Dec 27, 2019 MicroBilt News
Debt collecting has always been a game of numbers. One thing that’s putting the numbers on the side of debt collectors, is social media. The Internet has become a mainstay in American households with many people actively participating in multiple social networks. Among the most popular social networks are:
You might be wondering how these networks help debt collectors. First of all, while the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act still applies, it largely predates the widespread use of the World Wide Web. That means there are no Internet-specific regulations to consider. However, the rules of the act still apply when using the Internet. This is especially true for rules related to misrepresentation. It is illegal for debt collectors to pretend to be long-lost relatives, old college buddies, or anyone else in an effort to gain information about a debtor or collect on the debt.
That said, the Internet doesn’t offer quite the same degree of privacy protection from debt collectors individuals have in their private lives because the law didn’t predict or anticipate the expanded needs social media and social networking would require. While members do have a right to privacy, per se, the information they share on social media should always be considered public, even if they aren’t sharing it with the public. Glitches happen and savvy debt collectors are perfectly happy to take advantage of these glitches.
They are also fully prepared to make friend requests. Since many people will allow people they don’t know in their social networks, this means these false “friends” who are actually debt collectors have access to any information shared publicly via social media including the names of friends, places of employment, city of residence, and activities in which you participate, which can be evidence against debtors if there is a trial for debtors claiming an inability to pay old debts while continuing to accrue new ones.
It is important to know, however, that while there are no laws in place, currently, that protect consumers on social networks, that doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. Especially if debt collectors begin engaging in questionable activities, like deceptive practices to entice people on social networks to call.
With that in mind, it is important for consumers to be proactive if their privacy matters to them. They can do this by doing the following:
- Keeping their social media posts private.
- Only accepting friend requests from people they know.
- Reaching out to collection agencies and arranging to pay off debt.
The last step is most important for consumers seeking to eliminate calls, visits, and perceived harassment by debt collectors. Debt collectors seeking to engage debtors more effectively might also consider debt collector and skip tracing software that offers less risk to them to aid in their recovery efforts rather than sifting through endless volumes of social media fodder.