If we know one thing about the debt collection industry is that they are annoyingly persistent, so much so that the Federal Trade Commission has had to develop rules to govern their tactics. However, even with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in place many debt collectors continue to find new ways to bully debtors. Most recently, using social media to track down and contact delinquent borrowers.
A recent news story explains the experience of one man in recent weeks who was cyber stalked by a debt collector. A Philadelphia man was included in a picture taken at a restaurant in Pittsburgh alongside PBS personality Rick Sebak. Quickly after the picture circulated the friends list of those included and shared over 50 times to reach more than 5,000 people. Within days the Philadelphia man was the source of phone calls and questions to the restaurant, traced back to a New Hampshire collections company.
The debt collector contacting the third party (ie. the restaurant) in attempt to gain information about the whereabouts or contact information of the debtor in question is a clear violation of the FDCPA. Since 2009, the FTC has been spreading the word that text messages and social media are a prohibited form of communication to debtors. While the Philadelphia man may not have been aware of these rights he certainly didn’t need to be subjected to the cyber stalking over his unpaid student loan debt; which had previously arranged a payment plan through the help of a lawyer just a few years prior. The FTC is continuing to crack down on debt collection violations, but urges consumers to know their rights and monitor their credit reports to ensure there aren’t any inaccurate reports from collectors.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/technology/2014/06/20/Debt-collectors-turn-to-social-media-to-track-down-delinquents/stories/201406170010