The Real Deal: Debt Collectors Now Using Facebook
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 01:56 PM EDT
ALBANY – How far is
too far when it comes to trying to get people to pay a debt? For years, rouge debt collectors have been
hounding, harassing and threatening people who they claim owe money; normally
that happens over the phone or through the mail but now the collectors are
stepping up their game and entering cyber space.
If you owe a company
money, bill collectors can be relentless when trying to track you down. “It's constant, typically by telephone,
through the mail as well, a lot of collection agencies now use an auto-dial
system so that if a person doesn't pick-up, they'll just continuously dial the
number,” says Laurie Foglia, a credit counselor at ClearPoint Credit Counseling
in Albany. Because so many people ignore
those calls and letters though, collectors are now searching for those who owe
on Facebook and other social networking sites and sending direct messages about
“It makes sense,
they're going to reach out in any avenue that they can to try and collect that
debt,” says Foglia but not everyone agrees.
Lynn Baker of Colonie says, “It’s not fair, I think that’s personal and
private information and they shouldn’t be able to go after someone that
way.” Her husband Jimmy, disagrees
though telling CBS6, “If you're putting the information out there, they can use
it, you owe them money, they'll go get it.”
The collector has to
be certain he or she has the right person and they can only do that if you
provide enough basic information about yourself on your social network for them
to be able to connect the dots. “Where
do you draw the line? You have to
remember back when the fair debt collection act was created, we didn't have
social media, we didn't have a lot of the things we have today... facebook,
email, twitter,” says Foglia.
That’s a question
that federal regulators are trying to answer now. The rules when it comes to social media are
blurry and both the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau are hoping to change that.
Until they do, you may want to answer that next debt collection call.