Debt Collectors Stalking, Publicly Shaming People Through Facebook

Now that we have debtor's prison again, it's only natural that Americans who owe money be publicly shamed for the sin of being broke during a devastating recession.

A Tampa woman who fell behind on her car payments after having to take sick leave from work was surprised to hear about it from friends and family. Turns out the credit agency, which was also calling her up to 20 times a day, hunted down her Facebook profile and started contacting her Facebook friends to inform them that she was in debt.

Her attorney fears debt agencies will continue to exploit Facebook to publicly humiliate people behind on payments.

"Now Facebook does a debt collectors work for them. Now it's not only family members, it's all of your associates. It's a very powerful tool for debt collectors to use," says Howard.

He believes Facebook will soon become a regular method for contact if nothing is done.

"It's getting the desired result, and that is to start a domino effect of panic and embarrassment among family and friends, and people will do anything to stop that."

For the record, the FTC website clearly states that debt collectors are not allowed to get in touch with third parties, unless it's to get contact information. Since she was already getting phone calls, it seems unlikely that the agency just needed to get her contact info:

If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you don’t have an attorney, a collector may contact other people – but only to find out your address, your home phone number, and where you work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain this location information about you, a debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.

 Read the story here.

via Consumerist.

AlterNet / By Tana Ganeva

Posted at November 17, 2010, 7:47am

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