What Would You Do If A Bill Collector Did This to You?
Imagine this for a second. You’re busy looking at your friends’ and family’s latest status updates, and you get friend request from an attractive person. If horror movies are correct, it’s the unattractive people that turn out to be psycho’s so, using wisdom gained from watching endless horror movies you accept the request and go about your business.
A few weeks pass and you noticed this person being more active on your timeline and within your existing pictures. They are commenting frequently and liking all of your stuff. You being the awesome person you are see this as a validation of your awesomeness. After all, who wouldn’t like all your pictures and statuses? The people who don’t obviously are haters and can’t stand your greatness.
Then This Happens…
The attractive person sends you a message in your inbox and follows up with a status update on your wall for the world to see:
Hey, this is a representative from ABC debt collection agency, we are trying to contact you. Call us when you can!
Yikes! Now that’s embarrassing, but it’s legal!
Agencies whose job it is to run down consumer debt, aka bill collectors, have been coming under scrutiny lately for doing exactly what I described above.
They have been using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all types of social media outlets to get in contact with people who have not responded to formal letters, phone calls, or emails.
You may be thinking, “Umm, isn’t this an invasion of my privacy?” Well, there is a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is “No.” The long answer is “Hell to the no.”
There are no formal laws in place that say you cannot be contacted via social media by a bill collector. However, there are laws that specify how far a bill collector can go in their efforts to collect. Like, they cannot call you at 10 p.m. or threaten you.
The takeaway here is that, social media outlets are PUBLIC INFORMATION. That PUBLIC INFORMATION can and will be used against you in a the court of law. Well, in this case when a bill collector is trying to run you down and get paid. I can’t wait for the day a bill collector runs up on someone in the supermarket or a restaurant based on the location based status update. Now that would be funny.
As the law currently stands, a bill collector can contact you via social media to request a phone call or email. The good thing is they cannot send your personal information via social media, so if you’re contacted at least they won’t let your whole timeline know that you owe 10K in medical bills for erectile dysfunction treatments.
With that said, if you own a few debts that are in collections, you should be cautious of who you invite as a friend and what you say on your timeline.
Here is what some of my friends said they would do:
Sheena from ShoeAcidal said:
I would delete, delete delete them, block them and send them a letter saying to only send me correspondence via mail
Michael from credit-land said:
if he/she publicly shared information about the debt or merely mentioned its existence, I would probably be offended even more than if it was a call past 8 pm. I would definitely consider it a harassment.
Doretheia from TheMoneyChat said:
I would immediately contact the creditor in writing not to contact me via telephone or social media, but that all communication should be in writing only. My social media sites are personal and they’ve crossed the line if they contact me there. There has to be boundaries, I make the rules and tell them how to contact me.
Todd from FinancialMentor said:
I would consider it a complete violation of privacy and totally inappropriate – the rough equivalent of blasphemy.
Jay Monee from BudgetsAreSexy said:
#1) That debt collector is SMART! and #2) The person they’re coming after should figure out a way to deal with it head on and come up with a plan over ignoring (if that’s the case here). Ignoring never does any good for anyone and only adds stress. People would be surprised at how flexible places are if you say “Yes, I know I owe this and I want to pay, but I can’t yet cuz of XXXX. Can we come up wit a plan that works?”
Let me know what you would do if a debt collector contacted you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram?