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?

0 comments

  • Yikes, that’s crazy! But I’m with J$ on this one–as much as it sucks to deal with this type of situation, if they’re going to this length to find/contact you then it’s high-time you face the situation head-on. Running and hiding will only make it worse!

    Thankfully I have no personal experience with this type of thing, but I’m sure this would be enough to knock me back to reality if I was in this kind of mess.

  • Do you think this is going through great lengths or just a new way to do business?

  • Christian L. /

    Dominique,
    First I’ll avoid having debt collectors come after me. Yikes. But if this did happen to me, I’d block the user. Via snail mail, I’d let the collection agency know I was appalled by their tactics, legal they may be. It’s an ethical line that they’ve crossed and although I owe them money, I’d ask for some respect.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  • Great plan! If a debt collectors took this approach would make you more willing to work with them or less?

  • I think that they have gone a bit too far. Using social media to try to contact a person should be illegal. One thing are trying to contact you in person or by phone and another is trying to find you on the internet. The thing is that while trying to chase you online they are learning more about you which can led them to any online business you have and other assets which they can get their hands on fairly easy. While I do not have any debt problems I have two separate profiles on sites like Facebook and other social media outlets. This way I can use a profile to promote all I do online and another for my personal stuff and friends. If a company tries to join me in one of my profiles I quickly hit the deny button especially if I suspect that the person is from some financial company.

    To protect my social profiles I only accept people who I have been in contact for some time like bloggers whose blogs I visit and writers on sites that I write for. Next week I will provably hike some of the privacy settings like getting my phone number out of Facebook and things like that after learning about what they are capable of doing.

  • You’re a very smart man. I think this just goes to show that even debt collectors are embracing the times and will do what it takes to collect their money.

  • I suppose the takeaway from this would be to only friend people you really trust. I’m sure that potential employers engage in similar methods to learn more about their prospective employees.

  • I absolutely never accept friend requests from people I don’t know. But that doesn’t stop someone from contacting you. The company I work for has tried to contact people via Facebook who owe us money – although not going so far as to friend people.

    Its mostly companies catching up the times and I don’t see an issue with it as long as information isn’t shared. That would the equivalent of a Debt Collector calling and telling your house mate that your owe £2,000 for lifesized sex dolls and to give them a call back.

    People get way to up in arms about their social media profiles, as its their personal property of they have some kind of ownership of this space. Its not your space, its space your renting in exchange for personal information.

  • That’s so shady but I can see it happening. Nowadays it’s hard to keep our lives totally private especially with the amount of social media out there. Definitely makes one want to double check the privacy settings in FB, etc.

  • The crazy part is, even if you double check the privacy settings, that won’t be enough. You need to monitor friend requests religiously. To me that defeats the point of social media. My real friends have my phone number and can call me when they need to reach me. I use social media for networking.

  • Good point on social media profiles not being private property. However, why limit your friend requests to only people you know? Do you use social media for networking at all?

  • But if you only accept people you know or trust, how can you effectively leverage the networking benefits of social media?

  • Christian L. /

    I think I’d be less likely to work with that particular employee, but I’m probably feel a lot more pressured to pay off my debt!

    I’m fortunate to have $0 of debt right now, so I don’t foresee this being a problem for me. Yippie!

    -Christian L.

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