If they cannot get a hold of the person who owes them the money, they sometimes try to contact family members to try and get the money they are owed. This is commonly known in the debt collection world. With the massive spread and popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, some debt collectors are turning to these databases of information to try and find the family members and friends of the people owing the debts.
A recent Forbes article came out talking about how this form of outreach to family members of the person owing the debts has started to pick up popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the U.K. there have been recent changes to the debt collection guidelines in order to encompass these new forms of communication. The article puts it best -
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has updated its guidelines for debt collectors for the first time since 2006, in part to include the advent of social networking and its use as a tool for tracking–or even harassing–people.
The OFT now says debt collectors must not post messages on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, “in a way that might potentially reveal that an identifiable person is being pursued for the repayment of a debt.”
Debt collectors aren’t allowed to discuss a person’s debt with anyone other than the borrower their spouse and lawyer, and the same applies in the U.S. under Federal Trade Commission rules.
In the U.S., The Federal Trade Commission has also taken up this issue. This past April, they held a workshop bringing together representatives from the government, collections industry and consumer groups. These groups discussed the impact of new technologies on the collections process, such as mobile telephones, email and social media.
Next, the FTC will form a group to specifically address concerns about social media and hopefully put together guidelines for debt collectors so they know what they legally can and cannot do on these social platforms.
This, my friends, is why we need to reform the debt collection laws. There are so many holes in the laws, that these types of collection practices happen and are not checked. This is why I am working to change the system and this is why I need your help.
Sign our petition today and spread the word. I want to take this petition to Washington and make sure debt collectors have clear guidelines as to what they can and cannot do. More than that,
I want to help protect American families who have fallen on hard times. Together, we can do this.
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