Debt collectors using Facebook to harass borrowers
Atlanta readers may not be surprised to see that aggressive debt collectors have found a new way to pursue overdue borrowers, now intruding into every communication platform they can find and employing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
In some instances, debt collectors are using Facebook to continue to harass borrowers that are already in contact with them, not just those who they have been unable to reach. This is a new low for debt collectors, who are known for their aggressive tactics to coerce distressed borrowers into paying, or at the very least to cause them serious distress over their inability to pay.
Regulators at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are questioning this tactic as well, looking into exactly how debt collectors are using Facebook and other social media sites to harass borrowers. Almost one out of every ten people in the United States have accounts that are currently in collection and the amount averages about $1,500. As a result, the CFPB is considering a variety of actions aimed specifically at debt collection practices.
The new regulations would be aimed primarily at heavier government oversight of debt collection practices, which many agree have gotten out of hand. Government oversight has already started for several debt buying companies. A spokesperson for one national debt collection company told reporters that they instruct employees to avoid social media, but that they do not have hard and fast rules about the proper conduct.
What do you think – is Facebook an acceptable way for debt collectors to contact borrowers? Or should these tactics be considered too aggressive and be banned?
Source: Bloomberg, “Debt collectors are going after people on social media” Carter Dougherty, Jan. 24, 2013
Information how to stop collection calls can be found on our Atlanta bankruptcy page.