Court Ruled that Facebook is Off Limits when it comes to Debt Collection

debt_collectorDebt Collectors can be some of the most persistent, most merciless, most ruthless people on the planet. Then again, Debtors can also be the most obstinate people on the whole planet. It’s a match made in heaven—or rather, hell. There’s bound to be sparks between a debtor and a debt collector. Case in point: an incident in Florida where a woman’s friends and family were contacted by a debt collector due to unpaid bills.

A new definition for the word ‘Persistent’

A woman named Melanie Beacham from Florida happened to get sick, which in turn caused her to fall behind on her bills. Seemingly ignorant of the concept of sympathy, the collection agency called MarkOne called her at home, emailed her, and texted her 23 times a day to remind her of her unpaid bills. As if that wasn’t enough, the debt collectors also went through the trouble of looking for her on Facebook. They then proceeded to bombard her friends and family with messages about her overdue bills.

Now, any decent law-abiding debt collector should know that this is against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the said act, a collector may only contact a ‘third party’ – i.e. the debtor’s friends and family – if and only if they do not know the location of the debtor. Furthermore, the debt collector can only ask for the person’s location and not say why they’re looking for that person. Of course, the act only specifies the rules for calling and sending sms, but anybody with half a brain should be able to tell that this rule applies to social networking sites such as Facebook as well. Anybody thinking otherwise is just deluding himself or – more likely – trying to demean the law. It’s almost like saying, “I’m not stealing – I’m just borrowing!”

Be careful on Facebook

Of course, after all the harassment she suffered from MarkOne, Beacham pretty much had every motive to sue the pants off the collection agency. The court, apparently, agreed. Now, debt collectors are forbidden to contact the friends and family of a debtor on Facebook or any social networking site. Also, they’re forbidden to post on the wall of that person about the said debt. Simply put, they have no right to embarrass anybody just because he or she is unable to pay their debts. So, if you ever find yourself victimized in like manner, remember that you have an ally in the law. Never forget your rights and always keep yourself informed – it’s the best defense you can have against harassment.

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