Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Florida Judge Orders Debt Collector Not To Use Social Media To Contact Debtor

Florida Judge W. Douglas Baird ordered Mark One Financial LLC not to utilize social media when trying to contact Melanie Beacham over an alleged debt of $362. Ms. Beacham sued the debt collector in 2010 for violating her privacy.

Debt collectors have been using social media to contact debtors for several years. However, only in the past year has this activity been deemed news worthy by the mainstream press.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) appears to be silent on if and how debt collectors may utilize social media to collect on unpaid debts. Under some state laws, debt collectors are not allowed to publicize one's debts. Generally, if you can't act in a certain manner in the real world that same behavior in the virtual world is not acceptable.

In Sohns v. Bramacint, (Civil No. 09-1225; October 1, 2010), a United States District Court of Minnesota case, a debt collector allegedly accessed a debtor's MySpace page to intimidate the debtor. The debtor alleged that the debt collector had violated the FDCPA and won summary judgment based on the totality of the methods the debt collector utilized.

These types of cases will only increase in the future as more debt collectors actively utilize social media in order to collect on unpaid debts. Therefore, I advise everyone to be very careful about what they post online. You never know who is following your Facebook and MySpace posts, your Tweets, your blog posts, and/or your LinkedIn Tripits.

To learn how to protect your online content from prying eyes you may contact me at www.shearlaw.com.

Copyright 2011 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Harassment can definitely affect the reputation of debt collection services. Debt collectors should instead provide an ethical and effective debt recovery in order to maintain good relationship with their clients.

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  2. Bradley, great post. I agree with you relative to an increase in social media-related complaints on the horizon. I think many collectors just don't stop to think how the manner in which they use Facebook or LinkedIn or other social media platforms conflict with the FDCPA and/or state laws.

    It should not be a surprise to anyone that debt collectors are relying on the latest technology to do their job better. So long as the information they obtain is public and the tactics on the up and up, the technology is irrelevant.

    I’ve started a blog on social media and debt collection to specifically address this issue at http://socialmediadebtcollector.blogspot.com.

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