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.