The use of social media in debt collection harassment is a grey area. Because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protecting consumers was enacted in 1978, it only specifically covers landlines and snail mail. The advent of social media in debt collection agencies is a new issue that may be updated in future revisions to the act. Until then, even social media use must follow the rules set out in the FDCPA:
The use of social media and debt collection may violate any of these FDCPA requirements:
- Contacting you between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. without your permission
- Threatening violence or using profanities
- Claiming to be an attorney or a government official
- Communicating with you if you are represented by an attorney
- Contact third parties about your debt or otherwise embarrassing you
- Sending letters that look like attorney or governmental letters but that are not
- Sending information on a postcard
Social Media – Facebook,
Debt collectors may use social media accounts to gather contact information or to see if you are posting photos of new, expensive purchases. Be aware of your privacy settings and what you are posting. If you buy and post about these expensive items while in collections, you may land in court. These could be assets that could be seized or proof that you could pay but are not.
Recently in Tampa, agencies have begun to use social media to harass people. Some collection agencies are pretending to be real people and friending debtors. They can then send private and public messages to the debtors and all the person’s friends and family. One woman was contacted on Facebook by a debt collection agency who posted messages about her outstanding debt; a court ruled that this was a clear violation of the FDCPA. It was similar to sending a postcard and deceptive because the company pretended to be a real person.
What about texting? Since some people must pay for incoming texts, this is a problem. Texts can be deceptive – a violation of the FDCPA – as they may look like they are coming from a credit card company. One company sent out texts like this:
YOUR PAYMENT DECLINED WITH CARD ****-****-****-5463
. . . CALL 866.256.2117 IMMEDIATELY.
The collection agency must also disclose who they are in the text.
What to Do?
If you are getting Tampa debt collection harassment on social media, you may want to contact a debt collection harassment lawyer. With the Hoag Law Firm, your first consultation is free and we will help you understand the law and how hiring an attorney can help you to settle your debt. We will put a stop to harassment, negotiate on your behalf and is necessary, represent you in court. You may be entitled to monetary damages if the debt collector has violated the FDCPA or FCCPA.
About Brian Hoag
Hopefully, you will never be in a position in which you need the legal services of a Tampa personal injury lawyer that specializes in debt collection harassment, but in the event that you do, please give Hoag Law Firm a call at (727) 231-5420 or complete your online Free Case Evaluation. A free consultation can help you understand your rights. With honest advice and an experienced attorney at your side, you can recover the largest possible settlement and get back to living your life.