At the time the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was first enacted in 1977, Facebook and other social media services were a distant dream. Today, unscrupulous debt collectors are no longer limited to the mail and telephone as tools to harass, intimidate and misinform their targets. Anyone who has profiles on social media, or knows someone who does, can become a victim.
According to Fast Company, debt collection agencies are increasingly using social media to reach debtors and their families. People familiar with the FDCPA know that it bans contacting a debtor’s friends and family over a debt, but it appears that debt collectors have taken their old illegal practices to a new method of communication.
Does the fact that the FDCPA arguably does not prohibit abusive debt collection practices over the Internet mean that victims have no protection? Not necessarily. In the Fast Company article, the assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission said that another statute, the Federal Trade Commission Act, covers gaps in FDCPA’s limits on debt collectors’ practices.
In one example, two acquaintances of a woman received a mysterious private message on Facebook. The message said the sender was looking for the woman’s vehicle, claiming she had “never paid on it.” At the time, the woman was two weeks behind on her loan payment.
No matter how a debt collector is harassing you, it is not something you have to take lying down. An attorney experienced in defending people from illegal debt collection practices can help stop the harassment, and take the company to court if necessary.