Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Unscrupulous debt collectors use social networking sites to dun, damage reputations of debtors
The latest “abuse” of social networking sites seems to be coming from a few less-than-reputable debt collectors. Liliana Segura of Alternet has a story June 10 “Is your newest Facebook friend a sleazeball debt collector?” here Collectors have posted stories about debts or dunning demands on Myspace and Facebook pages. A blog by Angela Connor, “Online Community Strategist” had taken up this problem on May 6, 2009, with entry here.
I worked for a debt collection company in the summer of 2003, and the company was ethical. They gave us training in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDPCA) and we had to pass a quiz on it with a perfect score before we went onto the floor. The Federal Trade Commission has a convenient PDF copy online here. One of the most important provisions is that debt collectors may not reveal the debt to third parties, and placing information about a debt on a social networking site page certainly would violate that provision. This problem certainly ties in with my ongoing investigation of the problems associated with “online reputation defense.”
It seems bizarre -- and very wrong -- to use one's own "online presence" on the job to besmirch the reputation of others as part of the job.