Can you imagine being contacted on Facebook or Twitter by a debt collector?
If the incessant phone calls from creditors aren’t enough, they’re now using social media networks to collect on their debts.
From The Grio
Ultimately, it will be up to federal and state authorities to determine when debt collectors go too far using social media.
Until then, here are five steps you can take to protect yourself from overzealous debt collectors – including those who contact you or your friends and family online.
1. Don’t ‘Bling, Bling’ If You Claim to Be Broke
So you just posted Internet photos of your recent trip to Aruba, or pictures of yourself looking sharp in a nice new suit, huh? Such information suggests to debt collectors that you’re living large, and it makes it far less likely that they’ll believe your claims of being broke.
Even worse, the information you share publicly online may be used as ammunition against you, if things really get nasty and you wind up in court over a debt. (If you do get a notice to appear in court, read these tips on how to handle debt collectors, including why you should always answer a court summons).
2. Stop Revealing TMI — About You and Family
We’ve all been guilty of sharing too much information from time to time. But when you do it online, and debt collectors are trying to find you, it’s like you’ve left them a trail of breadcrumbs leading right to your door.
While ducking your creditors isn’t a solution to your financial mess, if you’re not ready to pay what you owe or negotiate a payment plan, it’s sometimes best to lay low. You can’t do that, though, if you’re constantly broadcasting your whereabouts on Foursquare or telling the world (via your online posts) about the date, time and exact hotel location of your upcoming family reunion in Virginia Beach.
3. Know Your Rights
Bill collectors are not permitted to harass, threaten, intimidate or try to embarrass you into paying a debt. If they do any of these things, they are violating the FDCPA. Read up on your consumer rights and the 10 areas of protection you have under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. http://creditcarddebt2010.com/2010/02/day-9-educate-yourself-about-your-legal-rights-part-2/
4. Complain About Abusive Practices
If a debt collector harasses you, threatens you or otherwise breaks the FDCPA or your state laws, don’t hesitate to report them to authorities immediately. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and with the FTC.
5. Get Help With Debt Relief
Finally, if you find yourself constantly struggling with bills, make a plan to become debt free so you can be rid of aggressive debt collectors once and for all. Follow these tips to get out of debt, or seek guidance from the Better Business Bureau’s free online program
It’s beginning to get a lot harder at running from collections…be smart with your money folks!