Social Networking: The New Tool For Debt Collectors

I am sure you have heard that you should not post anything on your social media account that you do not want your current or next employer to see. So, you have probably avoided placing pictures of yourself at wild parties and pictures with a shot or glass of your favorite beverage in your hand and thought that you were OK. But, what about posting a picture of the new car you purchased or pictures from your latest vacation? These cannot possibly get you in trouble right? Guess again. If you have delinquent bills, have a judgment against you, or are filing for bankruptcy, you may be telling a debt collector or judge that you have the ability to pay your bills.

Yes, the newest tool of debt collectors is social media sites like Facebook. If you owe money, there is a possibility that a debt collector in charge of your delinquent account is trying to find you via a social media network. So, if you are posting pictures of your great life, like most people do, or of your latest vacation, or posting pictures with you standing in front of your new car, or posting pictures with you all “flossed out” you could be helping a debt collector build a case against you if you decide, for instance, you want to file for bankruptcy. Even if you are not posting recent pictures of your assets, your old pictures can help a bill collector itemize your assets. For most of us, this is OK, but what if you are already behind on your bills, and being sought by a collector, and they start leaving messages for you with your Facebook “friends” about your delinquency?

Some debt collectors are already making your debt delinquency public. According to a Washington Post report, that is what happened to a Florida woman. “Melanie Beacham of Tampa, Fla., fell behind in her car payments. The debt, collection company, MarkOne Financial, called and called. They also sent e-mail and text messages. Then, according to court documents, Mark One sent messages to her and her family on Facebook to have her call the agency about the debt. Believe it or not, they made her delinquency of $362 public.

So what can you do about this? Well you have to pay attention to what you post and who will see it.

  1. Do not pose in pictures perpetrating a lie. If the items in the photos or the items you are bragging about in your status are not yours, don’t pose or talk about them. This could come back to haunt you in the future.
  2. Be careful of what truth you do post. Before you post pictures, your location, or a status, consider the individuals that compose your friends and followers. The more friends or followers you have that you do not know, the more you should consider what you post.
  3. Adjust your settings with each post, if you have that capability. Know who you want to see your posts.
  4. Only allow people you know to your personal social networking accounts. Example: I have multiple accounts on some social media networks. I have a personal where I only allow friends to join. Then, I have professional accounts that are for anyone.
  5. If you are tagged on a picture or checked in to a location, think of the implications of someone you do not know finding this information.
  6. If all else fails, deactivate your account or close the account if possible.

Follow these rules and you should be able to avoid most despicable debt collectors.