Facebook can be a valuable source of information, from reconnecting with high school acquaintances and finding out what your neighbor is up to without leaning over the fence, to fact gathering and reading news blogs. But a Florida judge has ruled that Mark One debt collection company cannot use Facebook as a resource for collecting debts.
Melanie Beacham, age 34, sued Mark One for violating Florida’s consumer protection law, claiming that they harassed her on Facebook in order to collect an unpaid $362 car loan. Judge Douglas Baird ruled in her favor earlier this week, ordering the company to stop contacting Ms. Beacham through social media sites. Billy Howard, Beacham’s attorney, said “It’s the beginning of an epidemic” when speaking of debt collectors using social media to collect debt, and told the Associated Press that “it’s an invasion of privacy on steroids.” Howard also said that he has had nearly a dozen potential clients contact him, claiming debt collectors have used social media sites to track them down.
Smartcredit.com said in a recent article that there were over 12,000 lawsuits filed in 2010 against debt collectors, many over abusive practices. They say that “consumers willingness to “friend” with people they don’t know unknowingly lets debt collectors in their front door.”