We found out earlier this year that debt collectors are using social networks to find and harass debtors, but now at least one collections training center is offering a class on using social media in collections, to “maintain a good customer base, keep good paying customers on track, and find and collect from past due customers.” (Debt collectors like to call consumers their “customers” or “clients,” even though they have no business relationship.)
Debt collectors can use social networks to find and communicate with consumers, as long as they make the appropriate disclosures and comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them.
For starters, make sure your Facebook profile is private, and check on the rest of your Facebook privacy settings. This guide to Facebook’s privacy settings from Lawyerist is still useful, even though Facebook has made some changes since it was written.
If you use Twitter, write a blog, or participate in any other public social media, remember that anyone with access to Google (i.e., pretty much anyone) can find what you write. If you don’t want your mother, a debt collector, or a judge reading what you write, keep it to yourself. This is especially true if you write about your financial situation. Money matters, in general, are probably best kept private.
(Thanks to Ed Nelson from the Minnesota Home Ownership Center for the tip!)