If you’re running behind on your bills and suddenly find a friend request on Facebook from an attractive woman in a bikini whom you’ve never met before, think twice before accepting the add. As Bloomberg reported Thursday, debt collectors are taking on fake personas on Facebook to reach users who owe money.
Attorneys have said they’ve seen an increase in debt collectors creating profiles on Facebook as a way to get through to debtors when calls and other methods fail. The legality of this tactic has been up in the air until now, as the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission discuss restrictions on how debt collectors can contact people through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
Debt collectors have masqueraded as real people that debtors may know, as well as scantily clad women, as one lawyer from Tampa, Fla. said:
You get a friend request from some chick in a bikini. You say yes, and then somebody says, ‘‘By the way, I’m a debt collector.”
Bloomberg notes that while some agencies tell their employees to not go after debtors on social media, others have no policies in place.
On Tuesday, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council asked for public comment about banks’ use of social media, especially in this regard. This could cover not only Facebook, but Twitter, Google Plus, Yelp, LinkedIn, Flickr, and even sites such as Second Life and Zynga.
Readers: Have you ever been contacted by a debt collector on Facebook?
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