Dos and Doníts of Social Media in the Collections Process

Collections Training Resource
February 1, 2013 — 1,091 views  
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Technology has gone through significant changes in recent years, and the ways in which we communicate or do business have also undergone alterations. Collectors and businesses have been imposed with the challenge of contacting debtors or customers who have discarded their land lines, and use only mobile phones, instant messages, emails, text messages, and social networks as their main forms of communication. Debt collection professionals must hone their online collection skills and utilize social media techniques to establish contact with their debtors or customers. However, it is important to understand that there are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to collection of debt via social networks.

What can and what cannot be done by Collection Professionals

You can find or locate someone using social media, obtain their mailing or employment information, and verify it. However, social media collections are discouraged. Social networking sites should not be used to converse with debtors. Emails or personal messages should not be sent if there is a risk of it being leaked to a third party. Do not send instant messages regarding debts to your debtors. Using the debtors’ names must never be done, and requests to be “friends” must not be sent to debtors on their social media accounts.    

Finding Debtors through Social Media

Information about customers may be gathered using social networks. Debt collectors can investigate an individual’s history and try to obtain relevant information in order to collect payments. Several collection attorneys say that pictures posted by people on MySpace or Facebook help them obtain an individual’s physical description so that legal paperwork may be served with relative ease. Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are three of the most commonly used social networks. Most accounts are interlinked with other social networking pages that may help you gather additional information about an individual.  

Contacting Debtors via Social Networks

Debt collection is a private matter that must be discussed only with the debtor, his spouse and/or his attorney. As a collection professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that the information is kept confidential. The use of social media comes with a risk of leaking important information. So make sure you do not use it to issue notices or disclose any confidential information.  

Common Mistakes in Social Media Collections

There is no doubt that social media has improved the ease with which people can communicate. However, most of the messages, conversations, or information on social networks are not private and may be accessed by anyone. This makes social media a dangerous tool for debt collection professionals as they risk breaching federal laws associated with debt collection from customers. Privacy laws will also be violated and you run the risk of getting involved with legal issues.

Social media collections cannot be done directly, but online networks significantly increase your chances of establishing contact with customers or debtors who have been very hard to reach. Use of the right techniques will help you collect payments easily and quickly, and reduce the hassle you would otherwise have to go through.  

Collections Training Resource