Using Social Media for Collections

Collections Training Resource
May 21, 2012 — 1,357 views  
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One of the aspects of social media is the fact that a majority of users don't think before they type. This has proven to be a benefit to those in the collections industry, as it has made it easier to uncover when an individual's financial status has changed. Social media collections can take this information and use it to form a strategy to collect on debt.

On the surface, the combination of collections and social media seems like a great way to get a debtor to pay up. In practice, utilizing social media for contacting a debtor needs to be treated with as much caution as traditional skip tracing methods. Contacting the wrong person with the same name and similar geographical data is a very real possibility. The error is compounded when the collector goes ahead and starts making demands to pay from the wrong person. Attempting to collect from the wrong person is a violation of the Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act, falling under the false statement description. The party can turn around and sue the collector for violating the FDCPA. Always do due diligence on any information collected to avoid contacting the wrong person.

Social media collections have to follow the guidelines laid out by the FDCPA the same way as if it were a traditional collection attempt. Collectors who have managed to get themselves added to the debtor's friends list have to be careful about what they say and where they say it. Posting a message to the debtor's feed where everyone can see it is a violation of the FDCPA. According to the act, all communications about the debt have to be kept private.

Currently, there are no laws regarding self-identification when making friend requests on social media sites. Collectors can "back-door" their way to a debtors' page via family and friends as long as the issue of the debt is not discussed. If the debtor has locked down their account, avoid making an attempt to contact them or find information that has been made private. The debtor can turn around and sue under the FDCPA for harassment.

Check local laws when doing social media collections. Some states have made impersonation illegal, which means that creating a fake account against the law. Always stay on the right side of the law for collections to avoid lawsuits that cite the FDCPA.

Collections Training Resource