Judge Bars Creditor from Debtor's Facebook Page
Facebook isn't only changing the practice of law, it's changing the world of debt collection. But, unfortunately for debt collectors, it seems that one judge isn't too keen on letting them in on the action.
In an unprecedented decision, a Florida judge has ordered a debt collection firm to stop contacting a woman, her friends, and her family on Facebook.
She's currently suing the firm for harassment.
MarkOne Financial has been trying to track down Melanie Beacham, who fell behind on her car payments after losing her job. They have called, texted and emailed her, and she did, at one point, respond.
Unable to resolve the debt, the company then began hounding her on Facebook, where she has a public profile, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Then, according to the ABA Journal, MarkOne sent messages to Beacham's sister and cousin, which led to family discussion about her finances.
It takes some time for new technology to become fully integrated with the law, and Facebook is no exception. But it seems like, even though social media is not discussed in the confines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it should fit fairly well into the current framework.
Debt collectors cannot contact third parties unless they can't locate the debtor. Nor may they discuss why the information is needed.
These days, Facebook messages are akin to a phone call, and the presiding judge seems to have agreed. It might be wise to keep this in mind the next time you're advising a client.
- Judge bars debt collector from Facebook (UPI)
- Facebook Places: Where You Want To Be? (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Judges Use Facebook, Too. But Should They? (FindLaw's Strategist)
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