Debt collectors can’t harass you through Facebook, court rules

The idea of your unpaid student loan debts or late car payments being publicized on your Facebook wall is probably pretty unpleasant sounding.

With high unemployment and a record wealth divide right now in the US, it also is likely many people reading this post can relate to having a bit of difficulty paying the bills. A landmark new ruling in Florida may help ensure that if you owe money on some accounts, at least you won’t wake up to an embarrassing announcement about it on a social media profile.

Melanie Beacham, a Florida resident, sued collections agency MarkOne after an illness caused her to fall behind on her bills. Instead of working out a payment plan, agents from the company called Beacham over twenty times in a day and even found her on Facebook, contacting her family and friends to inform them of the woman’s past due bills.

Beacham won in court, and after the ruling, her lawyer Billy Howard commented on how harmful such actions are to individuals who are under financial pressure:

“This is a new age of harassment,” Howard said. “A couple of key strokes you can use one of the oldest debt collectors’ tricks there is … that is, to contact family members and friends. Most harassment is one-on-one, but when you bring in family members and friends that’s when you really turn up the psychological pressure on people.”

In March, Beacham filed a separate harassment suit against MarkOne for their collections practices.

[Orlando Sentinel via Consumerist]