Debt collectors sued for using Facebook to harass family and friends of delinquent borrowers

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Technology and its widespread use evolves daily, and as it does, the way sometimes intensely personal information is used (possibly against you) by companies and agencies often has no legal precedent.

One such case would be the collection of debts. As Americans cope with unprecedented financial strain, more and more borrowers find themselves losing their grip on fiscal matters. Many people are falling behind on major obligations like mortgages and car payments, and thanks to services Facebook, we are easier than ever to track down via our online activities. But should debt collectors be able to use these services to harass the family and friends of people who are delinquent on their bills?

Florida resident Melanie Beacham took a medical leave from her job after falling ill, preventing her from remaining current on her car loan. Although she kept lender MarkOne abreast of the situation, she received as many as 20 calls a day about her car loan. Then, Beacham says, the company turned to Facebook to notify her family and friends that she was in financial trouble.

Consumer attorney Billy Howard says the practice is becoming increasingly common, mostly because naming and shaming those who have fallen on hard times inspires desperation anew:

“It’s getting the desired result, and that is to start a domino effect of panic and embarrassment among family and friends, and people will do anything to stop that.”

Howard is representing Beacham in a lawsuit hoping to prevent MarkOne from employing the practice of using Facebook to locate and harangue the family members of people who owe them money, and MarkOne unsurprisingly did not comment in their defense on the matter.

Do you think the practice of social media stalking by debt collectors is acceptable? Have you ever had a third party mine your friends list in an attempt to force action on your part?

[WTSP via Consumerist]