Creditor harassment has been a growing problem as more consumers face financial struggles in today’s economy. Florida consumers have received collections calls at all hours of the day including at work and at home. Collection agencies have even contacted friends, neighbors and relatives of individuals owing debt in hopes to collect funds. But collections calls can easily turn into harassment, violating Florida’s consumer protection laws.
A collection agency in Jacksonville, Florida, has been sued after the agency attempted to contact a woman on Facebook in efforts to collect on a debt. Mark One Financial LLC used the social media website to locate a consumer who still owed $362.00 on a car loan. Mark One sent Facebook messages to the woman and her family asking that she call the collection agency about the debt she owed. The agency claimed that they did nothing wrong, and they only resorted to Facebook after they couldn’t reach the woman through phone calls and letters.
The lawsuit was filed on August 2010 claiming that Mark One had violated a provision of Florida’s consumer protection law. Under the consumer protection law, collectors are prohibited from harassing people. The woman said that the agency called her six to 10 times a day, sent text messages and even contacted one of her neighbors about the debt. When the company left messages on Facebook, she had had enough. The woman’s attorney said that social media has just become “another weapon” that debtcollectors are using in hopes to intimidate those owing money.
In Chicago, one man was friended on Facebook by a woman who was wearing a bikini in her profile picture. The man accepted the friend request and later received a message on his Facebook wall from the “woman” that read: “Pay your debts, you deadbeat.”
After reviewing the woman’s lawsuit against Mark One, a Florida judge has ruled in favor of the consumer. Mark One has been ordered not to use Facebook or any other social media site in efforts to contact the woman about her debt. The agency is also prohibited from using the social media site to contact the woman’s friends or family members.
The Washington Post: “Judge: debt agency can’t contact woman on Facebook,” Tamara Lush, 9 Mar. 2011