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Stay Off Woman's Facebook, Judge Orders

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 20, 2011 9:46 AM

Though Facebook provides a wealth of information for debt collectors, one Florida collections firm has found out that use of the social network isn't without regulation.

As part of a lawsuit by a woman who alleges that creditors contacted her and her family over Facebook, a local judge has ordered the collections firm to stay off of the plaintiff's Facebook.

Melanie Beacham fell beyond on her car loans after losing her job, so it was no surprise when she was contacted by MarkOne Financial. She was, however, surprised with how often the agency contacted her.

In her lawsuit against MarkOne, Beacham alleges that the company harassed her and invaded her privacy. Even after she contacted a representative, she was emailed, texted and called repeatedly--including 23 times in one day, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Eventually MarkOne located Melanie Beacham on her public Facebook profile, which the ABA Journal reports led to the company sending messages to her sister and cousin. This alerted the entire family to her financial problems.

Melanie Beacham isn't alone in being harassed by debt collectors, which is why there are laws that protect consumers and their privacy.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors are barred from contacting third parties unless they cannot locate the debtor. They are also not permitted to disclose why they need the information--a rule that MarkOne apparently did not adhere to.

Even so, social media is not covered in the Act (it was passed in 1978). However, you should expect to see more cases about the intersection of Facebook and debt collection in the future.

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