A Florida debt collector contacted a St. Petersburg woman's Facebook friends in an effort to get her to repay a $362 car loan. The woman, Melanie Beacham, promptly hit the collector, MarkOne Financial, with a civil suit in Pinellas County circuit court.
Though the suit was first filed in August, Beacham's attorney amended it recently, and the story broke nationally yesterday. According to the filing, a MarkOne employee going by the name Jeff Happenstance contacted both Beacham and two of her friends. As you can see in the message above, Happenstance asked the friends to have Beacham contact him without making reference to her debt.
While you may never thought of it this way, Facebook is a perfect tool for tracking down debtors and the people they know. LinkedIn and Twitter are, too.
"Now Facebook does a debt collectors work for them," Beacham's attorney, Billy Howard, who specializes in debt collection harassment, told a Tampa TV station. "Now it's not only family members, it's all of your associates. It's a very powerful tool for debt collectors to use."
Debt collectors have long contacted family members and friends of debtors in attempts to locate them -- and that behavior is protected by law. "Other than to obtain this location information about you, a debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney," a Federal Trade Commission FAQ explains.