Friday, June 19, 2015

You Can Run But You Can't Hide From Your Debt

Technology advances occur frequently. Technology has allowed creditors, debt collectors and some state taxing authorities the ability to search for consumers on the internet use social media networks such as Facebook, Myspace,Twitter, Linkedin and other sites to find consumers. This seems extreme but it is legal.  

According to the Fair Debt Practices Collection Act (FFDPCA), debt collectors can contact your family and friends to find your location or get other personal information such as your address, email address or phone number.  If you posted your contact information including your current employer on your social media profile you may soon be getting emails, phone calls or visits from your debt collectors.

What if a debt collector contacted someone who is listed as a friend on your social media profile? How embarrassing would that be? With the frequent consumer data breaches and lack of strong security protections on Facebook and other social media profiles it is not too hard to find anyone these days. This could also affect your employment status since many employers verify if potential candidates or employees have social media profiles.

If you use social media networks and are in debt, you presence on them can increase your chances of your creditors and debt collectors finding you. The IRS has not confirmed whether they use social media networks to find taxpayers who owe back taxes but I assume they probably do. However, tax agents cannot friend a consumer who owes back taxes on a social media site but that probably doesn’t stop them from doing it.  Here are some ways you can be found on the internet:

1.      Internet search engines
2.      Motor vehicle records
3.      Chat rooms and forums
4.      Social media networks
5.      Employment records
6.      Tax records
7.      Bank records
8.      Public inquiries at local businesses such as groceries stories, barbershops, church meetings, social and civic meetings, etc.
9.      Posts you made about an article or video or post you made on a website

Contact your creditors and debt collectors before they contact you to setup a payment plan or request a financial hardship. Follow-up with a letter confirming the agreement and stick to the agreement.  It is better to be safe than sorry.


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