Monday, January 28, 2013

Fair Warning to All Guys on Facebook

Collection Agent - Photo by Summer Fisher
For my Tip of the Week feature this week, I must issue a warning to everyone who uses Facebook, especially guys. According to published news reports, there is a growing trend among collection agencies to create fake profiles that include a photo of an attractive young woman in a bikini.

The collection agency will then send targeted consumers a friend request on Facebook. Since most guys will (let's face it) accept any Facebook request that a woman in a bikini makes, the collection agent in disguise is almost always accepted as a friend.

Once this happens, the collection agency then has access to additional personal information about their intended target. They are also able, as their target's "friend," to begin posting collection requests directly on his target's Facebook wall where everyone else can see them.

This practice, I should point out, violates multiple points of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is legally defined as harassment. While the targeted consumer does have some legal recourse, it never fully undoes the potential damage to one's reputation nor is the personal information the collection agent has gathered ever deleted from their respective files.

While nothing reduces the legal and ethical hazards inherent in this type of activity on the part of the collection agent, I have to admit that - as a small business owner who is currently sitting on almost $30,000 in noncollectable invoices as well as two court judgments that aren't worth the paper they are printed on - there is a little part of me that appreciates the ingenuity of this tactic.

More Agents - Photo by Robson Oliveria
I have experienced collection agencies from both sides. I have been their intended target because not getting paid by my clients makes it hard for me to pay my own bills. I have also been the guy who hired a collection agency. I would never condone doing anything illegal because two wrongs do not make a right.

I'm just saying that I understand the creditor's motivation. I will leave the rest up to the lawyers and the government agencies that regulate collection agencies.

Still, my point in all of this is warn everyone on Facebook that not everyone who sends you a "friend request" is really your friend.

This has been your Tip of the Week from the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

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