Bill collectors trolling social media sites

Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn, can serve as productive and efficient means of staying in touch personally, professionally, and politically; just ask young people in Egypt. However, careless use of such sites poses very real risks to one’s personal privacy, and potentially one’s employment. In fact, lawyers, bill collectors and credit investigators are using these sites to gather information on consumers and others; and using that information in ways the targets probably would not like.   

In a recent article, for example, Paul and Sarah Edwards explained that “[p]eople say a lot about their lives on social media, which is how these sites can be used to determine if an individual or company is credit-worthy or, when they are in arrears, to get a bead on whether they can pay their bills.” 

This is just one more vehicle creditors are using as they continue to become more aggressive in pursuing debts. Some of these sites allow you to list your employment or contact information; and have the potential to cause serious problems if you are in a situation where you could have your wages garnished. Social media sites are becoming treasure troves of personal data for lawyers (government as well as private-practice lawyers) to build or support prosecutions or lawsuits. 

Those pictures on your profile or status updates about a new purchase, a raise or your income tax return provide creditors evidence about your ability to pay your debts. Michelle Dunn, an expert on credit and debt collection, explains, “[f]or one or two hours a week, you can obtain information that in the past you might have needed to hire a skip tracer to find.” 

These new sites can be useful tools for networking and catching up with old friends. But they can also put you at risk if you reveal too much information about yourself and your lifestyle. Disclosing certain personal information, despite the fact that you consider it “private,” could pose a very real threat to your financial future. Be careful who you are adding as friends, what you reveal about your spending habits, and keep your employer off these sites. You never know who is out there gathering information on you.

- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

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Michelle Dunn

February 9th, 2011
7:38 am

Americans are being squeezed by tight credit, higher borrowing costs, investment losses and a jump in unpaid bills — many recently unemployed or otherwise underinsured — not paying their bills. When folks can’t or don’t pay their bills, this costs everyone of us money. Bottom line: business owners deserve to be paid for the products or services they provide. As long as they behave ethically and follow the law there should not be any problems.

It is very true that people should be careful what they post online, it always surprises me when folks post very personal information online for the world to see! I guess this isn’t a problem unless you are trying to get out of paying a bill or called in sick to work and don’t want your boss to know.

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Joe the Plutocrat

February 9th, 2011
8:08 am

Bob, a weal cautionary tale at best. Paragraph one, second sentence says all that needs to be said; “…careless use of such sites poses very real risks to one’s personal privacy, and potentially one’s employment.” Really? I know this forum exists in the free market/private sector, who are you to play “nanny” to “careless” adults who would place a facebook friend tally ahead of gainful employment? As an employer, does one want a sophmoric, narcissistic rube as an employee? Smart zebras know, you hang around too long at the water hole and bad things happen. Participation in the “social media” is a chocie. Whatever became of personal responsibility? Your proferring a “lesson” that really needs to be learned “self-study” (and witnessing the bad choices of others is often the most effective form of self-study). And finally, where does The Barr Code fall into this mix? I know you don’t pull the numbers of some of your colleagues at ajc.com, but employees who divert time, attention and resources to blogging, while she should be “producing” are “careless” in my book – oh, I am self-employed.

nels

February 9th, 2011
8:23 am

I do not avoid, run or in anyway act guilty, I fight back. I had a problem where the person went to court and got a judgement against me, however it was out of state and lacked jurisdiction. However, this guy was obssesed, got a lawyer and brought a lawsuit in Supreme Court in my state. I hired a lawyer and it went to court and the judge subsequently dismissed it. Then the man[plaintiff] found an obscure law and had the case reopened again, I fought it all the way again. It took 7 years and thousands of dollars over a relatively small sum. Finally settled out of court. I would do it all again, I don’t like getting pushed around.

It reminded me of the play Lay Miserables, where a man was pursued for his entire life by a cop over stealing a loaf of bread.

Eric

February 9th, 2011
8:28 am

Great article once again, Mr. Barr. I have been resistant to joining these sites–what is written today could resurface years from now in unexpected contexts. Fortunately, one does not have to participate and instead, visit with neighbors and “friends” for real.

DebbieDoRight

February 9th, 2011
8:31 am

This goes back to when your Mom would caution you that, “Your best friend has a best friend” or “be careful what you say and to whom you say it to”.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
8:40 am

The only limits collection agencies have is what is imposed on them by laws. Since they make large contributions to congress, which is made up mostly of lawyers, these people can, and will, hound you into the grave to get their money.

LA

February 9th, 2011
9:21 am

DebbieDoRight

Your comment reminds me of a story I read about concerning some female worker who ridiculed her boss on Facebook but forgot all about her boss being her friend on Facebook. Needless to say, she was fired. People say anything and everything on Twitter, Facebook etc without thinking.

Common Man

February 9th, 2011
9:21 am

Dang…I opened this article thinking I was going to read something truly remarkable as I often do in the Barr Code and lo and behold, I find a guest appearance by Clark Howard.

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
9:31 am

Carlosgvv…once again you are able to weave in your daily comment about financial influence in congress, which goes directly to the beating heart of the matter. Thanks to you, all our eyes are now opened oh wise sage.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
9:47 am

Supreme Being

Actually, I’m just making it up. Like you I know our congress is made up of the most upright and honest people in the nation and I also know that ethics is the number one concern of Big Business. Golly, I just don’t know what comes over me sometimes.

jconservative

February 9th, 2011
9:54 am

What is Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn?

Just asking.

LA

February 9th, 2011
10:33 am

“Since they make large contributions to congress, which is made up mostly of lawyers, these people can, and will, hound you into the grave to get their money.”

Are you referring to credit card companies or what?

LA

February 9th, 2011
10:36 am

“But they can also put you at risk if you reveal too much information about yourself and your lifestyle. ”

Well, then that goes to show that people should not air their dirty laundry on social media websites. For instance, I am on Facebook but I’ve never put any personal information about myself on Facebook. I know people who easily fall for scams like “win a free ipad” and such. I know people who’ve had to disconnect their page because of spam etc.

Bottom line: Don’t put anything personal on Facebook.

LA

February 9th, 2011
10:37 am

“Like you I know our congress is made up of the most upright and honest people in the nation and I also know that ethics is the number one concern of Big Business. ”

You’re an Obama voter.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 9th, 2011
10:43 am

Good essay Mr. Barr. Sound advice for our incredibly-vain society. The refreshing difference between you and a leftist is that CT or Jay would have proposed a new law.

Jeff

February 9th, 2011
10:49 am

Facebook forces you to be yourself. You are vetted through the friends you have. You cannot be someone you are not because your friends who are your “friends” will call you out. Like Bob said just be careful of the people you add. But if the person is stupid enough to add someone and get caught…they might just deserve it.

killerj

February 9th, 2011
11:11 am

Here,s one they can read,I,ll never play your game the rest of my life, you can stick your credit up your a$$.Go Tea Party.

NEVER

February 9th, 2011
11:18 am

I NEVER accept anybody as a friend on facebook if I don’t know them! That’s a rule of thumb! :) So you bill collectors…I USED to be a bill collector myself and know ALL the tricks of the trade! :)

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Joe the Plutocrat

February 9th, 2011
11:28 am

Ragnar @ 10:43 – by “proposed a new law” do you mean something like the Patriot Act?

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
11:30 am

“Since they make large contributions to congress, which is made up mostly of lawyers, these people can, and will, hound you into the grave to get their money.”

Are you referring to credit card companies or what?

LA – I am sure a monumental response from the Mensa great is forthcoming.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
11:39 am

LA, Supreme Being

Credit card companies (Banks) are probably the worst. Yes, I’m an Obama voter since I have some intelligence. It’s tough being a Mensa great, but someone has to do it.

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Roberta Higginbotham

February 9th, 2011
11:45 am

Social networking sites like Facebook are also well known for the transmission of computer viruses and spyware to unsuspecting members.

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
11:58 am

Yeah those awful credit card companies & banks trying to collect bad debts from people who are too stupid to know how to use credit are the worst. How dare they try and get their money back from teh people they issued credit to. Great point Carlosgvv…your Mensa brains must be pumped with steroids today!

Tim

February 9th, 2011
12:04 pm

You do know the way to never be bothered by bill collectors, pay your bills.

StJ

February 9th, 2011
12:11 pm

“Be careful who you are adding as friends, what you reveal about your spending habits, and keep your employer off these sites. You never know who is out there gathering information on you.”

Better yet, don’t create a profile on the site. They can’t harvest what isn’t there. (Facebook is the most colossal waste of time ever invented to begin with.)

If you’re a deadbeat/loser/whatever and stupid enough to post every detail of your life story on Facebook, you deserve what you get.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
12:15 pm

Supreme Being

I guess you love banks that keep raising interest rates and try to sucker college students into large debts. The goal of banks is to get you in debt and keep you in debt for life. That’s probably fine with you, but not with me.

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Brian

February 9th, 2011
12:22 pm

Agreed. Keep your personal information PERSONAL. Your social “friends” don’t need to know everything about you. On Facebook, make sure you change your privacy settings away from the default so only friends can see them. Sometimes I change my “Lives in” location to faraway places just for fun and to confuse hackers and others. .. Be good! B~)

UGA REALLY STANDS FOR JOE DIRT

February 9th, 2011
12:35 pm

This is only a small sum in regards to a legit way for collectors to find out about you! They run your damn credit report bob!!!! What is a better source than that? Jobs are listed on most, you can see who the trades are they have used and who they bank with! If a lawyer sees a credit line with wells fargo, it’s not a shot in the dark to assume that this consumer may likely have an bank account there to slap a lien against!!! Collectors have your SS # and they have numerous tools to get your relatives phone numbers and the people who live next door to you which is all legal as long as they don’t disclose your debt!

I agree that people just need to accept responsibility more these days! People write articles against creditors that get screwed out of their damn money! There is no damn honor in running from your responsibility period! People should go above and beyond to pay their debt back instead of looking for ways to NOT pay their damn bills! If not for these lending banks, where would you be to begin with? Have some pride and honor to what you signed your name to and don’t be losers who would rather AVOID to get by in life! That’s the way i feel about it.

Many people get behind but still COULD PAY SOMETHING on their debts to the creditors. They just ignore thinking nothing will happen. I’m glad collectors and lawyers pursue them and garnish their damn checks! Bob, if they had a job then should we feel sorry they got garnished for not paying their bills? If your working, YOU SHOULD BE PAYING BACK SOME AMOUNT TO YOUR CREDITORS THAT YOU SCREWED!!!!!! People in this country would rather hold their damn hand out for the government to do for them over the consumers getting out there and getting it done themselves these days! Lazy a** people in my opinion. LAZY! The nanny state is alive and well eh bob?

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:40 pm

Ragnar Danneskjöld

I see Jay kicked yet another blogger off of his fledgling blog. He has what, 15 cult followers now?

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:46 pm

“Credit card companies (Banks) are probably the worst. Yes, I’m an Obama voter since I have some intelligence. It’s tough being a Mensa great, but someone has to do it.”

1: Pay your damn bills.
2: People who vote Democrat tend to be ex-felons, high school drop outs, welfare recipients, etc.
3: No, you’re not smarter than anyone on this blog.
4: You’re not a Mensa member.

Just because you say you’re smarter than everyone else doesn’t mean it’s true. Heck, I have a masters degree but I don’t go around saying I’m smarter than you or anyone else. When you are smart, you know you’re smart and therefore less insecure. To me, you’re just trying to pretend to be smart because you’re insecure.

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:47 pm

“If you’re a deadbeat/loser/whatever and stupid enough to post every detail of your life story on Facebook, you deserve what you get.”

BINGO!!!!!!!

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:49 pm

“I guess you love banks that keep raising interest rates and try to sucker college students into large debts.”

Banks never sucker anyone into anything. Yes, they ask you if you want to try this or that but guess what? IT’S CALLED RUNNING A BUSINESS! All businesses try to get you to buy their product. If college run up debt buying booze, clothing etc, they shouldn’t have one. I get really tired of hearing people complain about “evil” credit card companies when these same people run up massive debt trying to live like other people.

I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for people who live outside their means.

ECON 101. I’m guessing you never took that class.

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:50 pm

“LA – I am sure a monumental response from the Mensa great is forthcoming.”

There is absolutely nothing that tells me that carlos is a Mensa member. His/her comments tell me that he/she doesn’t know common sense from spare change.

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:51 pm

“Social networking sites like Facebook are also well known for the transmission of computer viruses and spyware to unsuspecting members.’

Drop the PC and get a Mac.

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:53 pm

“by “proposed a new law” do you mean something like the Patriot Act?”

What does that have to do with anything? Also, Obama continues the exact same war policies as Bush. Same wars, Gitmo isn’t closed etc…

LA

February 9th, 2011
12:54 pm

“Credit card companies (Banks) are probably the worst. ”

Gee, they want the money you borrowed. Imagine that!

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Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 9th, 2011
1:10 pm

Dear Joe @ 11:28, agreed. Does anyone remember that Tom Daschle was the original sponsor of S. 1510 in the 107th Congress?

LA

February 9th, 2011
1:14 pm

“Does anyone remember that Tom Daschle was the original sponsor of S. 1510 in the 107th Congress?”

Yep, and the SD voters sent him packing.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 9th, 2011
1:15 pm

Dear LA @ 12:40, ha @ 12:51, this is written on an Ubuntu laptop. @ various other times, funny comments, I wish I had your sense of humor.

LA

February 9th, 2011
1:17 pm

Ragnar Danneskjöld

Yeah, my sense of humor pissed Jay Bookman off. I just love to irritate the left wingers who live on his blog day in and day out. It’s so funny to see them cry to Jay.

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
1:23 pm

I guess you love banks that keep raising interest rates and try to sucker college students into large debts. The goal of banks is to get you in debt and keep you in debt for life.

Carlosgvv…The goal of banks is to facilitate commerce and earn a profit by doing business with credit worthy customers that can pay their bills; need to buy houses, need checking accounts, business loans and credit. By making the idiotic statements such that you do, I am begining to think you are pulling our leg about your Mensa qualifications. Or perhaps Mensa is finally letting in imbeciles.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 9th, 2011
1:23 pm

Dear LA @ 1:17, so sorry. Leftists usually don’t have much of a sense of humor. Suppose that is why they tolerate me, since I only contradict them. Well-aimed mockery is more than they can stand.

LA

February 9th, 2011
1:32 pm

“I am begining to think you are pulling our leg about your Mensa qualifications. ”

BEGINNING??????? Carlos is your classic compulsive liar.

LA

February 9th, 2011
1:34 pm

“Suppose that is why they tolerate me, since I only contradict them.’

Yeah, but when you take up a notch, like I did, and totally mock them, Jay gets his thong in a wad and pulls out the “your banned” card. Heck, he didn’t even say why he banned me.

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
2:15 pm

Heck, he didn’t even say why he banned me.

Since he probably lacks rational thought or the ability to justify a position, I bet he took the usual leftist fall back position of name calling.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
2:17 pm

LA, Supreme Being

1. What makes you think I don’t pay my bills?
2. If you really believe that about Democrats, you are even
dumber than I thought.
3. I never said I was smarter than anyone on this blog, just smarter
than you two losers.
4. Since there is no way you can or cannot know I am a Mensa member,
that statement just confirms your lack of intelligence.
5. I know and practice personal responsibility. Unfortunately, your
bank idols care nothing for business ethics.

LA

February 9th, 2011
2:35 pm

“1. What makes you think I don’t pay my bills?”

Never said you didn’t pay your bills. If you had a brain, you’d have know I was making a general statement with regards to banks coming after people who don’t pay their bills.

“2. If you really believe that about Democrats, you are even
dumber than I thought.”

Not that I care if you think I’m dumb, but this video proves my point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm1KOBMg1Y8

“3. I never said I was smarter than anyone on this blog, just smarter
than you two losers.”

How are you smarter?

“4. Since there is no way you can or cannot know I am a Mensa member,
that statement just confirms your lack of intelligence.”

No, it proves that you a troglodyte who is so insecure that you have to come on an AJC blog and pretend to be something you’re not.

“5. I know and practice personal responsibility. Unfortunately, your
bank idols care nothing for business ethics.’

I paid my house off years ago, Gump. I also don’t have any credit card debt.

Thanks for playing.

LA

February 9th, 2011
2:37 pm

“Since there is no way you can or cannot know I am a Mensa member,”

Your lack of any knowledge about how Banks and Credit Card companies work proves that you are not smart. Also, Mensa members don’t hang out on AJC blogs blabbing about how they are Mensa members.

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William Tucker

February 9th, 2011
2:44 pm

carlosgvv

What chapter of Mensa do you belong to?
What did you have to do to become a member?
How long did it take you to finish each test?

The reason I ask is because my wife is a member of Mensa and I know the ins and outs of how they work.

Mensa Smensa

February 9th, 2011
2:56 pm

carlosgvv

Why do you have to lie so much?

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
3:21 pm

Alas…I have been outed as a loser by an alleged Mensa member that cannot factually or clearly state a basis for his arguments or statements. I am devastated and bow to his superior intellect and will forever sharpen his crayons.

LA

February 9th, 2011
3:33 pm

“I have been outed as a loser by an alleged Mensa member that cannot factually or clearly state a basis for his arguments or statements.”

Yeah, she keeps stating that she’s a part of Mensa but her comments lead me to believe that she fell off the short bus one too many times.

carlosgvv

February 9th, 2011
4:07 pm

LA, Supreme Being

Trading barbs with you two stooges is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Since it’s obvious how clueless you are, here’s a hint. You’re the fish.

LA

February 9th, 2011
4:28 pm

“Trading barbs with you two stooges is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Since it’s obvious how clueless you are, here’s a hint. You’re the fish.”

OH NO!!!!!! The all-wise and powerful carlos has called me clueless!!!!!!!! LOL

Hey carlos, how’s about answering those simple questions that William Tucker asked. I mean, if you really are a member of Mensa then you’ll have no problem answering those questions.

Make sense, liar?

LA

February 9th, 2011
4:29 pm

“Since it’s obvious how clueless you are”

Clueless is pretending to be something you’re not.

LA

February 9th, 2011
4:31 pm

Supreme Being

carlos has just proved to everyone what a liar she really is. Yeah she’ll continue to call us dumb, clueless etc which is all she has. Remember, when left wingers can’t argue or debate, they resort to name calling.

Ron Mexico

February 9th, 2011
4:40 pm

carlosgvv

Speaking of clueless, you never did refute answer anyone’s questions regarding Mensa. You should really think before shooting yourself in the foot.

Supreme Being

February 9th, 2011
5:22 pm

Ron M…I really doubt he is capable of shooting himself in the foot since this mental giant claims to be busy shooting fish in a barrel.

LA – When he isn’t busy shooting fish…he is busy spending his rent money buying lottery tickets. Of course if he wins, he loses… since the knucklehead doesn’t believe in banks he can’t accept a check…cash only. Maybe he will win a million Mensabucks.

LA

February 9th, 2011
5:31 pm

Supreme Being

Yeah, carlos is one predictable person. All he does is name call and pretend to be smart. He’ll come back in, call us dumb and then announce that he’s off to his bi-monthly Mensa meeting at the Waffle House in east Atlanta. What’s really sad is the fact that he actually thinks he’s in Mensa.

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Al Gore/Kilgore

February 10th, 2011
8:02 am

LA: i think i speak for everyone when I inform you that your contributions to the blogosphincter are greatly appreciated. I love the way you spread your cheeky humor throughout the entire day. Your sense of the lyrical justice is just papsmearical.

Your wisdom is biblical. “A brown eye for a brown eye + a bluetooth4aBluetooth”. Solomonic.

“Common sense…..spare change”. Brilliant! That troll is toast, man. He’ll never venture here again.

“Clueless is pretending.2B something Ur not”. Better than a fortune cookie in it’s pandemic relevance. It’s really good that you post every half hour. Where have you been hiding yourself?

“Mensa….” An organization that would screen mental prowess? Wait’ll they get a load a U.

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Joe

February 11th, 2011
12:21 am

I’m a debt collector, I don’t see what the big deal is. If someone is stupid enough to advertise their ability to repay their debts and is just being a spoiled brat about it and choosing not to, then more power to the hard working tax paying individuals in my industry. I rarely use facebook or myspace for skiptracing, but it’s proven useful in a few cases. I like Bob Barr, but I don’t understand where he thinks he’s going with this article. Is this article supposed to aide and abet those who owe money? Is Bob a debtor himself? I suppose there are a lot of “self-employed” small business owner types out there who consider themselves “libertarian” and who have gone under since 2008 and are plagued with bad debt. I suppose this article then speaks to a segment of Bob’s audience of which I am not part.

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