by Jeff Sovern
Here. An excerpt: "One strategy collection agencies use, according to Michelle Dunn, a 24-year veteran of the debt-collection industry and the author of "The Guide to Getting Paid": setting up a fake profile and using it to try to friend someone (a few states have laws against online impersonation)."
I wonder how many provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act this violates. Section 1692e prohibits "any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt." Wouldn't a fake profile by definition be false, deceptive, or misleading? Subsection (11) of that section requires collectors to disclose that communications they send are from debt collectors. Somehow, I doubt the friend requests include that information. And if the friend request is the first communication from the collector, other disclosure requirements come into play.
Section 1692f bars "unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt." That language is vague enough that it might not capture this behavior, but then again it might.
If the collector posts something on the consumer's Facebook page, and the page is accessible to third parties, that would violate section 1692c's prohibition on communicating with third parties in connection with the collection of a debt, as the article observes.
The authors of the FDCPA surely did not anticipate Facebook, but they seem to have regulated debt collectors' use of it just the same.
UPDATE: Ted Mermin pointed out to me a comment in the California Law Review, Debt Collection in the Information Age: New Technologies and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, authored by Ted's former student, Colin Hector, that addresses the FDCPA's application to the use of Facebook to collect debts.