Feeds

Debt collectors warned off pursuing punters on Facebook

OFT will bitchslap agencies who send heavies onto social networks

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Debt collectors should not be allowed to chase people who owe them money on social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, the UK's Office of Fair Trading has said.

The OFT issued new guidance today that warned banks, law firms, tracing agents and debt collectors that using social networks to track down debtors was "unfair or improper".

"Posting messages on social networking sites in a way that might potentially reveal that an identifiable person is being pursued for the repayment of a debt" was "acting in a way likely be publicly embarrassing to the debtor, either deliberately or negligently", the OFT guidance said.

An OFT spokesman told The Register that the practice was a lot like leaving voicemail or postcards that friends or family could easily hear or read, which could be distressing.

"When a company posts information on a social network, that information is even more in the public domain and could cause embarrassment or stress for the debtor," he said.

He added that chasing debts on social networks hadn't been a widespread issue so far.

"We've had a couple of complaints, which we've dealt with. We've spoken to the companies concerned and they stopped immediately," he said. "We'll continue to monitor how the guidance is complied with and we welcome any evidence of noncompliance."

Any debt agencies that continued the practice could have their consumer credit licence taken off them, the guidance said.

"In the present economic climate, with many people, including those who may be particularly vulnerable, in financial difficulties, it is crucial they are treated fairly by companies recovering their debts," David Fisher, the OFT's director of consumer credit, said in a canned statement. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.