Feeds

Debt collectors warned off pursuing punters on Facebook

OFT will bitchslap agencies who send heavies onto social networks

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.