Social media can unravel your FDCPA claim or deep six possible defenses in your debt collection lawsuit faster than you say Facebook. It is easy to get a false sense of privacy when we are chatting away with family and friends in social media.
But social media can be used for more sinister purposes as well…
Debt Collectors are Reading What You Post on Social Media
I know that this seems really paranoid…and if I hadn’t heard it right out of the debt collector’s mouth (or at least their attorney’s mouth) I probably wouldn’t believe it either.
Recently I came across a podcast that is put out by attorneys for the debt collection industry. One of their most recent episodes was focused on providing information to debt collectors on how debt collectors can deal with FDCPA cases without going to court.
The first thing these lawyers said they did when they received a lawsuit alleging that a debt collector had violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was to check out the plaintiff (i.e. you) on the various social media platforms.
What are they looking for? To see if you are talking about the lawsuit, talking about the debt, to see if you have any embarrassing photos or background.
They check out to see if you have filed for bankruptcy before or if you have any type of criminal history. The idea being that if you do have something embarrassing in your background they will exploit it and try and discredit you in your FDCPA lawsuit.
What You Put on Social Media Could Ruin a Case – Even After You Win
Sometimes when a debt collector agrees to pay a settlement there will be an agreement between the parties that the settlement will be confidential. If you go out and blast your hard fought victory on Twitter you could (and likely will) put the entire settlement in jeopardy.
Recently there was a case in Florida where an employee brought suit against his prior employer. A settlement was reached for $80,000 – however part of the settlement was that the parties agreed to keep all of the terms confidential.
Well, after the settlement was finalized the employee told his teenage daughter about the settlement and she immediately proclaimed the victory on Facebook. Here is what she said specifically:
“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver…Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
Actually, not nice. The attorneys for the employer (Gulliver) found out about it, judge found out, and judge voided the settlement, and the family had to pay the $80,000 back.
That is an expensive lesson but one that you should learn from. If you are involved in a debt collection lawsuit or you believe you have an FDCPA claim against a debt collector it is best to keep this information between you and your consumer lawyer.