Debt collectors warned over use of social media

Debt collectors have been told not to use social media to pursue people.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a reminder to businesses last week that using social media to recover consumer credit debts counts as unfair practice.

The warning also applies to banks, law firms and tracing agents as well as traditional debt collectors.

The OFT says that organisations who contact people via social media channels to chase them for money may expose their financial problems on public forums – something that would exacerbate any sense of stress, worry or embarrassment already being felt by the person in debt.

David Fisher, director of consumer credit at the OFT, said: “In the present economic climate, many people, including those who may be particularly vulnerable, are in financial difficulties.

“It is therefore crucial they are treated fairly by companies recovering their debts.”

Social media outlets that some debt collectors are using unfairly include Facebook and Twitter.

Delroy Corinaldi, director of external affairs at the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, told one financial website: “This is a welcome move. Many debtors are understandably anxious to keep their debt problems private from friends and work colleagues – and the possibility of being contacted by a debt collector on Facebook or Twitter causes serious worry for many.”