Imagine if you were late paying your credit card bill by some months. A warning letter had been sent, but you were in trouble and ignoring the warnings. Then messages from the debt collection agency start appearing on your public Facebook wall, so all your friends can read about your financial problems. Embarrassing?
It’s unfortunately a tactic employed by some in the collections arena – until recently, when the Office for Fair Trading banned the practice of using social media sites to embarrass people into paying up.
The latest guidance from the OFT goes far beyond just banning the use of social media contacts – they have also told collections companies not to contact people at inappropriate times and places. This is after complaints from some debtors about being chased for payment late at night or ridiculously early in the morning and even some hospital patients who found collectors chasing them for payment – in their hospital bed!
It’s good to see the OFT taking such a tough stand on the industry and also tackling the changing environment head on. Rather than waiting for years to see if Twitter abuse would become a ‘real’ problem, they have headed off the issue just as it began becoming something that would not only cause great distress to the debtors, but would tarnish the image of the entire collections industry.
Collecting debt is a sensitive business. People owe money for a variety of reasons, but public embarrassment on social media platforms or harassing individuals in their hospital bed could never be the way forward. At Teleperformance we really pride ourselves on being at the forefront of ethical standards in this industry. We will work alongside bodies such as the OFT and the CSA to make sure the entire industry operates in a sensitive and professional manner.