Online harassment alleged over debt
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida woman claims a debt collector went far beyond the usual phone calls in an attempt to recoup $362 for an unpaid car loan by sending her messages on Facebook — and by telling family on the social-networking site to have her call the agency.
Melanie Beacham, who is suing the collection agency Mark One LLC in a Florida court, said she never expected to hear from a debt collector on Facebook, which she uses to talk to loved ones and to post an occasional photo.
“I was shocked when I found out these collectors used Facebook to contact my family because they knew exactly where I was,’’ Beacham, 34, told The Associated Press in an e-mail yesterday. “I’m angry they caused me so much embarrassment with my family.’’
Beacham’s attorney, Billy Howard, said the debt collectors violated Beacham’s privacy and Florida’s consumer protection law, which prohibits collectors from harassing people.
Beacham filed the lawsuit in August, though updated court papers were filed yesterday.
“It’s an invasion of privacy on steroids,’’ Howard said.
The lawsuit also claims Mark One contacted Beacham six to 10 times a day by phone, sent her a text message, and contacted her neighbor. The agency denies any wrongdoing.