Turn to Tara: How to avoid being targeted by debt collectors on social media
The ways debt collectors can hound consumers is growing, but there are ways you guard yourself.
If you've ever fallen behind on a bill, you know how frustrating it can be when aggressive debt collectors are in hot pursuit.
In addition to relentless phone calls, emails and snail mail, now debt collectors can also track you down on social media.
MORE: Turn to Tara
It is legal for collectors to find you on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and demand you pay past due bills, but Lisa Gill, from Consumer Reports, says you shouldn't jump to respond.
"The first thing you want to do is you want to validate the debt, and ask them 'I would like to see this bill in writing.' Be sure let's say the debt is valid and that it's yours. Wires get crossed and it may not be your debt. It could be someone else with your name," says Gill.
RELATED: Are you being contacted by a debt collector? Know your rights. 6 things consumers should know.
But if it is your debt, Gill says pay close attention to the dates, because some states have a statute of limitations for collection and usually it's only three to five years.
New York caps it at three years, but New Jersey and Connecticut is above average at six years.
Some other ways she says you can avoid being hassled, include:
- Consider changing your privacy settings so only people in your trusted network can make contact;
- Never give out personal information like your Social Security number;
- If you don't recognize a charge, try annualcreditreport.com. It's a free, federally funded site where all three credit bureaus report and it will show you all the debt you owe, along with the identity of your debt collector.
Got a problem? You should Turn to Tara. HERE'S HOW.