Using Social Media to Skip Trace
Debt collectors using skip tracing to locate delinquent borrowers now have a ubiquitous ally – social media. Together with robust software and strong compliance training, staying on top of credit-and-collections is easier than ever.
Skip tracing (aka debtor recovery) is the method of finding debtors that skipped town. Increasingly investigators use social networking sites such as Facebook, and Twitter to trace difficult to locate people. With a fast Google hunt and some ingenuity, it is possible to discover the subject's relatives, interests and likely whereabouts.
Social media has become such a deep-seated routine that even debtors on the run can’t resist the urge to participate in their preferred social network that skip tracing service or private investigator can use help find their location.
Find hard-to-find delinquent accounts with best-of-breed software and social networking
Social networking has become a particularly helpful instrument for investigators who need to warm up a cold case. Some people leave town and remove all physical evidence of their whereabouts, but still faithfully update their Facebook page and give away details that lead straight to them.
Another way skip tracing services and investigators use social media to find individuals subject to collection is by monitoring online groups or fan sites they might frequent. In the past investigators often worked hard to find this type of information out on their own prior to the proliferation of social media and smart phones.
Frequently checking sites can give the investigator the timely information he or she needs to catch up with the subject. Investigators should be equipped with this vital piece of technology. The best services will integrate social media and other information technology into their tools for finding debtors.
With new technologies and social media changing the method collectors reach out to debtors, consumer groups, collection agencies and government officials are inquiring whether new compliance guidelines need to help collectors do their jobs while protecting consumers from overenthusiastic practices.
Since social media sites have grown in popularity, reports have surfaced of debt collectors not only scouring social media sites to locate elusive debtors, but in some instances, creating fake user names and friending people in order to get information about a debtor.
Use of social media raised enough eyebrows that the Consumers Union and other groups raised concerns about debt collectors using social networking, in part, because the law really is unclear and there is such a risk of invading people's privacy. The FTC reportedly monitors the issues as well.
However, some industry executives argue that current debt guidelines relate to social media already. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) governs the industry, making provisions designed to prevent collectors from harassing debtors.
Compliance and legal risk arise from the potential for violations of, or nonconformance with, laws, rules, regulations, prescribed practices, internal policies and procedures, or ethical standards. For now, banks using skip trace methods involving social media need to at least assure that compliance negligence does not reflect back to them. A financial institution’s risk management program should control the risks related to social media skip trace methods.
In addition to providing the right technology, IBS offers clients with ongoing and dependable training for your staffs. Our Online Self-Guided User Training Modules provides interactive training at no additional cost to support IBS clients.