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Thursday
Nov182010

Woman Sues Debt Collector over Facebook Messages

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Should Facebook be off-limits for debt collectors on the prowl? One Florida woman thinks so.

In what her lawyer said is a first-of-its-kind case, Melanie Beacham of St. Petersburg, Fla. filed a complaint against MarkOne Financial, LLC, alleging that employees of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company harassed her and her family members over Facebook to intimidate her into paying an alleged debt.

In papers filed with a Florida court, citing violations of state consumer protection law, Beacham is asking for damages as well as court intervention to stop MarkOne Financial from using the social network to contact her and her relatives.

"This is a huge invasion of privacy," said Billy Howard, Beacham's attorney. "It's important to send a message to other debt collectors that this type of invasion of privacy will not be tolerated by America....Other people need to know that their rights are being violated by debt collectors when they are contacting friends and family members on Facebook."

In a statement, MarkOne Financial said it does not comment on pending litigation, but added, "We firmly believe that the facts will demonstrate that the harassment allegations made against us are false, and that we have and do operate within the spirit and scope of the law."

The company said that its policy is to use Facebook to locate customers when the customer has a fully public profile and when he or she has not responded to requests through "conventional means."

According to Beacham's complaint, MarkOne "intentionally harassed and abused the Plaintiff in outrageous format" in July, when a representative contacted two of Beacham's acquaintances on Facebook, asking them to call him.

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