Social networking websites such as Facebook and Myspace have offered us new opportunities to reach out and communicate with one another. For the less scrupulous collection agencies, it has offered many other possibilities.
Consider the the case of JP Morgan Chase and its collection agency, Universal Tracing Services, Inc. Chase’s customer, Mr. James Ricobene fell behind on his Mercedes payment. Chase hired UTS to collect on this debt. UTS, priding itself on using “the latest technology” to track down “the harest to find missing persons and debtors” decided to post the following demand letter on Mr. Ricobene’s daughter’s Myspace account:
We have been retained by, JPMorgan Chase Bank, to locate and repossess their missing collateral a 2007 Mercedes GL 450. Please contact our office immediately so we can discuss the peaceful recovery of the collateral. Failure to contact me will result in further action against your father James Ricobene. Legal options range from having a replevin order served on you or even worse reporting the collateral as stolen to local authorities in Illinois under the A.R.S. act 18-5-504. Failure to comply with this notice of surrender is a class 5 felony and carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years plus all applicable surcharges. You must contact the writer within 5 days to prevent this action from taking place. You can contact me directly at 800-667-7704 ext 222 or directly at 604-267-1581 ext. 222
Awaiting your immediate response.
Chris Flanagan
Senior investigator

This was posted on March 20, 2009. Not only did UTS violate a host of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act laws, it has embarrassed and mortified the daughter as well. This makes two new Plaintiffs who can and should sue UTS and JP Morgan Chase. UTS obviously views social networking as an opportunity to cyberstalk. Gina Ricobene has filed her lawsuit against Chase and UTS. Her father also filed his complaint as well. There are certain lines that no one should ever cross. Using a daughter to reach a father in order to collect a debt is shameful, vile and as a father, it infuriates me. Click here for more information about this story.
But wait…I got another for you. Auto Financing Network is developing a reputation for its “no hostages taken” policy towards debt collection. It financed a car for Ms. Jennifer Dicks. When she two payments on her car note, APN repossessed it. When she went to pick up the car from APN, they informed her that they had hidden a GPS device in her car to track its whereabouts. It gets better. APN decided to shame Ms. Dicks when she fell behind again in her payment, by purchasing an URL that matches her name with the site titled “Jennifer Dicks isn’t paying for her Cavalier.”
If this weren’t enough, APN then began a campaign of sending text messages to Ms. Dicks. Some excerpts, allegedly are as follows:
You need to call me. This has put me in a bad spot. I know you don’t give a shit but I do. I need the car back.
April 10:
Can you quit playing games and give me the car?
April 11:
I’m 2 miles away coming to your house…are you home? Neeee the car.
April 15:
You need to call me…This isn’t fair to me. Do you have no soul?
April 18:
All you do is lie. It isn’t registered to you so call again. I wish you died when you fell off the roof. If ur not married good. He can do soooo much better.
LOL. I’m sure he is really good. You will need him because az allows us to call the car in stolen. Please send him this, you are fucked!
As you can see, social networking has really provided people with new opportunities to connect and cyber stalkers with new opportunities to step into crap and get in trouble.
Moral of the story:
Debt Collectors – Web 2.0 does NOT provide you with any special exemptions from the FDCPA. IT STILL APPLIES which means you have to treat debtors as human beings. Next, remember that debtors are not failing to pay because they don’t like you, so stop making debt collection a personal thing. Its about business and dollars. There no room for hurt feelings and such in debt collection. Just like Tom Hanks said “There’s no crying in baseball” and there’s no whining in debt collection. Here is my last bit of advice for you in this post; charm, kindness and consideration always win the day. Be kind and charming always and you will always avoid getting into trouble. Seriously…think about it.
Debtors – Learn from Mr. Ricobene and his daughter. They stood up to these tyrannical if not manical debt collectors. They will ultimately prevail and win sizable awards. If you have been disrespected, email me, Gary Nitzkin or call me at (888) 293-2882.