Should You Accept that Facebook Friend Request? Lenders Tracking-Down Borrowers on Facebook

Are you on Facebook? Like most of America, you probably enjoy the benefits of social networking. However, a developing trend across the ocean could make you think twice about whom you accept as your Facebook “friend.”

A story in the Boston Herald told how a couple in Australia defaulted on their mortgage, and their lender could not reach them by mail or telephone. The lender’s attorney found their Facebook profiles and “friended” them through the site. The couple accepted the friend request and the attorney served them their foreclosure papers via Facebook.

This was not the first time lenders used Facebook to track-down borrowers on Facebook in Australia. An Australian judge allowed a lender in 2008 to serve foreclosure papers by sending notice to the borrowers’ Facebook account. The judge said the borrowers received the notice because they changed the privacy settings on their Facebook account.

England has followed suit as well. A judge allowed a lender to serve foreclosure papers to a woman through her Facebook account earlier this year. The lender’s attorney proved that attempts to serve notice through phone calls and faxes failed.

Could this service by Facebook be coming to the United States? One privacy information expert said there have been no cases yet in the U.S., but it may be only a matter of time before U.S. courts give lenders more leeway. The expert said it is less a privacy issue and more of a due process issue.

Therefore, the message may be that if you are a homeowner in financial trouble and facing¬†bankruptcy¬†and the Chapter 7 process, think twice about whom you accept as your Facebook “friend.”

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