The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (commonly called ANZ) has been accused of spying on debtors on Facebook. Allegedly, one of the bank’s debt collectors set up a fake Facebook profile under the name “Max Bourke”. Max Bourke’s profile picture showed a man running on the beach and listed his hobbies as football and watching movies.
The profile was then apparently used to find debtors and collect their home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. “Max Bourke” had 80 friends before his profile was removed from the site.
ANZ claims to be internally investigating the matter. A spokesman claimed it appeared that the profile was created as the result of staff creativity, rather than some plot to trick large numbers of debtors into giving their information to debt collectors. However, others claim the fake profile violated Australia’s Federal Privacy Act because it was misleading.
Don’t think this is an isolated incident. I had a client who was contacted by a debt collector via Facebook while we were still litigating the client’s case.
Many people today seem to forget that information they post online is, for the most part, readily available to anyone who’s looking. On my personal injury blog, I recently warned of the dangers of posting too much personal information online after reading of a case where a man’s personal injury lawsuit, in which he claimed he couldn’t do normal activities like painting, was damaged when he posted on Facebook that he had been painting.