Debt collectors have been told by the Office of Fair Trading that they are not to contact people who owe them money via Twitter and Facebook.
The OFT guidelines, published last week, are meant to protect people's privacy and ensure fair treatment of debtors. The guidelines are also meant to protect debtors from being contacted at unreasonable times or at inappropriate locations, such as hospitals: "With many people, including those who may be particularly vulnerable, in financial difficulties, it is crucial they are treated fairly by companies recovering their debts."
David Fisher, the OFT's director of consumer credit, said: "This updated guidance makes clear the standards the OFT expects of all businesses involved in debt recovery."
The guidance was welcomed by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS). "Many debtors are understandably anxious to keep their debt problems private – and the possibility of being contacted by a debt collector on Facebook or Twitter causes serious worry for many," said Delroy Corinaldi, the director of external affairs.
The guidelines apply not just to bailiffs, but also to banks, law firms and tracing agents.