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Facebook Foreclosure: Careful Who You Friend!

According to various sources, the online social network Facebook is not all about fun and games anymore. Property owners in default on their mortgage could be served through Facebook. According to Time magazine, the "Facebook foreclosure" is coming soon to a financially discouraged neighborhood near you. Short term installment loans will not be enough to stop it.

Australia where it starts

A mortgage lender attempting to do a foreclosure on a home was ordered to serve the owner on Facebook in 2008 by an Australian courtroom. Only a backup copy of the notice was required at the physical address in Canberra. A new precedent was set. Facebook foreclosures followed in New Zealand, Canada and England, particularly in cases where the defaulting parties could not otherwise be located.

Good for Facebook

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt remarked in 2008 the online social networking giant was "pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private medium for communication." The Facebook accounts for the Australian borrowers didn't have privacy protections started. This was why the courtroom decided it was just fine to do a Facebook foreclosure. Within minutes, borrowers would respond to the notice. This made the courtroom decide it was effective to do the Facebook foreclosure.

Might see it in the US

Physical foreclosure notices are a matter of public record in the United States, which all but eliminates most privacy concerns of a Facebook foreclosure. Time indicates that debt collectors already use Facebook wall comments to track delinquent borrowers down. Evidence from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks is used in 81 percent of United States divorce cases according to a recent poll.

Joseph DeMarco, co-chair of the American Bar Association's division on cybercrime, noted that online social networks can be an ideal way to get to individuals who "seem to exist only online."

Back to robo-signing

Many assume Facebook foreclosures will never appear in the United States after the "robo-signing" incidents where U.S. banks were foreclosing automatically without first raiding files to make sure mistakes were avoided. There have also been cases of impropriety documented along with mishandling of loan refinancing applications. This has caused the industry's reputation to get quite hurt. The prospect of foreclosure service being as simple as sending a Facebook message, minus additional checks and balances, does not instill critics of the home loan lending industry with confidence. Experts believe concern is good since home loan lending needs may result in being loosened by the foreclosure robo-signing incident.

London's Big Broth Watch consumer advocate group's Daniel Hamilton believes that mortgage lenders should be moving toward Facebook foreclosures even if it is not quite as good as physically serving a notice to the property.

Take a look at the video on being served on Facebook

Articles cited

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