A new industry is benefiting from social media: debt collectors. According to Vanessa Romo’s segment for NPR’s All Things Considered, the practice is growing as more people put contact information into public forums such as Facebook. The segment says:
‘“My collectors and skip tracers will put their name in to be a friend to the debtor,’ [Gary Nitzkin, a credit collection attorney] says. ‘And then they can get into their inner circle and talk to their other friends. Find out what they’re doing. Are they going boating today — on their new sailboat? Well, guess what? We just found an asset that we can take.’
And Nitzkin says that’s legal.”
Vanessa quotes Isaac Vicknair, who describes himself as a “rapscallion” with some credit problems. Within a day of putting his work contact information on Facebook, he got caught in his own Web — a debt collector called.
Today’s Tip: Look for stories that show new uses for old things.
The Facebook story isn’t new: Businesses, schools, news outlets and everyone else use Facebook to promote products and network. But to learn that debt collectors have found the service useful, too, adds a new dimension.
Many reporters I’ve spoken with for this blog all say keeping your eyes and ears open is the best way to find story ideas. This post on freelanceswitch.com offers 50 ways to find story ideas. Here’s what Vanessa says about how she got this story.
Also see McClatchy Washington bureau reporter Chris Adams’ tips on how to put “fresh meat on old stories,” which he delivered at the IRE conference last month.
Listen to the NPR story: