Dear Mrs Macaulay,
Is it legal for a debt collector to post my picture on social media based on a promissory note or contract that I signed agreeing that in the event I am not paying my loan they have the right to post my picture on social media or in the newspaper?
I note that you signed a contract, and a term of the contract specified that if you defaulted in your agreed terms for the repayment of your loan, the lender would have the right to publish this fact with your photograph on social media.
That said, the answer to your question is surely clear and apparent to you. You signed the contract in order to obtain the loan you required. You did it intentionally so that you would obtain the loan. One must assume that you read the contract before you signed it, and even if you did not read it, you would be bound by what you signed. One can also assume that you understood what you were to sign and signed it. You would have checked that the contract contained what had been discussed, the total sum you were borrowing, rate of interest to be charged on that sum, the date for you to commence your repayment of the loan, the period/date of each of your repayment sums, and the consequence if you defaulted in your repayment sums after a certain period of time. The actions the lender may take would be stated in the contract.
So, the answer is yes, it is legal because you, with full knowledge, intent and understanding, signed a contract agreeing that in the event that you stopped making the agreed repayment sums on your loan, they had the right to post your picture and this fact on social media. When you signed that contract you became legally bound by its terms and so was the company/business. It does not fall into the category of publishing your picture without your knowledge or understanding of the terms. The publishing of your photograph in such circumstances also does not fall under categories of indecency, hate speech, racial slurs and discriminatory utterances and such like. You also cannot say that they caused you to sign the contract by fraudulent means or that the contract is for immoral purposes. The legal position without any of these categories, is that you are bound by what you signed. You cannot even say that you did not read it and so did not know what was in it. You can read and understand the contents, so you are bound by it. This is the law.
So in signing that contract, you placed yourself in the position of giving the lender the additional step to force you to make your repayments on time and with regularity. You need not have signed agreeing to this. You could have left and gone to another money lending company which did not have this term in their contract. You however signed the contract, took the money, and failed to make your repayment sums as you agreed to do. By your failure, you caused that term in the contract to be activated. I am sorry to say but you do not have any ground or cause to complain about their posting and the embarrassment it must have caused you.
You should make every effort to clear up your indebtedness to them as soon as possible. Remember that in addition to their right to post on social media, which you gave them by signing the contract, they also have the right to take you to court and if and when they obtain a judgement against you, they can take the legal steps to have the bailiff take your personal possessions (like your car if you have one). You do not want this to happen. So do try to resume your payments and also to ensure that your default does not cause the interest to keep rising for too much longer than when you should finally clear up your payments.
All the best.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.
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