9/01/2009

Tax Collectors Looking on Social Networks


If you owe money to the IRS, be very, very careful of what you say if you are on Facebook, MySpace or any of the thousands (millions?) of social networks. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal [article link], government tax collectors are using social networks such as Facebook to track down people who owe Uncle Sam money. According to the article, people who voluntarily put up information about themselves, help the government tax collectors locate delinquent accounts. As an example, a DJ made a Facebook update that he would be working a party (presumably paid in cash) and gave the address. The IRS was there waiting on him the day of the party to collect the money he would owe the government.

The only good news about this is that a federal agent can't send you a "friend request" to obtain more information about you. But, again, anything you voluntarily put up about yourself, can and will be used against you. I would imagine this is not something people thought about when they joined Facebook or MySpace. I think non-government collection agencies are already using social networks to locate delinquent account holders. They may or many not have the restraints in place for federal agents when collecting information.

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