How to Record Debt Collector Web or Social Network Page

Coping with Bill Collection

Suppose you want to record your online interaction with an adversary . . . such as a collection agency.  Your goal is to capture reliable legal evidence of what you encountered when trying to access or provide information to the adversary’s web site or online app.

In effect, the video you create will record your eyewitness testimony of what you see online at a particular point in time.

You might want to do this, for example, to show that you tried to access a debt collector’s web site, but it was not available, did not work right or gave you misinformation.

Ten Steps

For making your record, here are 10 steps:

1.  Write out a step-by-step script of what you going to do and say as you make the recording.

2.  Launch your webcam so you can see yourself live on your monitor.

3.  Launch your browser or app so you can see that on your monitor at the same time you see the webcam image.

4.  Start a screencast recording program, such as screencast-o-matic (free, open-source service), to record what appears on your monitor.

5.  As the recording starts, identify yourself and explain the reason for your recording.  Explain the technical methods you are using to make the recording.  Don’t be afraid to read directly from your script.  Your purpose is to record legal evidence, not to make a television news cast.

6.  Use your browser or app and carefully explain each step you take.

7.  Describe what you see and what it means.

8.  Conclude the recording by signing and dating it with your voice.  Say words like, “I Ben Wright hereby sign and affirm this screencast as an accurate reflection of my work.”

9.  Review the video to ensure it is accurate.

10.  Soon after you create the video, store it in an online service such as Microsoft’s Skydrive, which records the date a file like the video was uploaded and last modified.


Here is a hypothetical example.

This demonstration is not the only way to make records of online events.  And it does not cover all of the legal and technical issues that might apply to your particular situation.

If you need legal advice for your particular situation, you need to consult a lawyer rather than to rely on this educational blog and video.

This blog post and video intend to spark public discussion about ways to record online activities.  What do you think?

–Benjamin Wright

Attorney Wright teaches the law of data security and investigations at the SANS Institute.

Related articles:

*  Bill Collectors on Facebook
*  How to Make a Gotcha! Video
* How to video record online chat with legal adversary
* Recording Social Media Legal Evidence


1 comment:

  1. How to reverse boycott debt collectors.

    When a debt collector/debt collection/debt buyer company can repeatedly call with the intent of getting money their customers can repeatedly answer or call back with the intent of not giving them any. They need people to pay with as little talk as possible. They don't want to talk with people who know they are never going to pay. Be all talk and no pay. Answer when convenient. Call back. Give no information. Verify nothing. Ask as many questions as you can. Answer none.

    Don't ignore/block/report them. It doesn't work. These folks want you to ignore them for as long as you can stand to or until you give them something valuable like money or information. Ignoring them is being their good customer. Sending a cease and desist is giving information. It lets them know you are still alive and remain their good customer. Preparing to initiate unlikely individual legal battles is being their good customer.

    Be their bad customer. Make them talk to you fruitlessly for as long as they can stand to or until they stop selecting you as their customer. These companies cannot spend seconds much less minutes on the phone with every person who will never send them a dime. But they don't know who that is. You do. That knowledge is power. Every second you can keep their staff on the phone will render their business less profitable giving them a reason to never call you again.

    Calling will not reset your SOL. Making a partial payment will.

    One person who does this likes to ask general questions they should but usually won't answer, "May I have the name and address of your agent for service of process?" Calmly and slowly ask them to spell every word in the address. Read it back for verification. Control the pace. If they are rushing then politely ask them to slowly repeat. "Are you a corporation and if so in which state are you incorporated?" Repeat your questions when you don't get direct answers. When they won't answer a question ask, "Would you like to comply with the business and professions codes of your state?" That is usually the point when they hang up on me but if they say they want to comply then begin your questions again.

    Repeat while you have the spare time. These folks have many victims and few operators. If everyone calls back but pays nothing the mass auto-dialer business model becomes unprofitable. Don't aid and comfort the enemy by ignoring them. Call! Have a nice long slow friendly chat! Make them hang up first.

    Press 2 for Spanish.

    There are certainly enough victims to take down this company so ignoring/blocking seems downright Orwellian to me. Really? We're just going to passively submit and go with a block list or however we manage ignoring an endless stream of unwanted phone calls day after day? No! Unite or remain conquered. Answer/return every call - become well practiced at keeping these folks on the phone - or count yourself not amongst the free.