Using Facebook, MySpace and Google to collect on judgments

How about this? The I.R.S. and state tax people are using Facebook and MySpace to collect on back taxes. There are a number of recent articles on the topic, including one from the Wall Street Journal entitled Is “Friending” in Your Future? Better Pay Your Taxes First.  (For more articles, just search Google for: IRS Facebook.)

The Journal article writes about how Minnesota authorities collected “several thousand dollars” by using one evader’s MySpace announcement and how the IRS got $2,000 taxes after the debtor announced he was going to be a deejay at a forthcoming party.

In addition to using Facebook and MySpace, tax people also use Google. ”One agent collected $30,000 of unpaid tax from a resident after a Google search found him listed as a high-ranking local marketing rep for a national firm. If a Google online search isn’t productive, agents use the social sites or chat rooms in a last-chance hunt for their quarries.”

One note, however, about a difference between using Facebook and MySpace. The Journal notes:

“There are limits to what state agents can do on the Web. In Nebraska, agents are only allowed to use information that is publicly available online. So, MySpace — owned by News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal — tends to work best because its users often post more public information than do those of sites like Facebook, [a Nebraska agent] said. The default settings for adults on MySpace create a public profile, while the default settings on Facebook create a profile only viewable by an approved list of friends.”

There are more examples, but you get the idea, and, by now, you’ve probably realized that you could do this for your clients.

P.S. I just come across a very detailed article on ”How to Subpoena MySpace and Facebook Information.” It has lots of information. (I found the article  — including some 50 other article titles – in a weekly posting from Technolawyer. It’s a free service and also has lots of valuable information for attorneys.) Continue reading

A creative way to use Google street views: Using it to find a cheaper hotel room

The ABA Techshow was recently held at the Chicago Hilton located at 720 South Michigan Avenue. Even though the ABA got a discount on the normal room rate, it still cost attendees $199 per night.

While I was at the conference, I started speaking with someone who was attending who could not have afforded that rate. He told me how he found a hotel that was much cheaper and that was only a block away. How did he do it?

Here’s how: He went on Google’s street views and just “walked” from the Hilton to the next block on Michigan where he “saw” another hotel, the Blackstone, which was at 636 South Michigan. He called the hotel, and, in addition to being close, it was cheaper than the Hilton.

But, you might ask, how did he know that it was a hotel and what its name was? Simple. He could see a sign “from the street” showing that it was the Blackstone Hotel.