HOUSTON -

It's been said that birds of a feather flock together, and so it goes with social media, but could those you associate with affect your credit?

"Certainly you can tell a lot about people by the friends they keep and that is very true about credit," said Andre Fleites.

With over 1,700 Facebook friends, many of whom he doesn't know personally, Fleites finds that prospect alarming.

"I do feel that's a bit intrusive and think that's not a great way to judge someone's character and their ability to repay a loan," said Fleites.

Social media is already serving as a great collection tool. Creditors use it to track down people who owe them money.

"It also shows your hobbies and it shows a lot about what you're spending your money on and what your activities are," said Fleites.

From there, lenders may be able to figure out even more about you.

"Some lenders try to match up your friends with people who have defaulted from them in the past. I don't believe that's a logical model to base your lending opinion on," said Fleites.

The Federal Trade Commission said it has received complaints about debt collectors going too far, using social media to either impersonate friends or contact family members, causing consumers to panic.

"You don't put anything out there you don't want the world to see because once you put it out, there you can't take it back," Fleites said.

Debt collectors can and do use the Internet as a research tool. What you post on your Facebook or Instagram account is fair game to them.

So, if you're posting pictures from that great vacation you just took, it might be hard to claim you don't have money to pay the debt you owe.

In other words, it's best to think about what you post online, and use the tools available on your social media platforms to protect your privacy.