One of the key benefits of collection agency services is that you only pay when they successfully collect on a past-due account. This means if the agency can't collect money on your behalf, you don't owe anything.
However, this isn't always the case. If you have several small debts of just a few hundred dollars each, the collection agency might require a fixed fee to handle those accounts to make it worth their while.
Collection agencies earn their money by taking a percentage of the money the debtor owes upon successful collection. This percentage can range from 10% to 50% with the most common percentage being between 20% and 40%.
A collection agency services’ fee is typically based on how old the debt is. Older debts can be more difficult to collect and the agent will require a higher fee to go after those accounts. Also, make sure you factor in how difficult it will be to collect certain debts. As a general rule of thumb, the riskier the debt,the higher the fee.
You may also be responsible for several other charges related to their collection efforts including fee-based background checks, travel, filing fees, and long-distance phone calls.
Before a collection agent works on a single claim, they will write up a contract that details the terms of your working arrangement including their responsibilities, the fees, any additional expenses, and customer service policies.
Be sure to read the contract over carefully for any fine print or contract language that seems confusing. If you notice discrepancies in the contract, make sure the agency fixes the problems immediately before requiring you to sign anything.