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Collection Agents Will Collect with Care

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Public perception often sheds a poor light on collection agencies. Many businesses and consumers still think of them as shady characters that will use verbal threats – or even brute force – to collect money owed on past-due accounts. That simply isn't the case. In fact, there are many debt collection practices that agents are required to follow.

Complying with collection laws

First of all, collectors have to comply with the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) which sets boundaries that collection agents must follow. This includes using insults or harsh language, contacting the debtors' employers, friends, and family for personal information, and threatening with legal recourse. Violations of the act can result in lawsuits and – if severe enough – shutdown of the collector's operations.

Handling hostility professionally

In many cases, it's usually the collection agency on the wrong side of threats and insults! Most people don't like to be confronted when they owe money and may take an aggressive attitude towards the collector. Not to worry: professional collection agents are familiar with this and know how to handle these calls without succumbing to a verbal war.

Focusing on customer service

Collections are considered an element of customer service. After all, the collection agency is working on behalf of a company that doesn't want to be viewed in a negative light. Agencies take this philosophy to heart when working with debtors. Like all good customer service representatives, the collectors are still able to explain to the debtor the importance of paying the money owed to the business in a timely fashion while making the process as painless as possible.

Understanding business' priorities

Sometimes, businesses simply forget to pay an invoice – and collection agencies are fully aware of that. It may only take one phone call from the collector to the business to retrieve the money owed. For companies that want to pay but don't have the money, the collection agency is usually more than willing to offer a payment plan or a percentage off the amount owed.

Taking the matter to court

If all the debt collection practices are used up and the collection agency is still unable to collect after multiple attempts, they can turn to the courts to bring the case before a judge. Most times, businesses would prefer to settle the debt than spend time in the courtroom. However, the agency can't directly threaten the debtor with legal action.

Four things collection agencies should not do

  1. A strong sign of a reputable collection agency is if they follow strict procedures and don't violate the various rules of the FDCPA. If the collection agency you're considering doesn't break any of the regulations listed, it's typically a good sign that you've found a quality agency.
  2. The FDCPA forbids collectors from broadcasting debtors' names on public "deadbeat lists", purchasing information about the debtor from a third party, or charging interest on money owed. In addition, collection agencies must present themselves accurately – they can't claim to be from another organization or request more money than is actually due.
  3. As part of FDCPA restrictions, agents can only call during normal hours – not very early in the morning or late in the evening. They also can't call debtors at work, especially if their employers forbid it. Debtors can request not to be called or to only be contacted by email. Collection agents must comply with such requests.
  4. Collection agencies also can't contact anyone other than the debtor, credit bureaus, or the debtor's attorney for any information other than the debtor's whereabouts. This means the debtors' family members, employers, friends, and neighbors are off-limits. Agencies also aren't allowed to mention they're calling about a debt and are forbidden from speaking poorly about the debtor.