Friday, April 15, 2016

Compliance Concerns and Solutions for Debt Collectors

Debt collectors have an extremely tough job. Not only do they have to deal with troublesome customers, customers who can sometimes get irate, but they also must deal with compliance issues on a regular basis. Complying with federal and state regulations is a must for debt collectors. And, in addition to being compliant, they also have to have success with their main goal, which is, of course, collecting on bad debts.  All of these responsibilities and demands can add up to very difficult work for today’s collectors.                              

Consumer Identification
One of the main demands on debt collectors is that they must first confirm the identity of the consumer to whom they are speaking. Debt collectors must confirm the first and last name of the consumer to whom they are speaking, as well as another verification point, such as the person’s social security number, date of birth, or address.

And, while that type of confirmation may seem simple enough, debt collectors often have questions about how to go about the confirmation process. Should they request the information from the consumer, or should the debt collectors provide the information and have the consumers confirm it?
Not only it is difficult to determine the best approach, but there is also the concern of fewer and fewer consumers being willing to provide or confirm identifying information. There is a real concern over identity theft and fraud in modern times, so it is not surprising that consumers would be more cautious about providing sensitive information over the phone. However, when consumers fail to provide or verify information, the collection call cannot continue, which is obviously a major problem for modern debt collectors.

For this reason, collections companies or departments are urged to create an Identification of Consumer policy. With such a policy in place, every employee would have clearly outlined steps to follow regarding the consumer identification process, ensuring that no rules are broken and that, should a confirmation not be received, the collector will not be punished or faulted, providing he or she followed the required steps as outlined in the policy.

Matching Up Company and Client Expectations
The solution discussed above, of having company-wide policies related to different compliance requirements, is a wise one that can be adapted in many areas of a company’s functioning. However, it is important to consider that some clients will have their own expectations and policies that they will expect debt collectors working for them to follow.

When this is the case, it is always best to follow the client’s expectations, regardless of any company policies that may exist. The easiest way to honor client requests is to have separate teams for each client and to ensure that all team members know the special policies required of them for this particular client.

When companies are unable or unwilling to have separate teams for each client, the policy should be to review any “special notes” or “client regulations” before making a collections call. Companies that have special requirements could be denoted in some way in the company’s computer system.

These are just two of many concerns that exist for today’s debt collectors, but as is evident, solutions can be worked out if companies are just willing to develop plans and strategies that work for both them and their clients.

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