Friday, April 1, 2016

Consumer Complaints and the Need for Improvement

The Association of Credit and Collection Agencies (ACA International) is one of the few agencies out there that advocates for and on behalf of collection agencies. Unfortunately, though debt collectors are just doing their jobs and trying to collect money that is owed to their clients, they are the ones treated like criminals in terms of the law, while the debtors, people who have defaulted on their bills, get all the rights. Debt collectors have long recognized the unfairness of this view but, in order to stay in business, have followed the laws established by federal protection acts.

And, while they still have to follow these rules, someone is, finally, speaking up on their behalf. That someone is not a person but an organization, namely the aforementioned ACA International. This organization is now seeking to establish a more fair Consumer Complaint Database that will consider the wellbeing of collection agencies as well as consumers and that will thus be more fair and more accurate in all of its reportings.   

Thanks to a recent inspection from the Office of the Inspector General, the organization has found many areas in which it can improve. These include, but are not limited to, configuration management, security control, management control, access control, and audit logging. If these areas are improved upon, as suggested, it could mean better and more accurate complaint logging for everyone concerned, including and especially consumer collection agencies, whose rights are all too often overlooked.

In fact, an audit was performed by the Office of the Inspector General as recently as September 2015, and it found several areas that could be improved upon. And, as a result of that audit, ACA International is “stepping up its game,” so to speak.

With the new measures that ACA International is seeking to put in place, it should be easier to determine how many complaints are actually coming from an original source. For example, it is not uncommon for disgruntled consumers to sometimes log multiple complaints against a collection agency, often under different names, to give the agency a much worse reputation than it deserves. New security measures, however, could prevent this kind of thing from happening. Furthermore, new security measures could also limit who has access to filed complaints; after all, it’s not fair for consumers and others to see complaints when they are still being investigated and have not yet been resolved.

All of the new measures could spell potential help for collections agencies, which are often unfairly targeted by guilty consumers looking to place their shame for not being able to pay their bills elsewhere. While it’s not likely that federal laws will ever be fully established in the favor of collection agencies-after all, the goal of such laws is to protect the consumer, at the very least, these measures could help to protect them from unfair and inaccurate complaints, and that, at least, is progress. Nobody ever said the debt collection business was easy, but with measures like these in effect, at least the playing field can get a little more fair.

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