A classic checklist for both beginner and experienced collectors.
While there may never be a “perfect” collection call, certain things should happen every time. In ACA International’s new Essentials course, we’ve reimagined the classic call checkpoints to help keep your conversations compliant and productive.
The first two checkpoints happen at the beginning of each call to maintain compliance with your Fair Debt Collection Practices Act obligations, but the rest can unfold per your agency’s guidelines. ACA International’s Compliance Education Specialist Angela Czerlanis covers the essential call checklist in this month’s issue of Collector magazine.
1. Verify the Consumer or Right-Party Contact
Consumers and right-party contacts are people with whom you may discuss a debt without danger of compromising privacy.
Your company and clients will have you verify a consumer’s identity using a combination of identifiers like full name, partial Social Security number and address.
This is challenging! You are asking people to give sensitive information before they know who you are.
Many consumers are afraid of identity theft. If the party on the phone will not verify identity, follow your company’s policies about having them visit your website or place an inbound call to confirm you are legitimate.
This checkpoint is a hard stop. If you can’t obtain verification, you can’t continue the call. Skip to Checkpoint 8.
2. Identify Yourself
Thank the party for providing identification and then identify yourself and provide the mini-Miranda disclosure. The FDCPA requires you to disclose the purpose of your call.
3. Request Payment in Full
This reminds the consumer of the total amount due. Never overshadow the FDCPA by demanding payment due within the consumer’s 30-day validation period.
It’s time for you to stop talking and let the consumer process your information. Let the consumer break the silence after a few seconds. Get ready to give 100% of your concentration to their answer. The pause is an important part of any conversation. If neither party stops for a moment to think, you won’t accomplish anything.
5. Ask About and Listen for Challenges
Did you hear clues about the consumer’s reason for nonpayment? Ask questions to learn more about the circumstances behind the debt. This information will help you craft payment plans. Did you hear a dispute or request to cease communication? What about bankruptcy information or attorney involvement? Remember to clearly document this information in the account notes and follow your next FDCPA steps.
6. Negotiate Solutions
Once you have obtained information that is as full and complete as possible, give the consumer reasonable choices for payment options that are suitable for you and the client. Again, never overshadow the FDCPA validation period.
7. Confirm Arrangements
If you’ve reached a payment agreement, review all the information with the consumer. Encourage them to take notes and repeat the plan back to you to make sure both of you understood each other. If you didn’t reach an agreement, tell the consumer how you will follow-up (according to your company and client policies).
8. Close the Call
End the call as politely and professionally as you began. Thank the consumer for their time and information. Finish your notes. Update any contact information and other facts you learned about the consumer and the debt. You can use these checkpoints to track your progress through your calls and develop your flow. They are also a great reminder of your compliance obligations.
ACA International is celebrating its new Essentials courses! To learn more, visit www.acainternational.org/education.
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