There are certain jobs and industries where cutting corners is acceptable or even considered harmless. The accounts receivable industry, where debt collection values are revered, is not one of them.
“What harm,” one may ask, “is there in not fully complying with state and federal laws, or not documenting business activities such as letters or phone calls?” That type of slack may cut it in some sectors, but not in debt collections.
There are other ways to use and abuse reasonable and customary actions, including the harassment of consumers at their place of employment or contacting them during embargoed hours of the day.
Organizations in need of debt collections are well served by agencies that were established on the principles of commitment, respect, accountability and transparency. Those core values form the foundation of compliant collection plans, resulting in greater return on investment and consumer satisfaction.
Debt collection agencies need to make a series of essential commitments as they go about the business of establishing a company with solid core values.
First, employees deserve a safe workplace that upholds all civil rights and liberties, nurtures a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, and fosters an entrepreneurial spirit leading to advancement.
Furthermore, a commitment by agencies to full compliance includes the laws protecting consumer interests: Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and more.
That commitment is a function of maintaining a properly trained staff composed of ACA certified Credit and Collection Compliance Officers and collectors, and a legal team. Empowered by this training, collectors use it to their advantage while interacting with consumers in a positive manner.
Last, but not least is the commitment to protecting consumer data with audited financial reporting (SSAE 16 SOC I Type II) and Professional Practices Management System (PPMS) certification by ACA International.
Consumers deserve the same degree of respect that is bestowed up employees working for clients or agencies. Those considerations begin with the reading of the Mini Miranda and continue through each and every demand letter or phone call.
Respect is ensured by diplomatic interactions and a strict conduct policy that is detailed by the FDCPA:
- No harassment or shaming
- No misrepresentations
- No profanity or abusive language
- No threat of harm to consumers or their reputation
- No callback after consumer hang ups
- No email or fax without prior authorization
- No text messages
Agencies create accountability by being attentive to the concerns and interests of clients and consumers while simultaneously maintaining legal compliance and full transparency.
Accountability is a cornerstone of nearly all consumer protection acts including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Furthermore, agency collectors gain a sense of confidence knowing their organization follows the law. Those positive feelings incentivize their ability to contact consumers going through financial difficulties and negotiate realistic repayment plans.
While not written into collections law, transparency enables all interested parties to achieve mutual success and make informed decisions. Full transparency instills a sense of trust in clients and consumers, and encourages brand loyalty among the latter.
Clients should receive around-the-clock access to secure account information, and simultaneously, consumers are entitled to fair assessment of their financial situations, honest answers to their questions, and flexible terms to pay back their debt.
Transparency also means that clients are immediately informed about changes in collection laws and regulations. Legal teams that understand upcoming compliance changes are able to properly advise their collection officers and help foster the continuity of the collections process.
The Sum of Debt Collection Values
The principals of commitment, respect, accountability and transparency are ideally part of a company culture that is rooted among the belief systems of agency founders. There is a certain amount of durability to the process as senior executives eventually move on after breaking in their replacements, but not before the debt collection values are instilled in that next generation of leaders.
Solid core values also provide structure when difficult situations test the limits of company ethical standards, often tipping the scales in favor of one decision or another.
Maintaining debt collection values is an interdependent, holistic process. Improving value on one level generally improves the value of all others, and improving value on all levels generally improves the value that agencies offer to clients.
Optio’s longstanding core values have helped established a solid track record with its clients. Contact us today to learn how those values can help your organization recover debt while maintaining brand loyalty with consumers.