Collector magazine, the monthly flagship publication of ACA International, has 4,500 print and 1,500 online subscribers from debt collection agencies and credit executives around the world. ACA International (Association of Credit and Collection Professionals) also offers a comprehensive website, the ACA Daily newsletter, the Pulse members-only site for healthcare collection agencies, and The Hub online community resource.
The May 2017 edition of Collector includes a cover story, two Features, four short Highlights, and nearly a dozen Columns and Departments that remain on point. Note: ACA International offers complete PDF versions of Collector going back to July 2009.
The cover story, “At Your Service,” discusses the growing emphasis on customer service and self-service options among successful companies and their relevance to debt collectors. Citing data from the Gartner research firm, the article states that consumers will manage 85% of their relationships with companies without human interaction by 2020. It also points out four areas for debt collectors to focus on:
- Be a Resource by providing easy answers to consumer questions.
- Customize Your Communications with the modes preferred by individual consumers — email and text messages in addition to phone calls and letters.
- Provide Easy Payment Options with a versatile online payment portal.
- Spread the Word using cross-promotion.
Featured Articles for Debt Collection Agencies
Equally compelling, “A Clean Slate” looks at the current status of students loans in the US Bankruptcy Courts. “Since 1976, Congress has gradually reshaped how student loan debt is treated in bankruptcy, severely limiting the circumstances leading to discharge in an effort to prevent consumers from abusing the system,” states the article.
It also differentiates between federal and private loans: “Borrowers can only discharge their federal student loans in bankruptcy if they can prove the loans are causing them ‘undue hardship.’ But borrowers may be able to discharge private student loans without proving undue hardship.”
The article details the “undue hardship” provision, Congress’ lack of defining it properly, and how it has been interpreted by courts ruling in favor of consumers.
The piece closes with a comment from Justin Draeger, the president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: “If we’re talking about anybody who has reached a point where they are completely insolvent and are unable to move forward economically in their lives because of poor decisions, circumstances, whatever — we have developed ways for people to declare bankruptcy and restructure and have their debts dismissed.”
The Highlights category covers topics such as “Sun Tzu and the Art of Collection Sales” (applying ancient military strategies to debt collections), “We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This” (how to present more engaging team meetings) and “ACA Files Brief in Pivotal Case Challenging CFPB’s Structure and Power” (about “PHH Corp., et al. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, No. 15-01177”).
Columns & Departments
Beginning with “Upfront” by ACA International CEO Patrick J. Morris, Collector offers several columns on a variety of components to help debt collection agencies stay on top of their game with effective operations and strategies. Other columns are equally compelling:
- “Best Practices” discusses how to respond to online criticism — from monitoring consumer complaints, to deciding if and when to make a stand, to offering the right amount of help to consumers seeking answers.
- “FYI” briefly reviews consumer credit card practices while “Collection Tips” offers brief advice on auto loan collections.
- “Compliance” dissects the process of dealing with consumers who use verbal and written requests to cease communications from debt collection agencies.
- “ACA SearchPoint” looks at the fallout from contacting the wrong party and how it can be in violation of laws including the FDCPA and TCPA.
Finally, “Last Word” offers tips on how to build a team by reaching out to the community with volunteer efforts. “Sometimes the most fulfilling initiatives have humble beginnings,” wrote author Katy Zillmer, ACA International’s communications specialist. Zillmer shines the spotlight on Youth RISE, a non-profit mentoring group in Kansas City, Missouri that provides recreational and academic enrichment to youth at risk.
Working in tandem with ACA’s other publications, Collector magazine is a must read for anyone working in collections at the agency or in-house levels. Look for our curation of the immense ACA International website in the upcoming months.
Optio Solutions applauds the efforts of ACA International and welcomes the opportunity to “nurture a culture of continuous improvement” as part of its mission statement.
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