The ACA, the BBB, and the CAC — does this sound like a meaningless alphabet soup? Believe it or not, these letters are important, especially if you’re looking for a good debts collection company.
So what are they?
The ACA International is an association for credit and collections professionals. Part of their role is to provide information to legislators and government agencies and to advocate on behalf of ethical organizations. Member agencies receive industry updates from the ACA, so they know about the many ongoing issues and legalities that might affect the way they conduct business. In addition, the ACA establishes stringent ethical guidelines. Membership is voluntary (and isn’t free), so you know if your agency has chosen to be a member, it’s because they care about staying current and conducting their business ethically.
You’re probably familiar with the Better Business Bureau, or BBB, at least in name. They collect information regarding the reliability of businesses, alert consumers and businesses to frauds, promote ethical practices, and mediate disputes between consumers and businesses. They rate businesses for integrity and performance, regardless of whether the business chooses to be a member. Again, membership is voluntary, so those who choose to join are trying to send the message to their customers that they care about doing business fairly.
The CAC — California Association of Collectors — is slightly more obscure, mostly because they’re a state-based organization. Like the ACA, they insist on high ethical standards for member organizations and provide important news and information to consumers and agencies.
For one thing, the debts collection industry gets a lot of bad press. While much of that may be hype, it’s important to know that your agency is concerned about ethics, aware of the potential pitfalls, and doing everything they can to avoid them. This impacts your bottom line. An unethical agency can create legal issues and bitter customer relationships. The customer then associates their bad collections experience back to your company. Bad press also can mean more industry regulation, which can drive up costs and make it more difficult to afford a good debt collection agency.
The most important thing, though, whether you’re a consumer, a business, or a legislator, is information. These associations provide industry news and information, hold informational conferences, and furnish important resources for their members and consumers. For example, the ACA just published a blueprint for modernizing the debts collection industry in light of new technologies and regulations.
Remember our posts on identity theft? A collections agency operating in isolation may be unaware of the most pressing consumer threats, like these charity scams of which the BBB warns, or be unconcerned about protecting consumer data to prevent hacking.
If you’re a consumer dealing with identity theft issues, it’s nice to know that these associations have helpful articles and resources to help you deal with debts accumulated fraudulently in your name, as with this article from the CAC.
Sometimes the information isn’t necessarily collections related, as with the ACA’s Ask Doctor Debt site, a resource for any financial concerns in a helpful Q&A format. To help prevent these kinds of questions, the CAC has an educational scholarship foundation, encouraging youth to consider such topics as “The Importance of Establishing and Maintaining Good Financial Credit During Your College Years.” (Many people likely wish they had thought about that before they got a college credit card!)
As you can see, the associations and affiliations your collections agency chooses really matters. By voluntarily signing up for organizations that promote professionalism, spread knowledge, and insist on ethical behavior, they’re making a statement that they understand and care about their impact on you and your customers. So if you’re unsure about which debts collection agency to choose from the soup, just go back to your ABCs.