Tips For Successful Collections
- PREPARE: Review the paperwork on the debtor before making the call. Know the history of the account, credit record, the promises kept/broken. Have all records in front of you, ready for reference.
- ATTITUDE: Adopt a straight, professional business-like attitude. You have a contract, you delivered the goods, money is owed, and you have a right to expect payment. Never let it become personal. Don't yell or raise your voice; and NEVER swear. Don't threaten; legal action is your recourse.
- CONTACT: Make sure you're talking to the right person. Don't let the individual brush you off with "You'll have to talk to the bookkeeper." Identify the person who will pay the bill. If you can't get through after several calls, tell the secretary that you know your calls are being screened. Indicate the purpose of your call and if necessary give deadlines.
- CONTROL: Control the conversation. Keep it focused on the debt and on the repayment schedule. Don't let the customer sidetrack you with personal history, excuses, etc. Remember, the object of your call is to collect money, or get a commitment, not to become buddies with the customer or win arguments.
- FLEXIBLE: Be ready to adjust to the situation. Think about the kind of customer you're dealing with and adapt to meet the circumstances. Be prepared to accept a reasonable payment schedule, and a willingness to deal with a customer's circumstances.
- NOTES: Keep detailed, accurate notes of every contact with the customer. Probe for further information on the customer. Notes of these contacts will help you in subsequent phone calls, and may be invaluable in litigation. Good notes will also help in further credit decisions, or in cases where skip tracing may be needed.
- PRODUCTIVE: Keep contact brief and to the point. This is a business call, not a social one. View your efforts on a ratio of time expended to results achieved. Long conversations probably mean the customer is stalling you, or trapping you in the buddy syndrome.
- PRECISE: Never leave a contact open ended, such as "We'll talk next week," or "I'll send what I can." Every contact should result in a commitment to payment, of a specific amount, by a specific date, even the check number the customer is using to pay the pledge.
- TIME: The longer an account is held, the less that will be recovered. If payment or a payout is not arranged within 90 days, place the claim with a collection agency or start legal proceedings.
- PLACEMENT: Use only an agency that is a member of the Commercial Collection Agency Section of the Commercial Law League of America or the American Collectors Association. This will insure that you're dealing with ethical professionals who are fully bonded to guarantee your remittance.
How to Contact The National Credit Bureaus
For Consumer Disputes & Questions:
PO Box 740193
Atlanta, GA 30374-0193
The Credit Bureau, Inc.
PO Box 596
Pittsburg, PA 15230
PO Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
For Fraud Issues:
PO Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
PO Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
We recommend calling any credit bureau before writing to them. Phone numbers and addresses change without notice. When you receive your credit report, you will also receive instructions and forms for disputing any inaccuracies you believe need to be corrected.