Before conducting debt collections, make sure you understand the do’s and don’ts of the industry.
The do’s and don’ts of collecting debt are a sticky wicket. If you do it wrong, you can alienate potential customers, ruin your reputation, and maybe even pick up a hefty fine from regulators. Playing by the rules means compliance with all laws, certainly, but also collecting debt in a way that treats every customer with dignity and respect.
Here are five things to avoid when collecting debt from customers.
Do Not Try This at Home – or at the Office
We’ve heard all the horror stories from collections gone awry. Industry publications such as Inside ARM often report on companies fined by regulators for breaking collection regulations. Our biggest complaint, beyond the fact that these techniques are generally not effective, is that conducting yourself in this manner gives the collections industry a bad reputation. Not good!
The best course of action is to partner with a professional collection agency like Rocket Receivables. But just in case you plan to give debt recovery on your own a try, we are providing a list of things that should never be part of your DIY debt collection strategy:
- Don’t stalk your customers. Really! This means you (or the debt collector for that matter) cannot show up at someone’s workplace and demand they pay you. The law also prohibits you from publicizing the debt, too, so even though you want to go on Facebook call out someone that owes you money – don’t. Here is the caveat: You may, respectfully, call the customer at work but you cannot let the other workers know that you’re trying to collect on a debt. Plus, if the customer asks you to not call them at work, you legally must comply.
- Don’t harass your customers. See #1. But actions such as repeated calls, threats of violence, and extreme language are not only bad form, they’re illegal too. For a small business owner, it feels personal when someone doesn’t pay. But conducting yourself in a professional way will pay off in the long run.
There are rules about pursuing debt collections – make sure you follow them.
- You can’t arrest the debtor. Sorry, we know this may not feel fair, but if a customer is 90-days past due, you cannot call 911 for help. However, there may be legal actions you can take in certain circumstances.
- You cannot pursue the debtor for things they don’t owe. This happens a lot when the data you have on the customer is inaccurate. So many times we see that the person already paid the debt but the information wasn’t logged properly. A simple mistake can land you in hot water, so use caution and double-check the facts before pursuing a debt.
- Call at odd hours of the day and night. Did you know there are rules that state you can only call a past-due customer between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm? For small business owners that work hard all day, this means just because you’re up at 7:30 am you can’t squeeze in a few collections calls.
If you’re worried about running afoul of the rules of collecting debt, you don’t need to. Rocket Receivables has a proven, compliant, and cost-effective method to get you paid. Contact us to request info about our service.