Confessions From A Collection Agent

Tree Langdon

8 Things To Say When They Call You

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Early in my career, I had the unenviable duty of calling customers who were behind on their payments.

I’ve collected bad debts for many different companies.

They were in a lot of different businesses.

I worked for small convenience stores, a deep-sea cargo storage facility, and a company that sold inflatable packers for pressure testing oil wells.

They all had the same problem.

People who didn't pay their bills.

I’ve heard a lot of sad stories, believe me.

Some were probably true.

Sometimes I could tell the person was telling the truth and they really were in a bad situation.

It’s hard to be the bad guy in those circumstances, even though it’s your job.

When they start begging you to give them more time, it's difficult to stick to the script and push harder.

Debt collection can feel so personal.

  • I’ve been on the receiving end of collection calls too.

It’s embarrassing and always made me feel like a loser.

It’s not a pleasant experience for either person, but you can make it easier.

I’m assuming you’re deeply in debt, at the stage where you’re fending off collection calls.

  • The pandemic has impacted your job and you’re trying to figure out how to hang in there until it's over.
  • I’m assuming you are firmly committed to getting back on track.
  • You've been working on a plan to get caught up.

Now you need to communicate with the creditors.

It’s hard to admit you can’t pay the amount you owe.

It's better to talk about it before they cut off your power or send your bill to collections.

Communication is key.

  • If you avoid their calls, they will assume you’re not going to pay your bill.

Remember this: the person on the other end of the phone is only trying to do their job.

  • Their job is to get you back on track and collect the money you owe.

They don’t want you to default and they certainly don’t want to take your assets or take you to court.

  • The best solution for everyone is for you to figure out how to make the payments.

Remember they’re a person too.

Here are 8 things to do when you speak with a collections agent.

  1. Be proactive. Call them; don’t wait for them to make their next call. They will be pleasantly surprised. They might not be nice, but they will be surprised.
  2. Listen. The first conversation will likely be you listening to them tell you what will happen if they don’t get all of the money you owe right now. There’s a certain amount of frustration built up which needs to be vented. Also, the collections clerk has a script to follow and they need to say certain things.
  3. Take notes. Get their name. Write down the amount and any dates they mention. Ask them to repeat information if you don’t get it the first time through.
  4. Let them know you are making notes. This shows interest in what they are saying and also shows that you are serious about the debt.
  5. When they give you a chance to talk, you want to do these three things.
    -Apologize for missing the payments.
    -Tell them you have a plan to catch up.
    -Tell them how much you are able to pay monthly.
  6. Now you get to listen again. They might repeat their script. Remember they are doing their job, even if they get personal.
  7. Calmly repeat a version of #5 again. If they insist on threatening, tell them you are going to stick to your plan and you will be happy to talk about it another time. Be polite.
  8. Thank them for their time and end the call.

Now comes the difficult part, follow through with your plan.

  • Make your payments and don't ignore their calls.

Remember they are people too.

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A merchant of dreams. ♡ I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA
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