Complaints about debt collectors number in the ginormous every year. The volume is somewhat understandable. I mean… how many other professions do you spend nearly all of your time trying to get someone to do something they cannot or will not do? Let’s face it, getting people to pay bills they likely can no longer afford is not all smiles and niceties.
I started out my debt and credit career because I got angry after a friend shared with me what a debt collector said on the phone. This led to me researching debt collection consumer protections, that then led to my helping my friend settle that bill with a debt collector, and for much less than what was owed. That was more than 20 years ago.
I have helped people settle many thousands of debts since then. In that time I have seen debt collection complaints increase dramatically. There is little that a person can share with me about what a legitimate debt collector may have said or done (in an effort to get paid) that would shock me. Some of the full on scam debt collectors can still surprise me a little with how brazen they can be.
You do not often hear anyone talk about a pleasant experience with debt collectors. It is just not news worthy. How many people are going to read an article titled “Woman resolved an old bill by calling a debt collector with excellent communication skills”? How many people writing about personal finance topics would bother to write the article?
I am in somewhat of a unique position to write about other peoples experiences with debt collectors. The vast majority of my work with consumers has been teaching people to deal with debt collectors on their own. That means picking up collection calls and calling to speak with debt collectors themselves.
People often share a bit of nervous reluctance about talking with debt collectors, especially if they had a negative experience in the past, or read about collection drama online. But after sucking it up and calling, the overwhelming feedback from the people I work with tends to be how surprisingly easy it was to speak with debt collectors.
Admittedly, there are some things that set people up for success when speaking to a debt collector. I am usually working with people who are trying to resolve old unpaid bills. And most people I help have a realistic expectation about the potential outcome when resolving their accounts in collection. Talking to debt collectors when seeking a realistic solution is going to be different than when trying to avoid the debt all together.
There is no doubt that debt collectors behave badly. And they get all the press. When you do see something positive in the media about a debt collector, it is often a public relations puff piece (usually around the holidays). But the purpose of this post is to point out the fact that there are nice debt collectors too. By nice I mean they are easy to communicate with, and do not come across as if they are in a confrontation with you about your debt. A pleasant debt collector is still all about the business of collecting, so do not misunderstand their cordial tone. They still have a job to do, and that job is not to look after your best interests. That is still your job. But helping you understand how you can reach common ground (within your ability) to resolve unpaid bills, while maintaining professionalism and a pleasant tone, is what I view as an established metric worthy of recognizing.
I invite all readers to post in the comments below about any positives you experienced when dealing with a debt collector. You are invited to share the name of the debt collector, the collection agency they work for, and even their direct phone number and extension.
I will start this list off with a debt collector recognition and review of my own. I should set the situation up a little first.
Friends and family are well aware of the work I do. I get referrals from them for consults all the time. Even though I currently focus most of my time on publishing, I still actively work some files and accounts where I know the outcome is better reached by me communicating with the debt collector. That is what happened with a referral from a few weeks ago.
An elderly woman with a fixed income and no assets owed over $10,000.00 to one of the larger credit card banks. She had no ability to pay with additional medical expenses. Her account had been placed with an outside third party collection agency. Here is how that went.
The agency that was collecting the unpaid credit card was Global Credit and Collection Corp. The name of the debt collector that assisted me was Rohina Pasani.
When I negotiate bills for another person I need written or verbal authorization. I have forms for that with CRN letterhead that I have used for many years. This file was a personal referral, so I sent forms in to Global Credit and Collection that just contained my personal information and no company identifiers. And initially I did not mention I worked in the debt and credit industry to Ms. Pasani, just that I was helping someone I know. I am pointing this out so that readers know I was not given any different treatment than you might receive.
Rohina Pasani is a consummate debt collection professional. She recognized the account holders commitment to having maintained her account for so long, and immediately understood the financial situation required some concessions if the debt were to be resolved. I generally have a target amount of money to pay in order to resolve a debt before I call a debt collector. That target was reached, and there was no trouble getting the settlement agreement documented and sent to me. There was no trouble with getting the time needed (a couple of weeks) for the money to be available to pay the amount agreed to.
Once the agreement with Global Credit and Collection was reached and everything put in motion with the payment, I did mention I had experience in the debt and credit space, but only in passing when thanking Ms. Pasani for helping resolve the account.
I have only truly had one debt collector conversation that I hung up from thinking “I could have gone my whole life without having made that call”. On the flip side, the majority of people I have communicated with to resolve debts have not left an indelible impression. Rohina Pasani is an exception.
I wanted to write this post to recognize Ms. Pasani, and also to have an article up that I can send people to in order to share their own story. If you have a positive debt collection experience to share, and would like to recognize a debt collector, you are welcome to share in the comments below.