You’d think that the recession would have debt collectors riding on high—after all, the more people pile on debt, the more companies need collection agencies to recover that debt. And yet, to talk with collectors, as NY Times reporter Andrew Martin did for his June 13 piece on paying collectors a little respect, the picture is not so rosy. Hard times tend to fashion harsh people who don’t take very kindly to requests for money they don’t have. It seems more business doesn’t exactly equate to better business (or easier business, for that matter). Collectors are routinely cursed at, threatened with violence, and belittled to the point that many are calling for new laws to protect them against such attacks.
Collection agencies and industry insiders won’t be grounding their appeals for new laws solely in stories of abusive encounters, though. They’ve got some alarming statistics to refer to as well. For instance, according to ACA International (The American Creditors Association), the number of federal lawsuits by consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Act has more than doubled since the recession. This has not helped business, and it’s not helping the justice system, either. Excessive lawsuits only diminish efficiency and exacerbate the problem for everyone involved.
As good a read as Martin’s article is, we didn’t need to consult the NY Times to know all of this. Our resident ARM expert, Mike Erney, is in conversation and consultation with industry veterans all the time. They’re all asking for change—have been for some time now. While everyone waits, though, the bigger question on everyone’s lips is: what can we be doing better? Mike’s consistent response: hire the best people you possibly can; the ones who hold themselves to the highest possible standards. If you do that, then you can continue conducting business with the confidence that your Compliance Department, your Collections team, and your Corporate Counsel are living up to the standards this industry should abide by, change or no change.