The holidays are quickly approaching and that means consumers will be inundated with sales and gift idea must haves for their families. For debt collectors, this time of year can be especially challenging when attempting to recover past due bills and bad debt. On the one hand, the debt is past due and businesses have a right to be paid. On the other hand, debt collectors must be sensitive to the financial challenges of the debtors they're contacting.
For Collectors, what is the best way to collect receivables during the holidays?
Debt Collection On Holidays
Many consumers wonder if debt collectors can still contact them during the holidays. In accordance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are limited to certain contact options with consumers but holidays are not prohibited. Debt collectors are not allowed to call:
- Repeatedly during the same day
- After 9 pm local time
- Before 8 am local time
- If the debtor has sent a written request for communication to stop
- The debtor's workplace if the debtor has requested it or if the employer doesn't allow it
- Any third parties unless given consent by the debtor
- If the debt has not been verified
Recovering Debt During the Holidays
There really is no perfect time of year to recover debt. The holidays may be especially stressful to consumers, however, and that may mean the phone calls become more emotional or escalated than other times. Contacting consumers about their debt should always be handled with care.
During the holidays, as with any other time of year, debt collectors must be patient and offer firm but fair customer service. Here are tips for recovering debt during the holidays:
It starts with the collections agent.
The debt collections agent can set the tone for the call before picking up the phone. If the agent is centered, calm, and confident, their attitude will affect the debtor on the end of the receiver. Even if the debtor is upset, the collections agent's demeanor will calm the other party.
Listening goes a long way.
Once the debt collections agent informs the consumer of their debt, the debtor may become emotional or angry. They may have pent up anxiety about their financial situation as a whole, and it may be exacerbated by holiday stress. Allowing them to vent, and listening without speaking, may help to steer the conversation in a positive manner.
FDCPA compliance is important.
Not all consumers understand or have knowledge of their FDCPA rights but collections agencies still have to comply.These regulations have been well considered to avoid creating more stress on the consumer about their debt than necessary. Honoring these rights may help to build trust during contact with the consumer.
Meet the debtor where they are.
The collections agent must have flexible options available to present to the debtor. These can be a variety of payment options, payment plans, or other arrangements to satisfy the needs of the business and meet the debtor's situation. When the agent works with the debtor, the individual may find a little stress relief in that they can actually pay off something they'd been avoiding for a while.
For property managers, retailers, healthcare offices, service providers, and more, you also deserve happy holidays. As the end of the year draws nearer, consider end-of-year accounts receivable practices including following up on past due bills and bad debt. It may be time to consider a consumer debt collections agency that not only recovers past due accounts receivable, but is also sensitive to the needs of your customers.
If you have any questions about BYL Collections, the industries we serve, and how we can help, contact us!