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Collectors hampered by technological restrictions

Dec 16, 2011 Mike Garretson

According to a recent white paper from late-stage receivables recovery firm Northland Group, more than 20 percent of American homes are equipped with only wireless phones. This rising disparity between cellphone and landline use has created a quandary for debt collectors, whose efforts have become less effective due to Federal Communications Commission rulings, minimal access and privacy restrictions. Caller ID and call blocking - two features seen on most cellphones - also act as a barrier to finding debtors, since people can simply choose not to answer a call from a number they don't know or a number they know is a collection agency. Furthermore, repeated calls can be construed at harassment, which is a main reason why robocalling and autodialing is frowned upon under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In order to combat these impediments, Northland suggests continued incorporation of traditional calling methods while searching for "new, creative and emerging strategies" that are viable and elicit a positive consumer response. Collectors are also being restricted from using another form of technology - Facebook - to find debtors. The United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading has ordered all agencies to refrain from using social media platforms entirely in the collection process, Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors' blog reports.