Oct 20, 2014 Philip Burgess
Stuff happens, we're only human, you can learn from your mistakes - there are countless sayings about committing errors. And for good reason - they happen all the time and everyone, at one point or another, has messed up. However, no matter the industry, company leaders have to make sure to keep these blunders to a minimum if they want to continue to remain in business.
This sentiment rings true for debt collection agents. These professionals have to follow a strict code, and ever since the inception of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, regulators have been keeping a close eye on each and every player in the sector. Individuals are able to file complaints with the organization if they believe recovery agents have broken laws, which can be the case if they do anything from calling too late in the evening to using threatening language in communications.
However, it should be noted that the debt collection industry recently got a boost when information was released detailing that consumer credit complaints decreased in August, continuing positive gains for Q3 2014.
Complaints took a dive in the late summer
According to insideARM, the CFPB saw a decrease in the number of complaints lobbied by consumers against the debt collection industry in August. The news source detailed that the organization published 3,169 grievances in August, compared to the 3,400 consumer issues brought to light in both June and July.
There is a caveat to this good news, however. InsideARM pointed out that while overall, the sheer volume of grievances fell, the number of complaints involving consumers claiming that the alleged debt did not belong to them rose in the last full month of the summer. The news outlet noted that this figure was more than the corresponding number recorded in June and July.
As insideARM reported, the greatest amount of complaints fell in the "other" category in August - this can include issues lobbied against health clubs, telecom companies, cable providers and other miscellaneous businesses.
When consumers file grievances with the CFPB, they have to give a reason. The news source explained that both those involving the volume of calls received and agents not sharing information that can help verify the debt trended downward as August wrapped up.
How should companies handle complaints?
When consumer grievances are filed with the CFPB, there are very specific processes that have to be followed. There are a number of industry best practices that need to be adhered to, and there are laws and statutes - local, statewide and federal - with which recovery agencies must prepare to contend. Consulting with a legal expert is often a good choice at this time, depending on the severity of the mistake made - or if the business wants to contest the blunder. Going forward, the company can expect to be scrutinized by regulatory bodies to make sure mistakes don't continue to be made.
Other than the legal aspects that have to be dealt with, there are a number of steps collectors should prepare to take to ensure mistakes don't happen in the future. If it's a one-time mix-up, perhaps administrators should simply talk to the worker who made the blunder and have a one-to-one instruction session on how to avoid this in the future.
That being said, if there's a pattern or the same types of errors have been made by multiple agents, it might be beneficial for company leaders to take another pass at instructional materials to make sure they've been updated with the latest rules and requirements. They should verify that newly onboarded employees are being taught not to make these specific mistakes from day one. Once everyone at the company is on the same page, the organization can move forward and garner success well into the future.