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Debt collectors' role defended

Oct 24, 2014 Philip Burgess

Debt collectors' role defended

The role of the debt collector comes under fire with some regularity. These professionals are often viewed with trepidation because, at their cores, many consumers are afraid to work with them. Being contacted by a debt collection agent means, more often than not, that they have done something wrong with their finances and they likely owe money to a business or individual.

Over time, though, this sentiment has evolved into something else - many individuals have a bias against those who work in the industry and generally do not think well of the professionals. That being said, they're really just doing their jobs and, actually, these positions pump a lot of money back into the economy.

A recent letter to the editor in The New York Times penned by Jan Stieger, executive director at DBA International, provided a great defense for the critics and potentially opens up the situation for more collaboration and positive feelings toward the industry as a whole.

A service to the economy

As Stieger pointed out, debt recovery agents take on a significant responsibility within the economy.

Think of it this way - if people don't pay back businesses they owe money to, those companies are going to eventually have to raise their prices to deal with the loss. This means that a number of consumers won't be shopping at these places any longer, thereby affecting the market as a whole.

"Efforts to collect debt from a very small percentage of people are essential to keep a credit-based economy moving," Stieger wrote. "Doing so preserves low interest rates and helps businesses keep the cost of goods and services reasonable."

Work with, not against
Something that many consumers may not realize is that debt collectors are here to help, not harm. The fact of the matter is that if an individual has an account in collections, he or she rightly owes money, and even though the agent is trying to recover it, it's not the professional's fault - it's simply his or her job.

However, when people are more open to coming up with a plan and showing good faith with at least one payment - even if they can't afford the whole amount - agents are overwhelmingly willing to work with them to come up with a schedule that works for all involved. This strategy can help set recovery companies apart from the competition and ultimately close more open cases. If this becomes the norm, this might even sway the popular perception of debt collection's role in society.