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Debt collectors should disclose credentials to put debtors at ease

Sep 17, 2013 Philip Burgess

Across the country, debt collection scammers are making it more difficult for reputable account agents to do their jobs. Stories about fake debt services groups accessing consumer finances continue to abound, which has made the public extremely cautious when dealing with collection calls.

As a result, some professional debt groups across the United States may have trouble contacting and gaining the trust of debtors. This is hardly beneficial for any party, including the collector, the consumer and even the public that relies on debt services to support the economy and help businesses recover late payments.

According to insideARM, fake debt collectors in Tampa, Florida, recently reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in regards to phony collection attempts that duped Floridians out of millions of dollars. In this instance, the defendants falsely claimed to have the ability to reduce the credit card interest rates of scammed consumers. Through a complex system of fake debt collection agencies, the defendants were able to collect debts from consumers for short term lending products that were not owed or were owed to another party.

Similar events have cropped up in Wisconsin, according to The Journal Sentinel. The source reported that officials with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions recently warned citizens to be on the lookout for deceptive debt collection practices that are most likely coming from uncertified collectors running scams. In particular, the officials stated that consumers should report claims of impending arrest made by collectors, as they may be an indicator of criminal activity.

Take the right steps to help consumers
With so many fake collection attempts being made across the nation, professional collectors need to provide the best service possible. To put consumers at ease, agents should be able to identify the organization they work for, which is actually mandatory under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Doing so will allow skeptical consumers to investigate the credentials. Once they have discovered that a collector is indeed a valid professional, they should be more willing to address their outstanding debts.

Also, all agents should take aggressive steps to ensure they fully understand state laws and the stipulations included in the federal FDCPA.

Additionally, industry professionals should make sure they are communicating with debtors in a respectful manner. Attempting to connect with a consumer and discuss their overall financial status will help collectors convey that they are looking to formulate a payment plan that a debtor can keep up with.