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How to work with suspicious debtors over the phone

Jan 23, 2015 Philip Burgess

Calling up consumers can be nerve-wracking, especially when planning to talk about such a sensitive topic like debt. It's even more difficult when there are various scammers that pose as debt collectors and give professionals a bad reputation.

Since media reports on how to avoid debt collector scams continue to crop up, collectors may have to confront these strategies over the phone.

Here are some ways to appease a debtor and get to the necessary conversation:

Answering the questions they ask
The Simple Dollar highlighted the inquiries the public should have when a debt collector calls. An agent should be sure to have all of the relevant information prepared before contacting a debtor.

This includes the name, address and phone number of the agency and the name and address of the consumer. This may seem obvious, but if a professional has to search for this information after the customer asks for it, his or her credibility can be at risk. The source also recommended that debtors ask for their Social Security number over the phone as a trick question for fake collectors. Legitimate collectors typically never give that information over the phone, in following with the law, which makes it a good way to spot scammers. Knowing what the worst can be
Fake debt collectors have used all kinds of awful tactics to get victims to pay up, and Investopedia reviewed the things that agents legally cannot do or say. For example, many scam artists try to threaten victims with charging them for fraud, saying they'll have them arrested or even pretending to work for law enforcement. The source mentioned an incident in 2014 when six employees of Williams, Scott & Associates were arrested for allegedly accusing people of fraud and misrepresenting themselves as government workers. The public will be looking out for these threats or any hint of misrepresentation, which means that a professional should be open in explaining his or her agency on the phone. The more information a debtor has about the company and the process, the more likely they are to cooperate. Being ready to challenge your patience
KJCT-8 warned readers about talking to debt collectors on the phone at all. This can be a huge challenge for a collector attempting to work with the debtor on the phone.

"If you've picked up the phone and you don't know who's calling and [they're] asking for bank account or your Social Security number or information that shouldn't be given over the phone then just hang up," Heather Benjamin, of the Mesa County's Sheriffs' office in Colorado, told the source.  This is why it is crucial to be as open as possible with the individual so he or she can trust the agent. This method will make the process easier for both the collector and the debtor. Unfortunately, the public typically believes that there isn't a fine line between professionals and scam artists, but if an agent tries to be as patient and understanding as he or she can with the person on the phone, it's possible to change their perception.