Traditionally, debt collection encompassed contacting consumers primarily by letter and telephone.
Methods of contacting the consumer were simple. Letters would be mailed and a customer service representative from a debt collection law firm like M.L. Zager, PC (Zager) would call the consumer on their landline phone to attempt to collect the debt.
Then, it got more complicated.
Today, there are complex rules and regulations to adhere to under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), but highly trained and experienced employees for debt collection law firms like Zager regularly perform these tasks.
Now in today’s new age of communications, with email, texting, and social media sites being used as the consumer’s primary point of contact, collecting debts has become even more sophisticated, and looks to become even more regulated too in the near future.
Landline phones are becoming antiquated and wireless phones have now become an integral part of the daily lives of millions of Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which twice a year tracks the percentage of households that still use landlines, reported in December that 35.8% of U.S. households have gone wireless-only, a 77.2% bump over late 2008. In addition, only 9.4% of households remain landline-only, a decrease of roughly 46 percent during that same period. Pew Research earlier this year found that As of January 2013 that 87% of American adults have a cell phone and 45% of American adults have a Smartphone.
So if you want to collect a debt, it probably means emailing, texting, or calling the consumer on their Smartphone.
While regulation of debt collection practices in regard to communicating with debtors remain unclear in regard to using email, social media communication and texting, and because third-party agencies must still follow the FDCPA written in the 1970s (pre-cellphones, pre-social media), and the TCPA written in the 1990s, creditors must be careful to continue to follow the rules that are in place.
Regulatory agencies are now scrambling to catch up to regulate debt collection in regard to this explosion in technological breakthroughs in communication.
In regard to these new means of communication and notice provisions, it’s a given that methods of contact and other collection activities will be soon more regulated by the new U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and continually litigated by attorneys in the courts. It is probably only a matter of time before you become regulated by the CFPB when attempting to collect your own receivables.
So it’s absolutely imperative in terms of increasing the chances of collecting your receivables that when devising and presenting consumer agreements, include documents that contain clear, concise language that allows contact by email, cell phone, landline, Facebook, Twitter, texting and other means of social media and electronic communication if the account becomes overdue or goes into collection.
Here’s a sample of such language that should be incorporated into your consumer agreements:
“You agree, in order to service your account or to collect any amounts you may owe, we may call you by telephone at any telephone number associated with your account, including wireless telephone numbers, which could result in charges to you. We may also contact you by sending text messages, emails or other forms of electronic means using email addresses and contact information that you provide. Methods of contact may include using pre-recorded/artificial voice messages and or the use of an automatic dialing device.”
Zager makes it a point to review and revise client agreements to ensure that if a file goes into collection, all debt collection regulations are being complied with and best practices are being followed.
In this uncertain time when communications patterns of Americans are changing and growing more sophisticated and the debt collection regulatory climate becomes more complex and burdensome, Zager is working hard to keep our clients ahead of the curve in this tough environment.
Zager has smart, experienced collection attorneys and support staff to analyze collection accounts and their written contract or documents.
We have a proven track record in the industry of providing the best legal representation to creditors from the beginning of the difficult collection process until the end.
We know the ins and outs of the debt collection, and how to craft your agreements with your customers so that if the account goes into collection you have the best chance to get paid.
Contact me today by replying to this email or calling us at 845-794-3660 and let The Law Offices of M.L Zager, P.C. assist you in reducing your accounts receivables to the utmost and collecting your debts.