Author Topic: Understanding Collection Agencies  (Read 18621 times)

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Flyingifr

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Understanding Collection Agencies
« on: October 15, 2005 01:49:08 AM »
<<<Note - this is NOT a discussion of what is legal and what is not legal    it is a discussion of how a Collector THINKS. Knowing how they think helps a debtor deal with them.>>>

UNDERSTANDING THE COLLECTION AGENCY

The first step in knowing how to deal with a Collection Agency is to get inside their heads and understand the Psychology of the Collection Agency. Once you understand that part    you can successfully deal with the CA Collector. Nothing in this essay applies to Original Creditors    only third party debt collectors (3PDC’s). It makes no difference whether the 3PDC actually bought the debt or is just working the account for the Original Creditor (OC).

First    in most cases it is not generally productive to go back to the OC    since most 3PDC contracts with OC’s require the OC to bow-out of the collection picture. It is rare that the OC will override a 3PDC since the OC has already charged the account off as a loss    and the OC’s collection department has given up on collecting on their own efforts. Frankly    they really don’t care if you come back as a customer or not    but if you do    it will be as a CASH customer. The only time an OC will pull an account back from a PDC is if the 3PDC is behaving so reckless that its actions are likely to land the OC in court along with the 3PDC.

The 3PDC may or may not have attorneys on staff. Those attorneys may or may not be licensed to practice your state. The CA itself may or may not be licensed to practice in your state. These are things you can generally check on your own    before actually talking with a 3PDC. While you are at it    research your state’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) for the type of debt the 3PDC is trying to collect. The SOL comes into play when you have not made any payment within the statutory period and the creditor (OC or 3PDC) has not started a suit in the statutory time. In many states    making a payment – any payment – on a debt re-starts the SOL. The importance of knowing the SOL for your state cannot be stressed enough. If a debt is Outside of Statute (beyond the time frame of the Statute) then SOL becomes an Affirmative Defense if you are sued. The purpose of the SOL is simple: the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution (and most State Constitutions    but applicable to the States by the 16th Amendment) guarantees a speedy trial. His applies to Civil matters also. The reason is simple – over time witnesses die or move away and documents get lost or destroyed. The SOL fixes a time where the creditor must sue or forget about it    and eliminates the “Justice to the Packrat” problem. SOL applies to the state in which you live at the time    not where you lived when the debt was incurred or where the 3PDC is located.

Types of 3PDC’s

There are basically two types of 3PDC’s: Letter writers and Collection Agencies. Letter Writers only do just that – write letters. The letters will direct you to contact the OC and will not demand payment be made to the 3PDC. One of the larger Letter Writer 3PDC’s is IC Systems. Remember though – just because they are Letter Writers doesn’t mean they are not governed by FDCPA – they are.

Collection Agency letters will want the payment sent directly to the Collection Agency – so they can be sure to deduct their commission before they send the remainder on to the OC. Both types must have the mini-Miranda on their correspondence and must honor to Validation and Cease-Comm letters.
What to do when the Collector calls

It is unusual    but not uncommon    for a 3PDC ‘s first collection efforts to be by telephone. The reason has to do with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act    which you should make yourself intimately familiar with. Also make yourself intimately familiar with the FTC’s Staff Opinion Letters. FDCPA requires communications from a 3PDC to have the “mini-Miranda” warning on it. Failure to do so is a violation of law and gives you the right to sue the 3PDC. Telephone calls    especially outgoing telephone calls    are much harder to document that the mini-Miranda has been given. The time between receipt of the first letter and receipt of the first call can be long (a week or more) or short (next day). Whatever it is    use that time to learn as much as you can about the laws and the particular 3PDC. How you handle the 3PDC will depend on whether the debt is still in Statute or not    how long before it is out of Statute.

Needless to say    if your debt is out of Statute you can play the 3PDC for all you want    and there is little he can do about it. The purpose of this would be to set him up for a FDCPA violation    then you can “zing” him with a suit. Let him rant and rave and make all sorts of veiled threats. Document everything    ask him to put all hat in writing. Just remember    he cannot successfully sue you. Whether he knows this or not is questionable – probably not    since he calls every state in the nation and he can’t know every state’s SOL laws. It is a certainty his employer hasn’t provided him with that information. Most collectors’ training consists of “here’s your desk    here’s your phone    here’s your computer    now go collect the money.”

If you are near (within 3 to 6 months) of SOL    then by all means send the 3PDC a “Validation Letter” to stall for time. Also    include a limited Cease Communication letter    requiring Cease-Comm for all communications except by mail. Under FDCPA they are forbidden to dun you while the Validation Letter is unanswered. The Cease-Comm letter makes any communication with you other than by mail a FDCPA violation    actionable in Court. If they call    just remind them that there is a Validation Letter outstanding and unanswered. Also be sure to remind them of the limited Cease-Comm letter and that this telephone call is an actionable violation. If they persist in asking for money    remind them that FDCPA imposes on them the requirement to validate the debt to you upon request    which you have made. Then ask them when they will be sending you your $1000 Statutory Damages for the FDCPA violation in ignoring the limited Case-Comm letter.

If the debt is nowhere near the SOL    then you must take a more defensive stance. By now you should have read the section on “Judgement proofing” yourself and have followed as many of those suggestions as are practical. By hiding assets that the creditor can attach    you are making yourself look like a more difficult case to actually collect from. 3PDC’s are paid commission    so they tend to concentrate on the bigger dollar cases (more commissions to collect) and the easier cases – the ones they can scare into fast payment in full quick commissions). The harder cases – both harder to actually contact    and the ones with no known assets or income to attach    with the smaller balances and who don’t scare easily    are a 3PDC’s nightmare and end to get somewhat less attention than the easier cases. This doesn’t mean they won’t work I    but when they do you will have to convince them that there’s nothing in your pot for them to get.
What Motivates the 3PDC
Since most 3PDC’s are paid by commission    they are obviously motivated by the “quick kill” – a debtor they can scare the pants off who will immediately go out and do whatever the 3PDC wants to make the 3PDC go away. This is the Collector’s dream – a quick    easy commission. There are people just like that. I hope    by now    you are not one of them. A second motivation is the psychological one – a motivation that is so contrary to our psyche that it explains the high employee turnover in the Collection industry. That motivation is the desire to get others to do what the Collector wants them to do – regardless of the hardship it places on the other person. I call this “anti-mercy”. A successful collector relishes the “satisfaction” of scaring a debtor witless. I have heard many 3PDC’s joke and boast about how much they scared a debtor    showing off the money sent by western Union or Courier like one would show off a Super Bowl Ring.

Many 3PDC’s encourage this mentality by rewarding and promoting the most “productive” collectors. Production    of course    measured by commissions    measured by dollars collected. The human cost of this activity is ignored. Competition among the collectors within a company is encouraged. The most common cutoff time is the end of the month    so many collectors get even more aggressive in the second half of the month. This competitiveness is a breeding ground for FDCPA violations    so be especially aware of the potential for violations in the second half of the month.

Tools of the 3PDC

The 3PDC relies on YOU to collect his debt. Strange as it seems    it is YOUR fears    YOUR fantasies    YOUR misinformation and YOUR partial understanding of the truth that empowers the 3PDC    and each of these is a weapon to be used against you. By carefully stating half-truths and letting your imagination run away    the 3PDC can bend your mind so that it sees what truths the 3PDC wants it to see    and pictures a future that the 3PDC wishes was the truth    but you believe it to be truth.

Let’s explore a couple of common half-truths    and see where the 3PDC wants your mind to wander.

1: “If you don’t pay $X now    we will take Legal Action.” Sound familiar? That’s the most common threat – Legal Action. Did the 3PDC say “Sue”? No    he said “Legal Action”. Just what IS “Legal Action”? Simple - it’s any action that is not ILLEGAL. So    all he said was “we will do something the law allows us to do.” That could be any or all of the following: Send another letter    make another phone call    discuss it with the collector at the next desk    discuss it with the Collector’s supervisor    do nothing at all    move on to the next debtor    go out for lunch    do a crossword puzzle….. you get the idea now. In part with this threat is to turn it over to the “Legal Department” (as opposed to the ILLEGAL Department).

2: “Your Credit will be trash if you don’t pay $X now.” Let’s get real – if you are talking with a 3PDC    the account has already been charged off and whatever damage they can do to your credit has already been done. No amount you can pay right now will un-do that    and the 3PDC will resist you tooth and nail in your efforts to trade payment for Trade Line removal. The reason (they will tell you) is that they are required to report it. That is half of the truth. The truth is IF they report it    they are required to report it ACCURATELY. There is no law requiring any lender to report to any credit bureau.

3: “Paying this bill will help your credit”. Saying that is like telling the passengers on the Titanic that    while the Ocean underneath them is 10   000 feet deep    if they just swim 100 yards away the ocean is only 9800 feet deep. The boat sank anyway and they drowned. The depth of the ocean meant nothing at THAT depth. Same thing with your Credit Report. A Paid Charge Off is better than an UNPAID Charge Off    but not enough to convince a lender to approve a loan. Time is what heals this wound    not payment.

4: “Are you going to pay this debt or not. I need an answer right now.” A similar statement is “we must reach resolution on this account now.” The only problem is – if you knew how you were going to pay    wouldn’t you already be doing it? Obviously    you cannot “resolve” the matter on HIS timetable. He will twist any statement other than a promise to pay immediately into “So you refuse to pay this debt.” To this kind of aggressiveness I would merely say something like “I will know how I will resolve this and other matters when I can see a comprehensive resolution” and stick to it.

I will not get into the personal attacks the 3PDC will launch against you – statements like “What kind of example are you giving your children – you’re not mature enough to pay your bills” or “If you had any self-respect you would honor your obligations”. To these stupid statements you need not remain civil.

The 3PDC will keep you on the phone until he wears down your resistance. The longer you are on the phone    the more time he has to launch every psychological attack against you he can until he finds your “hot button”. Don’t let him. Stay on the phone no more than 3 minutes unless you see REAL progress being made (progress meaning helping you reach a resolution you can live with).

« Last Edit: November 16, 2005 05:06:28 PM by flyingifr »
BTW-the Flyingifr Method does work. (quoted from Hannah on Infinite Credit, September 19, 2006)

I think of a telephone as a Debt Collector's crowbar. With such a device it is possible to pry one's mouth open wide enough to allow the insertion of a foot or two.

Debtors Exams are the perfect place for us Senior Citizens to show off our recently acquired Alzheimers.

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CreditFighter

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2007 04:39:30 AM »
Collection Agencies and Original Creditors make strange bedfellows...

Sorry...saw this picture on the web and couldn't help using it somewhere   :)
« Last Edit: March 03, 2007 04:42:59 AM by CreditFighter »
CA's that have settled:  7
Settlement funds received (FDCPA):  $8500.00  (TCPA):  $9500.00
Negative TL's removed:  4
Amount of money paid on my alleged debts by CA's: $7324.00
Intent to Sue letters currently outstanding: 0
Cleaning my credit at the expense of dirty, violating CA's:  Priceless

Rottweiler

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2007 04:53:58 PM »
To summarize one of Flying's main points: 

Collection Agents are salespeople.

That's right:  The "phone drone" at your unfriendly far-from-localCA/JDB is no more truthful than the guy at "Joe's Used Car Emporium" or "Jane Doe, Telemarketer".  They are hired by the CA's bosses/owner to provide a service to the creditor/clients and are paid a commission  for every debtor they "sell" on the idea of paying them money in return for nothing but a lousy credit rating and getting rid of the "drone"! (until they get another file in your name...the legendary "'s List" may well exist...)

In other words, they, the agency and the agency clients usually don't get paid...until you pay them.  (JDBs can sell the account and get something back...but the collection agent won't get paid if they don't collect.) Since the average collection agent is reportedly deeper in debt than the debtors behind most of their "accounts" are, they are rather "eager" to get the funds. Their bosses, who provided the lack of competent training--and the collection files to the agents to "work--also need the money since most of their "accounts" never pay off--the average percentage of collection accounts that do pay the bill is in the 25%-30% range for "fresher" accounts, and less for "aged" accounts (over 6 months in collections?).
“This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice."
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Rottweiler

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2007 05:23:31 PM »
Collection Agencies and Original Creditors make strange bedfellows...

Sorry...saw this picture on the web and couldn't help using it somewhere   :) [ Attachment did not quote...see above. ]

Uh..."interesting" attachment. ::)

Not really appropriate for a consumer credit and collections board, though  :(  .  Now, if this were a collectors' board (our usual nemesis will remain unnamed here!)...;D
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arnanda

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010 10:02:19 PM »
i would take "legal action", "further action" & "immediate action" to mean a lawsuit.  Per Dimaggio he states "the courts in these cases have held that the least sophisticated consumer will interpret 'further action' or 'immediate action' to mean lawsuit.  These phrases imply the imminence of a lawsuit." ....he goes on to explain that if no lawsuit is filed within a reasonable amount of time then the CA stated an action they never intended to take.  Dimaggio states these cases as proof: Bently v Great Lakes Collections Bureau ; Pipiles v Credit Bureau of Lockport, Inc ..... Tsense v Tran-Continental Credit ad Collection Corp. 

.....however i would appreciate your feedback regarding this situation.  to me i find those phrases to be false & misleading which violates section 1692e. 
TUN - 811/850 (07-07-2015). EQU - 811/850 (07-07-2015). EXP - 8111/850 (07-10-2015).
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CleaningUp

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010 10:32:18 PM »
False and misleading they may be.  But...

The onus will be on you to convince the court that they were.

That is not as easy as a simply saying: "(I)find those phrases to be false & misleading." Lower/Local courts tend not to understand the least sophisticated consumer standard.



whatamess

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010 09:34:09 AM »
<<<Note - this is NOT a discussion of what is legal and what is not legal    it is a discussion of how a Collector THINKS. Knowing how they think helps a debtor deal with them.>>>

By now you should have read the section on Judgement proofing yourself and have followed as many of those suggestions as are practical. By hiding assets that the creditor can attach    you are making yourself look like a more difficult case to actually collect from. 3PDC’s are paid commission    so they tend to concentrate on the bigger dollar cases (more commissions to collect) and the easier cases – the ones they can scare into fast payment in full quick commissions). The harder cases – both harder to actually contact    and the ones with no known assets or income to attach    with the smaller balances and who don’t scare easily    are a 3PDC’s nightmare and end to get somewhat less attention than the easier cases.

After reading this thread, I think I feel a little better, but I could really use some help asap!
Unfortunately, I didn't see this coming, don't know the ins and outs, but am reading on this great site as quickly as I can. I understand a lot of what you are saying but need a little clarification.
Here is a little background info.
Unfortunately, I started a couple of businesses with someone I thought was an honorable long time friend. I learned the hard way that he is aggressive and a lot of talk and I too passive and non confrontational, so he pretty much excluded me from the business after we had opened the bank accounts. When I discovered he was advancing a lot of funds off the overdraft protection cards I closed the accounts and tried to part ways. He paid min. payments on the accts for a while, but has disappeared and stopped paying about 3 mos. ago. Unfortunately, I used everything I had to keep my investment property out of foreclosure last year when my buyer defaulted and on top of that I lost my job. So, I don't have the funds/income to make his payments. Even with my job I couldn't have:-(
Wells Fargo sent me the "we are sending it to a lawyer on the 11th to get a money judgement" letter and I'm really upset, because I have a personal house and an investment property that I put a ton of blood, sweat, tears, stress and $ for attny and materials into this last year. There is also a lot of equity in it.
• If I deed or quitclaim the houses into someone else's name will it be considered fraud or can they undo it?
   Someone told me today that they can undo anything I've done in the last year.
• Does anyone have a feel for WF patterns? This is a Bus. Credit Card $4,800 and the rep told me the charge off date would be 12/6.
   There is also a personal CC and a LOC. I can't deal with one person because they are all separate departments, but the others don't
   seem to be reacting as strongly & quickly.
• Is it more likely they'll really just send it to collections?
• Any guesses on how long it might be before they attempt a judgement if they see I have or had these assets recently?
I talked to a BK attny and he feels they would take over my Land Sales Contract on the investment and accept the first low ball bid to take over the contract that would be enough for them and leave nothing for me:-(

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I have a son to provide for and that property provides some monthly income beside the equity that is tied up in it.
Thank You in advance for any info!!

kevinmanheim

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2010 01:35:27 PM »
You should start a separate thread on this subject, as it will get more attention and replies than it will in this one.

You should take the advice the BK attorney gave you, in my opinion. It's good advice.

duke731

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014 03:04:31 PM »
SOL applies to the state in which you live at the time not where you lived when the debt was incurred or where the 3PDC is located.

Great Post!

But I'm unclear on what the above quote actually means. So, let's say for example, I currently live in CA but incurred the debt while I was living in AZ. Does the SOL apply to my current state CA?

Can you or someone please elaborate?

Thanks
Learning a little more each day

Bruno the JDB Killer

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014 03:37:25 PM »
They have to sue you where you live, so your home state SOL would apply. However; if you moved there recently to try to take advantage of a shorter SOL, they could hold you to the original state's SOL. There is usually a residency requirement of a year or so before you can benefit from the new SOL.
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freedy

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Re: Understanding Collection Agencies
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2014 03:49:01 PM »
Relax, your months away from being sued. Get a copy of your credit card agreements . Lots of help around here.

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