Collector - October 2017 - 9
THE TOP FIVE SUB-ISSUES IN DEBT COLLECTION
COMPLAINTS SUBMITTED TO THE CFPB IN FIRST SIX
MONTHS OF 2017:
As part of its complaint intake menu, BC
Services also asks consumers to list a desired
resolution to their problem. What do they
ultimately need or want? "Understanding their
specific concerns and asking them to tell us
what they are looking for allows us to better
assist them with resolution," Gauthier said.
Finally, it's helpful to ask consumers how
they would like you to follow-up with them.
"If they pick 'in writing,' we'll send them
a letter detailing our investigation, what
measures we took to review the account, what
we found and whether or not we are able to
meet their desired resolution," Gauthier said.
"If they pick 'phone,' we'll give them all that
same information over the phone."
TREAT THE DATA WITH CARE
After BC Services consumers click "send"
on their complaint, they get a pop-up
thank-you message confirming that it has
been received. On the back end, the system
DEBT IS NOT YOURS.
DIDN'T RECEIVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO VERIFY DEBT.
DEBT WAS PAID.
ATTEMPTED TO COLLECT WRONG AMOUNT.
DEBT WAS RESULT OF IDENTITY THEFT.
automatically generates a detailed email
with all the consumer-supplied information
on the complaint, which is sent straight to
the company's compliance team.
"Complaints are generally sensitive in
nature and sometimes consumers are upset,"
Gauthier noted. "We don't want something
like this to be handled on the floor by a
regular representative. We wanted someone
a little higher up and with more authority to
investigate the complaints and respond to
Whether or not you involve the client in
your complaint investigation depends on your
contracts and clients' preferences. Gauthier
said BC Services typically shares the details
of the complaint and the consumer's desired
resolution, and works with the client to see if
that resolution can be achieved or if there is a
happy medium for all parties.
Sometimes the consumer's desired
resolution is not one the company can meet,
like when consumers ask to have the account
closed and the balance erased when the
obligation is valid and owed. Other times
the desired resolution might be surprisingly
simple, which you wouldn't have known if
you hadn't asked.
"For the most part, when we reach out to
the consumer after the investigation, we let
them know what measures and steps we've
taken to investigate their concerns and what
we've found," Gauthier said. "A lot of times
I find that they are really just looking for
an answer to a question. Sometimes they
find the debt collection process confusing,
or they don't really understand what the
charges on their account are for. And once
you give them a detailed response to their
question, it really helps them out a lot."
The CFPB promises consumers a response
to their complaint within 15 days, but
Gauthier said it was important to him that
BC Services do better.
"Our response times are very quick on
these," he noted. "We usually get back to the
consumers within five to 10 days. "
If you make it easy for consumers to send
you their complaints, won't that just
increase the number of complaints you
receive? Maybe. But consider this: Every
complaint submitted to your company
directly just might prevent consumers from
sharing their frustration with the CFPB or
other regulatory bodies.
Gauthier said since BC Services launched
its complaint portal in 2016, it has seen a
downward trend in complaints lodged against
the company through regulatory agencies.
"Complaints are hard to avoid completely,
but we feel good about how we're helping
consumers," he said. "If consumers have a
concern that they want addressed, and if we
can directly handle those concerns through
our office rather than through a regulatory
agency, I think it benefits both the consumer
and our business as a whole."
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector