Collector - March 2018 - 14

COLLECTIONTIPS

Connect the Dots
How to decipher what a consumer is actually trying to say.
By Anne Rosso May

P

eople don't always say what they
mean. This is often not because
they are trying to be tricky
or malicious-it's just part of human
nature. We've all told little white lies to
avoid an unpleasant situation or to spare
someone's feelings. In fact, a psychology
study published last year found that
compassionate people are actually more
likely to tell white lies than others.
When you talk to consumers about
an unpaid debt, you will likely speak to
someone who contradicts the information
you are telling them. These people are either
confused, embarrassed or panicked, and it
can be difficult to discern which is which
and how to proceed. For instance, if the
consumer says, "I don't know what this is
about. I was never at that hospital," how can
you get to the truth?
First, be compassionate and give the
consumer the benefit of the doubt. You could
try saying, "I'm sorry. This is for Wildwood
Health System in Redwood. Do you
remember being at that hospital?"
If the consumer genuinely forgot receiving
medical care-and somehow never received
the hospital's bills-that might help remind
her. If the consumer was just pretending
not to remember out of embarrassment,
now you've given her an opportunity to
"remember" while saving face.
Sometimes consumers are in tough
financial situations and getting calls from
multiple collection agencies. This is often
when the white lies come out simply
because consumers can't afford to pay all
their debts in full and are embarrassed to
admit it or are hoping to create confusion
and delay payment.
If the consumer tells you he has already
paid the bill, you might say something
like, "Not a problem. Why don't you

14

check with your wife to make sure she
sent it? This is the bill for Wildwood
Health System for $350. If she didn't
send it yet, it's OK-we can take care
of it today. And if you need to set up a
payment plan, we can do that now."
Giving consumers a second party to
blame the miscommunication on-in
this scenario, the consumer's wife-lets
them off the hook so you can talk about
payment. And letting them know that
you are open to a payment plan relieves
them of the stress of paying in full right
that minute. Before using this strategy,
remember to check with your agency's
or client's policy on at what point in the
conversation you can offer a payment plan.
If consumers really did mail you a
check, they will be able to give you the
check number and dollar amount-but if
they've lied about it, backing them into
a corner by demanding that information

only makes them feel flustered and
desperate.
Showing this kindness-letting
consumers out of their lie without calling
them out on it-is part of providing good
customer service. It's also good for your
own sense of personal fulfillment as it's not
fun to accuse people of lying all day.
However, you do need to be able to
distinguish a stall from a dispute. If the
consumer believes he doesn't rightfully
owe the debt, that dispute triggers both
Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act requirements
for specific actions. Follow your agency's
policies and procedures on how to
handle disputes.
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector
magazine. Special thanks to Kenlyn Gretz,
president and CEO of Americollect Inc., for
contributing to this article.

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - March 2018

From the Editor
Industry News
Best Practices
FYI
Collection Tips
Enriching the Diversity Conversation
A New Take on Skiptracing
Collecting From Different Generations
Calendar
Honor Roll
Are You an ACA Professional Collection Specialist?
Understanding the Credit Reporting Landscape
An Inside Look at ACA’s Judicial Advocacy Efforts
Break It Down
ACA Files Amicus Brief with Court of Appeals in Case Combatting TCPA Abuse
Compliance
ACA SearchPoint
Last Word
Collector - March 2018 - Cover1
Collector - March 2018 - Cover2
Collector - March 2018 - 1
Collector - March 2018 - 2
Collector - March 2018 - 3
Collector - March 2018 - From the Editor
Collector - March 2018 - 5
Collector - March 2018 - Industry News
Collector - March 2018 - 7
Collector - March 2018 - 8
Collector - March 2018 - 9
Collector - March 2018 - Best Practices
Collector - March 2018 - 11
Collector - March 2018 - FYI
Collector - March 2018 - 13
Collector - March 2018 - Collection Tips
Collector - March 2018 - 15
Collector - March 2018 - Enriching the Diversity Conversation
Collector - March 2018 - 17
Collector - March 2018 - 18
Collector - March 2018 - 19
Collector - March 2018 - 20
Collector - March 2018 - 21
Collector - March 2018 - 22
Collector - March 2018 - 23
Collector - March 2018 - A New Take on Skiptracing
Collector - March 2018 - 25
Collector - March 2018 - 26
Collector - March 2018 - 27
Collector - March 2018 - Collecting From Different Generations
Collector - March 2018 - 29
Collector - March 2018 - 30
Collector - March 2018 - 31
Collector - March 2018 - Calendar
Collector - March 2018 - Honor Roll
Collector - March 2018 - Are You an ACA Professional Collection Specialist?
Collector - March 2018 - 35
Collector - March 2018 - Understanding the Credit Reporting Landscape
Collector - March 2018 - 37
Collector - March 2018 - An Inside Look at ACA’s Judicial Advocacy Efforts
Collector - March 2018 - 39
Collector - March 2018 - Break It Down
Collector - March 2018 - 41
Collector - March 2018 - ACA Files Amicus Brief with Court of Appeals in Case Combatting TCPA Abuse
Collector - March 2018 - 43
Collector - March 2018 - Compliance
Collector - March 2018 - 45
Collector - March 2018 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector - March 2018 - 47
Collector - March 2018 - Last Word
Collector - March 2018 - Cover3
Collector - March 2018 - Cover4
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