Collector - May 2018 - 16
Should You Bend
What to do when a consumer asks
you to go against your agency's
policies and procedures.
By Anne Rosso May
s a debt collector, you have a lot
of rules to follow, including when
and where you can call consumers
and what you can say when you get the right
person on the phone.
A debt collection agency's policies and
procedures are rooted in state and federal
laws designed to protect the consumer, so
it can be confusing when a consumer asks
you to do something that breaks the rules.
If that's what the consumer wants, shouldn't
you accommodate the request?
The answer, of course, is no. The law
is the law, even if you don't entirely
understand it. Your agency's policies are
written to be ethical and fair in the eyes of
the law, and the company is relying on you
to uphold those policies.
Let's say, for instance, you are talking
to a consumer who says, "OK, after I pay
this debt today I want you to take it off
This request may seem minor to you-it
might even make sense-but if it goes
against your agency's policies and procedures
you cannot comply with it.
While the Fair Credit Reporting Act and
Regulation V do require debt collectors
to delete information that is inaccurate or
unverifiable, they don't specifically address
the deletion of accurate information
from a consumer report, and your agency
has likely drafted a policy on this based
on a number of complicated factors.
Disregarding the rule could expose you and
your company to serious risks.
The key to navigating situations like this
is to be polite and tell consumers what you
can do for them. For instance, you might
say, "I'm very sorry. I'm not allowed to do
that under our company policy, but you are
more than welcome to dispute it through the
consumer reporting agency. I can give you
that contact information."
It's easier to politely decline a consumer's
request when you've worked to build a
good rapport with the consumer. Initial
phrases like, "How's your day going?" and
"I hope I'm not bothering you" can put the
consumer at ease.
If the consumer gets upset or frustrated,
don't take it personally. You might say, "I
understand your frustration, but please
understand that according to the law I'm
just not allowed to do this. I'm not going
to break the law." Then offer the consumer
a reasonable solution, and thank her for
Each consumer's situation is unique and
there may be times when your agency can
make minor accommodations. However,
rather than making the independent
decision to bend the rules, if you have
questions it's best to hand the call to a
supervisor who has the experience and
authority to do so.
Anne Rosso May is editor of Collector
magazine. Special thanks to Christina Rioux,
senior vice president of third-party
operations/CCO at Credit Solutions LLC,
for contributing to this article.