Collector – August 2019 - 14
Communicating with consumers during a natural disaster.
By Angela Czerlanis
ven as a lifelong Midwesterner,
I thought The Wizard of Oz was
terrifying and I've never enjoyed the
tradition of running for the front porch
with a camera before seeking shelter in a
storm. I had an emergency "go-bag" long
before they were a thing.
Do you know what's in your agency's
"go-bag" when preparing for a natural
disaster? Natural disasters not only interrupt
consumer communications, but they also
impact community well-being. Depending
on the disaster, your collection efforts may
need to be modified or temporarily halted.
Review your company's disaster response
and communication plan. If your company
doesn't have a plan, rally the team and
Employees should have current
emergency contact information on file.
Make sure your emergency contact(s)
know your office's physical address and major
cross streets. If phone service fails and you
can't pin your location, your loved ones will
know where to find you.
Find out who to contact if you can't come
to work or if you should go to work after
a natural disaster or other emergency that
impacts your location.
In terms of agency operations, keep track
of regions that have lost phone or mail service.
Collectors may be instructed not to dial
telephone numbers that fall within affected
area codes or block autodialers from dialing
such numbers until further notice. The U.S.
Postal Service posts a list of areas on its website
where mail is suspended due to a natural
disaster. Delivery interruptions will affect when
consumers receive validation notices.
Keep in mind, the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act does not require proof of
receipt when sending notices to consumers.
If the notice is returned to the debt
collector as undeliverable, the debt collector
is put on notice the consumer did not
receive the letter.
Debt collectors should work with their
clients to determine how to service
consumers faced with natural disasters.
Having a plan before a natural disaster
strikes is the best strategy. Policies and
procedures should prevent inconveniencing
and harassing consumers during that
difficult period. Other types of disaster
assistance include placing the account on
a hold status, temporarily halting accruing
fees or interest, refraining from credit
reporting new accounts, or arranging for
flexible payment plans.
If you reach a consumer affected by a
natural disaster, proceed with compassion.
Temporary loss of power or phone service
is inconvenient, but sudden injuries,
unemployment or homelessness are
financially and emotionally devastating.
Document the circumstances in the
account notes. Update contact information
as accurately as possible with the
temporary housing address and a working
Remember that under the FDCPA, debt
collectors cannot call consumers at times
known to be inconvenient. For consumers
dealing with the impact of a natural
disaster, such a time would be a known
It's easy to take day-to-day business
for granted under blue skies. To make
sure collectors, clients and consumers are
cared for in the aftermath of a natural
disaster, get your go-bag of policies and
Angela Czerlanis is ACA International's
compliance education specialist.
Collector – August 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector – August 2019
How a background in making people laugh has helped Roger Weiss, ACA’s new president, educate and engage an industry.
No Good Option
“You’ve got to be a compliance cheerleader for the organization, and that takes a lot of energy.”
Protecting Health Care Data
Collector – August 2019 - Cover1
Collector – August 2019 - Cover2
Collector – August 2019 - 1
Collector – August 2019 - 2
Collector – August 2019 - 3
Collector – August 2019 - 4
Collector – August 2019 - President’s Page
Collector – August 2019 - Industry News
Collector – August 2019 - 7
Collector – August 2019 - 8
Collector – August 2019 - 9
Collector – August 2019 - Best Practices
Collector – August 2019 - 11
Collector – August 2019 - FYI
Collector – August 2019 - 13
Collector – August 2019 - Collection Tips
Collector – August 2019 - 15
Collector – August 2019 - How a background in making people laugh has helped Roger Weiss, ACA’s new president, educate and engage an industry.
Collector – August 2019 - 17
Collector – August 2019 - 18
Collector – August 2019 - 19
Collector – August 2019 - 20
Collector – August 2019 - 21
Collector – August 2019 - 22
Collector – August 2019 - 23
Collector – August 2019 - No Good Option
Collector – August 2019 - 25
Collector – August 2019 - 26
Collector – August 2019 - “You’ve got to be a compliance cheerleader for the organization, and that takes a lot of energy.”
Collector – August 2019 - 28
Collector – August 2019 - 29
Collector – August 2019 - Protecting Health Care Data
Collector – August 2019 - 31
Collector – August 2019 - 32
Collector – August 2019 - 33
Collector – August 2019 - Calendar
Collector – August 2019 - Honor Roll
Collector – August 2019 - Education Spotlight
Collector – August 2019 - 37
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Collector – August 2019 - ACA SearchPoint
Collector – August 2019 - Ad Index
Collector – August 2019 - Membership
Collector – August 2019 - 51
Collector – August 2019 - Last Word
Collector – August 2019 - Cover3
Collector – August 2019 - Cover4