Collector - March 2020 - 12

BESTPRACTICES

Face to Face
Despite the explosion of payment technologies, some ACA member
companies still get requests from consumers to make
in-person payments. Here's how they handle it.
By Anne Rosso May

O

nline payment portals and IVR
phone systems may be blowing up
the payment processing space right
now, but face-to-face payments remain a
part of some agencies' realities.
In 2017, the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corp. reported that approximately 6% of U.S.
households were unbanked, which means
that no one in the household has a checking
or savings account. Why? More than half of
these consumers explained that they don't
have enough money to keep in an account
and 30% said they just don't trust banks.
Consumers who prefer to-or must-
pay their bills in cash are a big reason why
some accounts receivable management
companies with local clients still offer the
option for consumers to make payments in
person. General Collection Co. in Grand
Island, Nebraska, gets a steady stream of
walk-ins: about 100 each week, according to
Collection Supervisor Gail Schenck. Many of
the consumers have told staff that they need
to pay in person because they don't have
bank accounts.
"If we didn't have an open-door policy,
they wouldn't be able to make their
payments," Schenck said.
Making the payment process as frictionless
as possible typically centers the conversation
on electronic payments, but like it or not,
cash is still part of the market. Here's how
some ACA International member companies
keep the door open for consumers while
ensuring their facilities, data and employees
are secure.

ADDRESSING COMPLIANCE
CONCERNS
Accepting in-person payments is different
from conducting in-person collections; in
this article, we're talking about the former,

12

not the latter. Still, there are compliance
issues to keep in mind.
You'll want to draft policies on how your
company will handle all office visitors, which
can include consumers making a payment,
prospective clients doing a walk-through and
repair people on a service call.
Staff at your front desk should be trained
on data security laws, as well as other ARM
industry regulations, like the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act and state payment
processing laws. They'll need to know what to
do if the consumer walks in to dispute a debt
or complain about an issue, and they should
be trained on third-party disclosure concerns
under the FDCPA.
Jason Roozée, president of Rozlin Financial
Group Inc. in Sycamore, Illinois, said walk-ins
are no longer common at his company-as
best he recalls, he's only had one consumer
come to the office to make a payment in
the last four years. Still, his company has a
policy on guests, which covers greeting them,
supervising them and privacy protections. If a
consumer were to walk in to make a payment,
"all normal communication policies apply as if
it were a telephone conversation," Roozée said.
Credit Bureau Services Inc. in Fremont,
Nebraska, has a payment window just for
walk-ins, and Susan O'Brien, director of
human resources, said they get consumers
coming to the office every day. The company
has implemented "counter procedures" that
must be followed when consumers visit
the office, which include taking down the
consumer's first and last name; address;
employer; phone number; spouse's name and
employer; and reason for the visit.
This creates a log of the person's visit,
ensures the information on file is up-to-date
and helps staff confirm they are talking to
the correct person. Only after the consumer's

identity has been verified will they continue
a conversation about payment.
"If the consumer has someone with them
who is not responsible for the bill, we do
have them fill out a third-party disclosure
before we continue any discussion,"
O'Brien said.
Surveillance cameras and entry systems
for restricted areas can help prevent guests
from tampering with your systems or
stealing sensitive material.
Your policies should take into account
state laws that may be overlooked or under
heightened scrutiny during an in-person
interaction, such as providing a receipt
(mandatory in some states, but a best
practice in all) and prominently displaying
your agency's license.

SAFETY AND SECURITY
Workplace violence is an unfortunate
reality in our world today and debt
collection can be an emotional process.
Think about how you will protect your
employees. Some agencies have a secure
window as their public-facing option,
while others only allow consumers
to come to the front desk in a locked
waiting area. To avoid escalations, some
companies make it clear they will only
accept payments in their office-private
discussions about account details are

ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG


http://www.ACAINTERNATIONAL.ORG

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