Collector - March 2020 - 23

consumer that the call (and in the future,
an SMS) is spam. In addition, it is easy for
consumers to designate email messages as
spam, and to block numbers from sending
unwanted media. We do need strong
regulation in place for SMS, and all senders
should be required to include an easy way
to opt out. These channels are undeniably
less intrusive than phone calls and are
beneficial to consumers, not detrimental."
Phone carriers may provide the biggest
challenge to collectors' long-term use of
text messaging. They self-police message
content being delivered to consumers and
establish which businesses have access to
short codes necessary for texting.
This year, the carriers are expected to
issue a code of conduct aimed at preventing
spam messages from reaching consumers
by text, according to Cantrell.
"Regardless of the CFPB rules, the
phone carriers control the SMS gateways,"
Cantrell said. "The carriers define the rules
to turn on a shortcode and they continue to
closely monitor the message content. The
auditing of these gateways by the carriers
is constant and subject to change, and
the potential adjustments by the industry
represent the greatest ongoing challenge."

THE ROAD FORWARD
With any method of communication,
responsible use is essential. Collection
agencies and consumers are already
beginning to experience the benefits of
communicating by text. However, the road
ahead is not without some speed bumps
as the industry moves from crawling to
walking and, eventually, running.
"The new world agencies will grapple with
is how to perform and optimize true omnichannel collections-the ability to collect using
all available channels and control contacts and
engagement activities in a seamless, frictionless
way," Fite said. "Everything needs to be
interoperative and real time. This includes not

COLLECTOR 03.20

"There are a couple
cases where we think
SMS could be useful,
mainly where our
models predict that a
text message would be
more effective than say,
sending an email, and
as a value-added service
to consumers, such as
payment reminder."

1
just sending text messages, but also things like
two-way texting, pay-by-text, email and selfserve portals."
Restraining agencies' ability to
responsibly use texting would be a shame,
as it is already proving to be a useful tool,
effective for collectors and consumers alike.
"For any communication channel we
want to use as a collective group, it's on
us to make sure we do it in a way that's a
benefit to the consumer, not a detriment,"
Monroe said. "If any channel we seek
to use starts to feel abusive, whether it
is too frequent, too threatening or too
much of an interruption to consumers,
it ceases to be something that helps
solve a problem. It's on us to make sure
these channels can stay viable options by
not abusing them."
Tim Dressen is a communications consultant
and former editor of Collector magazine.

While awaiting finalized
rules from the CFPB,
some agencies are already
communicating with
agencies via text message.

2

Compliance is key
to a successful
texting program, and
following well-established
procedures is at the heart
of compliance.

3

Pushback from
regulators or the
phone carriers could
hamper greater adoption
of texting by collection
agencies, so responsible
use is paramount.

23



Collector - March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Collector - March 2020

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Collector - March 2020 - Cover2
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