Deal with People
Bill and account collectors try to recover payment on overdue bills. They negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier.Duties
Bill and account collectors typically do the following:
Bill and account collectors generally contact debtors by phone, although sometimes they do so by mail. They use computer systems to update contact information and record past collection attempts with a particular debtor. Keeping these records can help collectors with future negotiations.
The main job of bill and account collectors is finding a solution that is acceptable to the debtor and maximizes payment to the creditor. Listening to the debtor and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a solution.
After the collector and debtor agree on a repayment plan, the collector continually checks to ensure that the debtor pays on time. If the debtor does not pay, the collector submits a statement to the creditor, who can take legal action. In extreme cases, this legal action may include taking back goods or disconnecting service.
Collectors must follow federal and state laws that govern debt collection. These laws require that collectors make sure they are talking with the debtor before announcing that the purpose of the call is to collect a debt. A collector also must give a statement, called “mini-Miranda,” which informs the account holder that they are speaking with a bill or debt collector.
Although many collectors work for third-party collection agencies, some work in-house for the original creditor, such as a credit-card company or a health care provider. The day-to-day activities of in-house collectors are generally the same as those of other collectors.
Collectors usually have goals they are expected to meet. Typically, these include calls per hour and success rates.
Collectors usually must have a high school diploma. A few months of on-the-job training is common.Education
Most bill and account collectors are required to have a high school diploma, although some employers prefer applicants who have taken some college courses. Communication, accounting, and basic computer courses are examples of classes that are helpful for entering this occupation.Training
Collectors usually get 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training after being hired. Training includes learning the company’s policies and computer software and learning the laws for debt collection in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as well as their state’s debt-collection regulations. Collectors also may be trained in negotiation techniques.Important Qualities
Listening skills. Collectors must pay attention to what debtors say when trying to negotiate a repayment plan. Learning the particular situation of the debtors and how they fell into debt can help collectors suggest solutions.
Negotiating skills. The main aspects of a collector’s job are reconciling the differences between two parties (the debtor and the creditor) and offering a solution that is acceptable to both parties.
Speaking skills. Collectors must be able to speak to debtors to explain their choices and ensure that they fully understand what is being said.
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