Credit Management Services: 5 Additional Tips for Guaranteeing Recovery of Your Accounts Receivables

In our first installment of our Credit Management Services series, we discussed the importance of deploying successful debt collection techniques in order to help the creditor immediately settle their outstanding accounts receivables. In that article, we introduced you to Joy Paul, an in-house Collection Manger for TM Building Damage Restoration, the issues…

In our first installment of our Credit Management Services series, we discussed the importance of deploying successful debt collection techniques in order to help the creditor immediately settle their outstanding accounts receivables. In that article, we introduced you to Joy Paul, an in-house Collection Manager for TM Building Damage Restoration, the issues she faced when attempting to collect, and 7 of her Tips for Success to Guarantee Recovery 100% of Your Outstanding Receivables.

If you have not had a chance to read that previous article you can do so by CLICK HERE.

In Today’s post we are continuing on with Joy’s Tips for collection of Your Accounts Receivables.
Tip #8 – Make Copies Of All Checks Received

Joy posts all checks she receives utilizing QuickBooks. This goes along with what we’ve discussed earlier
– documenting everything!

Tip #9 – Attend A Collection Law Seminar.

Joy attended a collection law seminar. The course taught her, among other things, the need for a punch list (discrepancies) such as having to amend the roof, warranties, etc.

The course also studied and examined the Federal Fair Debt Practice Act (FFDPA). The FFDPA applies to all persons attempting to collect a debt. For example, there are things you can’t say and times you can’t call, for instance before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. You must disclose the nature of your call. The FFDCPA regulates all activities. For a complete synopsis of the FFDCPA, see
https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text

It is important to ascertain whether your claim is commercial or individual. Mostly, FDCPA laws don’t apply when collecting against businesses that owe money. For example, it is okay to email and send faxes if the claim is for a commercial debt.

Even though the FDCPA is designed for the consumer, you do want to comply with the FDCPA within reason. Common sense facets to consider are not to make false threats of lawsuits, don’t harass the debtor, and keep conversation clean and professional. The latter is much more effective than yelling and screaming, which are completely ineffective!

Use finesse and tact. For instance, state that “I know that your company wants to do the right thing” or “We are not set up as a bank or lending institution.”

Tip #10 – Demand Letters


(Click on the image for a larger view)

Accounts Receivables | Debt Collection Demand LetterFor problem accounts, Joy deploys six invoices or demand letters asking for immediate payment. Your goals are to get the debtor’s attention, avoid being ignored, avoid any misunderstandings, and to get paid-in-full promptly. Make it clear when the bill is to be paid, how much, any discounts or penalties applicable, and in some cases, the consequences for not paying. Below is format Joy utilizes in her “Final Demand Letter”.

Joy utilizes a 10-day Demand Letter. This would be the 6th letter or invoice. Allow debtor 10 business days to pay. An account over 90 days is considered past-due.

See example to the right:

Tip #11 – Work Authorizations/Written Agreements


(Click on the image for a larger view)

Accounts Receivables | Work Authorization FormThrough the use of a work authorization form or proposal, Joy is able to recover collection fees, attorney’s fees and interest should legal action be deemed necessary. The work authorization form serves as a contract and detailed verbiage is stated at the bottom of the form.

In your business, if there are predictable reasons why debtors think they don’t need to pay, acknowledge those reasons. If you don͛t persist and you won’t be paid. For example, Joy in her work authorization form states that if the insurance company doesn’t pay it’s the responsibility of the customer to pay.

See example to the right:

As you can see, all of the terms and conditions are spelled out on the contract, including the fact that if the insurance doesn’t pay, the company will be responsible to pay TM Building. The proposal is in case of an out of pocket cost or upgrade.

Tip #12 – Personal Guarantees

It is a good idea to obtain personal guarantees and credit applications. If a company is sold or goes out of business, the personal guarantor can be contacted at home and a demand can be made against him personally.

On corporate debts, if the guarantor signs the PG as John Smith, President; this voids the effect of the PG. In this case, he would be signing it only as an agent of the corporation. The same principle applies for signers of NSF checks.

If a company is sold, the new owners will be responsible if the product was purchased after the sale date. Prior to the sale date, the old owners are liable.

If a company changes names, procure a new credit application and personal guarantee. If this hasn’t been done, it is possible that a claim can be made against the successor company. The sale can be considered as a constructive merger if a pattern of continuity can be established. Examples would be same management, same employees and the same shareholders.

Disputes

Joy discovered that in many cases, the debtor manufactures a dispute because they don’t want to pay. Through experience, she is skillfully able to get the debtor to admit how much they owe net of credit, the amount not in dispute. Never let the debtor off the hook without that information.

An example would be a $3,500 claim, debtor disputes $500 and $3,000 is admitted. An appropriate question: “When can I count on your check of $3,000, Mr. Jones?” Force-feed the debtor. Close the deal and confirm in writing

Getting the Best Service from Your Commercial Debt Collection Firm

As you are no doubt are aware, there are many commercial debt collection firms available for you to choose from. While most of those companies are more than effective at recovering debt, it should be noted that each commercial debt collection firm usually focuses on a specific type of industry or size of the company…

As you are no doubt are aware, there are many commercial debt collection firms available for you to choose from. While most of those companies are more than effective at recovering debt, it should be noted that each commercial debt collection firm usually focuses on a specific type of industry or size of the company.

For instance, if you are owed money from a small business, you would want to talk to a commercial debt collection firm that specializes in debt collection recovery from small business owners. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a Fortune 500 corporation owing your company a substantial amount of debt, then a commercial debt collection firm that has experience and legal know-how to work with large, powerful corporations is ultimately necessary.

Professionalism is key when choosing the right Commercial Debt Collection Firm for your needs.

The commercial collections industry is replete with stories of commercial debt recovery gone horribly wrong due to unscrupulous collection efforts and shifty agents working on behalf of the company. By attempting to collect your outstanding debt using unprofessional techniques, you will more than likely not only fail at recovering the debt but could very well damage your business͛ reputation along the way.

Make sure you choose a commercial debt collection firm that is highly professional, knows and abides by the laws regarding debt recovery – especially in international debt recovery situations –and handles themselves correctly when attempting to recover a debt, particularly in sensitive situations.

The right commercial debt collection company knows how to recover your outstanding debt in a professional manner, causing minimal ripples along the way, while keeping your reputation intact.

The Collection Professional: Your Debt Collection Teammate

Quick turnover of delinquent accounts is essential to you as a business owner. When working with a commercial collections agency, viewing your collection professional as a member of your “debt collection team” will prove to be an integral part in accomplishing this goal…

Quick turnover of delinquent accounts is essential to you as a business owner. When working with a commercial collections agency, viewing your collection professional as a member of your “debt collection team” will prove to be an integral part in accomplishing this goal.

As anyone who has participated in any kind of team-related efforts can attest, working together ie essential to your success. By providing your collection professional with a well-documented collections file, you will help them avoid any time-consuming efforts that are associated with gathering the information they need for collections purposes. Many of the necessary documents your collection professional will need have most likely already been collected by you and are already in your client͛s files.

Having previously placed a file for collections, you no doubt have most, if not all of the necessary documents available to you. These documents will ͚arm͟ your collection professional giving them the necessary ammunition to communicate and demand the outstanding debts and receivables from your debtor. Such information would include name, phone number, address, legal identity, etc. Sharing this information with your collection professional helps breed the spirit of teamwork between you.

Proper documentation given to your collections professional at the beginning of your working relationship will allow the collection professional to handle the claim on your behalf, as well as aid in the expediting of the collection process, and provide you with solid legal footing in the process.

Your collection professional knows that good documentation is essential in your efforts and working in tandem with them by providing them with this information at the beginning can very well speed up the debt collection process.

The following is a checklist of documents that will assist your collection professional:
Credit application (or equivalent). This is often the most crucial document as it usually contains:

Debtor’s full name
Debtor’s physical address
Debtor’s legal identity (i.e., corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor.).
Nature of debtor͛s business
Trade references Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Note: Always obtain a Social Security Number of an individual who is personally obligated for your debt

Promissory Note. Though not usually part of the typical goods transaction, having one on hand to be filled out by the debtor is a good practice to engage in when your forbearance of the collection process and a payment plan is requested by the debtor.

Name, Physical Address, and Phone Numbers of any cosigners, guarantors, or companies and/or persons liable.
Principal and Interest after credits Statements
Documentation, handwritten or electronic, of any and all contacts and collection efforts made.
Any Contracts
Purchase Orders
Delivery Receipts
Copies of Non-sufficient Funds (NSF) Checks, notices regarding NSFs required by State Statutes, Or Notices under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
Payment Arrangement Confirmations
Security Documents, Agreements, and Legal Notices
Credit Reports, Annual Reports, and/or Financial Statements.
Photocopies of debtor͛s checks (cleared)
Note: You should make it a practice to occasionally make a copy of any checks paid on accounts, especially new accounts.

Notices of Bankruptcy, including bankruptcy of any guarantors or other companies or persons liable for the debt.

Not every document listed above is essential to assist your collection professional in the debt collection process. However, using the above list of documents as a guide in developing your customer files, will assist you should the debt collection process ever become a reality and make you a clutch player for your debt collection team.

Debt Collection Laws – What You Should Know

With millions of Americans in debt, debt collection has become a booming industry. In 2004 alone, the debt collection industry made over $16.5 billion in profit. With so much money on the line, debt collection agencies are under a lot of pressure…

With millions of Americans in debt, debt collection has become a booming industry. In 2004 alone, the debt collection industry made over $16.5 billion in profit. With so much money on the line, debt collection agencies are under a lot of pressure. In some cases, this pressure has resulted in abusive and often aggressive behavior leaving many debtors feeling intimidated

In order to protect debtors from this type of aggressive behavior, the United States Congress passed several debt collection laws to help keep debt collectors and debt collection agencies in check. The debt collection laws make sure that the growth of the debt collection agency is coupled with the values of good service and integrity.

The primary debt collection law is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1977. FDCPA specifies the best practices in which debt collectors must conduct themselves, placing measures prohibiting debt collectors from engaging in certain activities. Some of these measures include the following:

  • Violations of your privacy – Debt collectors can only talk to other people for the purpose of finding your current location. They are not allowed to disclose any information regarding an outstanding or the terms of the debt collection process.
  • Unfair calls or visits – According to debt collection laws, especially the FDCPA, debt collectors are not allowed to appear at your doorstep whenever they want to. They are only allowed to call or visit between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm. Debt collectors are also prohibited from appearing at your workplace, especially if you have previously informed them that you are against such visits.
  • False Representation – The debt collector cannot intimidate you with false authority; they cannot say that they are a lawyer or lawfirm if they are not. The debt collector cannot inform you that they have the power to personally repossess your things. They also cannot present documents that give the appearance their actions are directed by the US or State Governments.

However, the FDCPA is not the only law that is related to debt collection. Individual states usually have their own debt collection laws that are imposed to provide protection for their residents. For example: in California, debt collection laws require the debtor to keep written records of communications and transactions with the debt collector.

On the other hand, in Pennsylvania the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act was passed helping protect debtors from the deceptive behaviors of debt collectors. This act supports the FDCPA and it states that debt collectors CANNOT falsely imply that your inability to pay your debt is a crime. The debt collection laws of Pennsylvania also detail that debt collectors are not allowed to issue false threats of legal action.

All of these debt collection laws at both the Federal and State levels, have one thing in common: they help protect debtors from being abused by eager debt collectors.

Do you have a question about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or debt collection laws in your state? Feel free to contact the Stevens-Lloyd Group, Inc today.

Understanding Fair Debt Collection

The words debt collection bring a lot of panic and anxiety to individuals who are in debt. It may be your student loans, your mortgage on your house or your car payments. No matter what the debt may be, debt collection is something…

The words debt collection bring a lot of panic and anxiety to individuals who are in debt. It may be your student loans, your mortgage on your house or your car payments. No matter what the debt may be, debt collection is something that every debtor has to face. After all, your creditors and lenders need to get their money back.

So when you answer your phone and you encounter the representative of a debt collection agency, don’t panic. Remember that debt collection is an activity that is regulated by the law. The law ensures that debt collection is just an act to pursue you to make payments; it will not impede on your rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 details the rights that you have when it comes to debt collection.

Understanding Debt Collection

If you owe a certain amount of debt to a company, you usually pay the debt according to the contract that you signed. However, if you miss payments or you refuse to stick to the payment plan, the company may turn the debt over to a collection agency– this can also happen if you continually ignore notices from your lender. Simply put, debt collection happens when your creditor or lender feels that pursuing you for payments is already taking up too much of their resources.

Of course, the debt collector cannot simply pop up on your doorstep, demanding that you pay your debt. Typically, debt collection starts when a collector contacts you and notifies you of the status of your debt. The initial contact can happen through a lot of ways. It can be done through a letter, a fax, an email, or a typical phone call. In some cases, the debt collection process can start with a home visit from the collector. However, do not panic. The first visit is usually for the purpose of gathering information only. The debt collector simply wants you to know that he will be handling your payments.

Debt collection is a very transparent process. You will be given all the information you need. For instance, within five days of initial contact, the collector will send you a written document that will provide the necessary details regarding your debt. It will include the name of the creditor or the business from which you borrowed the money. Also included is the specific amount that you have yet to pay.

However, it is important to note that debt collection activities are not always 100% accurate. Sometimes, businesses may fail to update their records assuming that you have missed some payments. If you believe that you have sufficiently settled your debt, you can just write a letter to the collector to explain yourself. You must show proof that you have settled the account, and until the collector can dispute your claim, all debt collection activities will stop.

Do you have questions regarding debt collection?

Call the Stevens-Lloyd Group today.

The Importance of Understanding the Debt Collection Statute of Limitations

Debt collection is covered by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the law that sets a deadline for law suits. For every type of case, the law sets the timeframe in which debt collection agencies can legally attempt to collect…

Debt collection is covered by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the law that sets a deadline for law suits. For every type of case, the law sets the timeframe in which debt collection agencies can legally attempt to collect on that debt , including filing lawsuits against the debtor.

Normally, the debt collection statute of limitations begins to run the date the contract is “breached” “or broken.” In reference to debt collection, after the designated statute of limitation expires, a debt collector can no longer collect on the debt. So it is imperative you hand the debt over to a collection agency to begin the process before the debt collection statute of limitations expires.

The debt collection statute of limitations is computed according to the last time your client made a payment to the outstanding debt. In most states, 180 days(Six months) will be added to the date the last payment was received. From that point, the debt collector will then add the number of years of the statute of limitations according two things: the state where the debt was incurred and the type of agreement that was entered into for said debt

For example: let’s assume the debt was an open-ended account in Tucson, AZ. The last payment received was May 15, 2016. 180 days is added to the date bring the date to November 11, 2016. From that point, six years will be added to the November 11, 2016 date. Making the date that the debt collection statute of limitations expires November 11, 2022. All debt collection activities must cease upon that date since the debt collector can no longer use legal action to force the debtor to pay.

This is why Knowing the debt collection statute of limitations in your area is so very important. With this information, you can know the situation of your account and how it affects the chances of you being able to recover your outstanding receivables and/or debts

To determine the statute of limitations on your debt, it is important to know what kind of debt you have.

Open-Ended Accounts – According to the Truth in Lending Act, an open ended account is a type of credit plan that has repeated transactions and interests and balances that vary from time to time. Credit cards belong to this classification.

Oral Contract – This is a contract where you verbally guarantee someone that you will pay the debt you owe him

Written Contract – A debt where the creditor and debtor sign an agreement that details the terms of payment as well as fines and penalties

Promissory Note – This involves a written document where the debtor agrees to pay the debt according to a specific schedule of payments. The debtor also agrees on the applicable interest rates.

Remember, even if the account is only a month (or a even day) away from the expiration of the statute of limitations, you can reset the the six months and six years statute timeframe expiration date if your client/customer pays just a single dollar towards the outstanding debt resetting the six months and six years statute timeframe for any possible law suits.

For a complete lis of the Debt Collection Statute of Limitations by state visit:
https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/state-statutes-of-limitations-for-old-debts-1.aspx

Credit Management Services: 5 more Tips for Successful Receivables Recovery

In out first installment of our Credit Management Services series and successful recovery of outstanding receivables, we covered tips from documenting everything to payment plans and finance charges. In our second article, we discussed the importance of making …

In out first installment of our Credit Management Services series and successful recovery of outstanding receivables, we covered tips from documenting everything to payment plans and finance charges. In our second article, we discussed the importance of making copies, providing demand letters and personal guarantees when attempting to recover your delinquent accounts receivables.

In part three of our Credit Management Services series, we continue with Collection Manger Joy Paul͛s tips for successful recovery of outstanding receivables.

Credit Management Services

Tip #13 – Timing Is Everything

Credit Management Services | International Debt collector

Debts are not like fine wine, they don͛t get better with age! Remember that timing is everything. Debts become less collectible the older they get. The more time elapses, the more opportunity there is for the debtor to file bankruptcy or liquidate their assets and get out from paying their bills entirely

Businesses tend to hold on to their delinquents an average of nine to ten months, six months longer than they should. There is a systematic approach to recovery of outstanding receivables. This requires resolution of these accounts within 90 days and subsequent follow up if the debt is still not paid

After an account is ninety days past due, send a 10-Day Demand Letter. It is imperative to place a call to the debtor on the tenth day. Inquire if they received the 10-Day Demand Letter. State that if they don͛t pay, they will be sent to collections.

If the account is over 120 days and there is little to no movement towards money, it is time to deploy a collection agency or initiate legal action. The last statement or demand letter made to the debtor has to specify exactly what you will do and when you will do it. Holding on to accounts too long causes added internal costs. Time spent working on fresher account is far more productive than hacking away on older ones!

Tip #14 – Hiring Collection Agencies – Don͛t Spend A Dollar Chasing A Nickel

Most businesses wait twice as long as they should before turning accounts over for outside collections. For every 30 days, your chances of collecting in-house drop another 12%

Collecting debt is basically a financial process. We treat it as an ͞emotional͟ process because we͛re human. But it͛s the financial process that determines whether we make or lose money for our company.

Accounts up to four months old are 80% collectible. Files 4-12 months old are about 20% collectible. Because the older accounts are obviously less collectible than the new ones, and because you don’t have enough time to work on them all with equal effort, you have to focus on the most recent ones and give up on some of the older accounts

When the debtor is communicating with you, do not place an account with a collection agency. Only assign accounts to a collection agency when the debtors completely ignore demands for payment and do not return calls, refuse to pay, when they lie, or when there are numerous broken promises or an NSF check. Another reason to retain a collection agency is if there is an irreconcilable dispute.

According to Joy, collections agencies can also offer suggestions and act as sounding boards. For instance, The Stevens-Lloyd Group suggested on one problem account to hire an private investigator to locate assets. This advice actually paid off and Joy was able to recover the money through legal means

A collection agency can offer advice and encouragement. After all of the steps required to file a small claims case have been implemented, a collection agency can take over once a judgment is procured. This is advantageous because attorneys can be expensive and collection agencies work on a strictly contingency basis.

If a case is large enough to render an attorney cost-effective, a good collection agency, such as The Stevens-Lloyd Group, knows who the good attorneys are. They have the knowledge and experience to cull out expensive and mediocre attorneys.

There is definitely something to be said about getting a problem account off of your shoulders!

Tip #15 – Be Proactive With Legal

In some situations, legal action is necessary. In her business, Joy has come across debtors who received the insurance check but deny receiving it, therefore not paying TM Building Damage Restoration for the work they performed. Other situations may be debtors refusing to pay, never returning phone calls or responding to emails, or sending a check with a partial payment and marking it, “paid in full.”

In handling unpaid accounts, Joy realized that there comes a time when you have to quit working on an account and proceed with legal action. One option is a Small-Claims Court. Anyone can file suit in a Small-Claims Court, without representation by an attorney.

The chief advantage of filing in small claims is the low cost. In some cases, less than $200 covers the entire cost of filing a claim and having papers served on the defendant.

You can also hire an attorney to file suit on an account in civil court. But a far less expensive use of an attorney is to hire one to send dunning letters to your debtors on the attorney͛s stationery. The advantage of the letter is that it͛s not only relatively inexpensive, but, more importantly, a letter from an attorney, unlike regular bills from you, tends to get opened. Debtors realize that to ignore a legal-looking notice could result in a fine, repossession of physical assets, or worse.

Tip #16 – Going To Court

In a class she attended entitled ͞Collection Law 2013͟, Joy studied the key aspects of collection law. Attending this class plus going through the actual process and applying what she learned has helped Joy to be the success she is. This, combined with the expertise of The Stevens-Lloyd Group, Inc. have proved invaluable in Joy͛s pursuit of excellence

Joy won 5 out 6 small claims and one civil case. She handled 6 small claims cases, won them all and recovered them all. Get all of the court forms in triplicate. Joy reminds us that you must notify the debtor when taking them to small claims court. Joy recommends small claims court for cases $1,000 and over. The small claims office in Tucson, like many small claims courts throughout the country, is very helpful and costs can run $200 – $500.

Accounts owed for over $2,500 is considered a civil court case. However it must to be under $10,000. Be mindful of statute of limitations, 290 days in civil court to get it in the court. Joy learned that she can file $10,000 civil cases without having to hire an attorney

Through her experience filing small claims and justice claim lawsuits, Joy discovered the value of deploying Constables. They may cost a little more money, but Constables are much more effective than regular process servers in serving documents to debtors. Costs are $78 to file and $78-$140 to hire a constable. A constable is a sheriff and is highly recommended and critical. He or she wears a badge, which proves to be very intimidating plus effective when it comes to serving debtors. He or she will attempt service three times. The more information you can give the constable the better. The constable can also help you locate the debtor

You must notify a debtor if you win the case. You can collect all of the fees and court costs incurred from the debtor, but judges can be temperamental regarding the collection interest.

And lastly, keep in mind that the legal process is very intensive, all paperwork has to be properly filed and on time!.

Tip #17 – Locating Assets Once Judgement Is Rendered

Private Investigators can be hired for $75. For instance, a PI will check the debtor͛s utility bill to locate where they live. They will also conduct a comprehensive asset and liability investigation on the debtor, as well as extensive skip tracing. For large amount owed, this is the recommended step in order to locate the debtor and their assets.