Making a collections call

Making the phone call to discuss an outstanding debt is never easy. Often, debtors will refuse to discuss the matter, ignore the phone call or just outright hang up the phone. Here are a few tips on how to overcome these obstacles.

Respect the debtor's privacy

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission  (ACCC) is the legislative body that protects the rights of the consumer. Their job is to ensure that consumers are being treated fairly. Your job on a collections call is to ensure that you meet all their requirements and abide by their regulations.

For instance, you should advise the debtor if the call is being monitored by a third party or recorded, or risk breaching privacy regulations. If the debtor does not wish for the call to be monitored or recorded, you must cease doing so. At this point, you may choose to make the call on a phone line that does not automatically record the call.

Phone calls regarding outstanding debt are classified as sensitive information and businesses are prohibited from discussing outstanding debts if not speaking to the debtor in question or other unauthorised third parties. Appropriate security measures must be taken to verify the debtor, which can include asking him/her to provide identification details.

Avoid aggressive behaviour

Making collection phone call can test your patience, as debtors can often become angry when asked to discuss their debt and may consider the call a personal attack. However, it's important to remain calm and avoid aggressive behaviour on your part. If the debtor continues his/her hostile demeanour, you should end the call.

Outline consequences

Outlining the consequences of non-payment is a key element in negotiating debt repayment. For the biggest impact, it's best to explain these consequences early on in the conversation and the impact they will have on the debtor's credit report. Ensure you're delivering accurate information - for example, you cannot say that further legal action may be taken if there is no intention to take further legal action.

Keep in mind that consequences are also rarely definite. Using words such as 'may' and 'possible' instead of 'will' and 'certain' can be the difference between abiding by regulations and breaching ACCC rules.

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