I bet I know what you’re thinking—trick. Tell someone you work for a collection agency and their reaction can pretty much be summed up with one word—yikes! That’s because ours is an industry that is typically thought of negatively. There are a few other professions I can think of off the top of my head that are met with a similar reaction. How many bad jokes can you think of involving car salesmen, IRS agents, lawyers, or cable TV providers?
Do you know why? In part, I believe that in each of these cases, society has let the actions of a few taint the way they feel about an entire industry. It’s just another case of the light shining the brightest on a few bad actors. It ruins it for the rest of us! Kind of sad.
As much as it pains me to admit, I know there are some collection agencies out there behaving dishonestly and treating consumers disrespectfully. But I think that only accounts for part of the reason the collection industry is not liked. Let’s face it, when money—sometimes a lot of it—is involved emotions can run high and sometimes you just want to shoot the messenger.
Good or bad, the fact is, the U.S. economy revolves around consumption. When low-cost money is available to consumers they spend, and when they spend it propels the economy. Those who provide the credit, goods and services do so expecting to be repaid. And when they don’t, that’s when we come in.
Have you ever stopped to think about what happens to businesses that don’t get paid? Bad debt can create serious financial problems for any business.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying There’s no such thing as a free lunch. We have a similar one that goes around our office. There is no such thing as an unpaid bill. They both are a takeoff of the economic theory that whatever goods and services are provided, they must be paid for by someone. In the case of the “free lunch” it’s true that bars in Milwaukee and other cities around the country used to advertise “free lunches” to get patrons into their establishments during the noon hour. And while they did not charge for the lunches—make no mistake—the consumed food was paid for with the profits made from the many beers and other alcoholic beverages customers bought to wash-down their lunches. And in the case of the “unpaid bill” believe me it will be paid for—in the form of increased prices, layoffs, tax increases, business closures, and unavailable services or goods.
Here’s a staggering and sobering statistic. According the Federal Reserve, the total amount of consumer debt in the U.S. exceeds $15.5 trillion!
In 2016, ACA International; the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, hired global advisory firm, Ernst & Young, to conduct a study of third-party debt collectors. Their survey reported recoveries of $67.6 billion in 2016 alone. This recovered consumer debt had a significant positive effect on the nation’s economic health. Check out the results below:
Providing America Jobs
– Direct Collections Jobs: 129,262
– Direct Payroll: $5 B
– Direct State / Local Taxes: $677 M
– Direct Federal Taxes: $852 M
– Charitable Contributions: $17.8 M
– Employee Volunteer Hours: 521,700
Even with those few bad apples, a huge majority of this bad debt was collected by ethical debt collectors who treat consumers with the dignity and respect everyone deserves. There are many reasons why people do not pay their bills and reputable third-party collection agencies like A. Alliance can work through issues to find amicable solutions for both creditors and consumers.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have a debt you are having difficulty paying, there are resources out there to help. For example, Ask Doctor Debt at www.askdoctordebt.org. is a free—literally free—website that can answer questions regarding debt collection and the laws that are there to protect you. Right now, they are in the process of updating their site so it will be bigger with more comprehensive information on a wide range of topics pertaining the credit and collections. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.
So…debt collection, trick-or-treat? I hope you’ll rethink your answer.
Best wishes for a safe and happy Halloween!
A. Alliance Collection Agency, Inc. is a full service, licensed accounts receivable management and debt collection agency providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Founded in northern Illinois in 2005, we have been proudly improving the bottom-line on behalf of our business partners in and around Chicagoland for over 14 years.
Image provided by: Derren Brown – wikimedia