40 years of debt collection tips

These essential tips come from 40 years of experience in debt collection. They were not gleaned from a book or sitting behind a desk. These were hard learned from telephone calls, emails, court cases, face to face repossessions, tracing debtors.

In addition to basic/complex debt collection scenarios, Jim was an experienced fraud investigator with some of the UK’s largest finance and Information companies. Ford Credit UK, Experian, Renault Finance, NWS, Lloyds Bank.

Collecting your own debt may seem daunting to you now; however, will become much more insightful after absorbing Jim’s recommendations.

5 things to remember at all times:

  1. You are in the right and the debtor in the wrong.
  2. The money is yours and not thiers.
  3. There are no reasons for non-payment only excuses – accept NO excuses.
  4. Debtors need no skill in not to pay you.
  5. Debt collection is a learned skill and process
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These tips are in no particular order – you do not need all these skills and suggestions. However, it is advised that you remember them and keep them close at hand.

  1. Make sure you have all the correct information at your fingertips. Remember, it is your facts that matter not the debtors.
    • Have the papers in date order
    • Post its on mega important docs. Maybe 1 or 2. Not all of them. You already know what is there.
    • Sit at a laptop or desktop with relevant files open.
    • Prepare.
  2. Never stray from the facts of your debt. And remind the debtor regularly what it was, i.e. you borrowed XX for whatever and that you would repay me xx on the xx. I am going to say this again; REMIND THEM WHAT THEY BORROWED, WHY THEY BORROWED AND WHEN THEY WOULD REPAY IT.
  3. Focus on the positive outcome. Do not dwell on past items.
  4. Ensure that you have an outcome that you seek. It might be the entire debt today or repaid over months. It might be a discounted settlement. It might be the return of equipment. It is up to you – not up to the debtor. WHAT DO YOU WANT.
  5. Payment arrangements are bad. If you accept one, make sure that it is timely. IE; 50% today and 50% next week. Weekly payments over years are wasteful of your time.
  6. Take notes. At some point the debtor will say that you said this or that. Be in a position to rebuke anything that is incorrect (or a downright lie) and remind the debtor what they said or promised.
  7. Never accuse the debtor of lying. Just remind the debtor what they said, promised or wrote. Without emotion.
  8. Your time is valuable. Consider placing the debt with a debt collector – Resolute Collections.
  9. Ensure that the debtor has a copy of all documents, reminders etc – this gives you legitimacy. There is a good chance they say they will not have them, which is mere prevarication. You can:
    • Email mail them immediately whilst you are talking to them.
    • Deliver them personally or have someone do so. Standard mail is not an option.
    • Or say that you are continuing no matter what they say about the documents etc
  10. Make your conversation and communications calm and reasonable. No matter how you feel. The debtor does not care about your feelings or the hurt it causes you. Its not about you, its about them paying what is due.
  11. Don’t get personal. Don’t get emotional. Don’t get angry.
  12. Your debtor will have forgotten the benefits of what your money gave them. Remind them.
  13. Remind them what non-payment will mean to them. Debtors want to forget about the debt – no matter what they say. They want it to go away.
  14. Never threaten violence. The only thing that gets hurt is your claim to be paid. Violence gets you arrested. Violence detracts from getting your money back. Do not think about it.
  15. If they say “sue me or litigate” – tell the debtor that’s not how you operate. Tell them that you adopt a more direct approach. Tell them the next stage.  Tell them that you will ramp up your actions until you are fully paid. Refer them to our webpage Q and A
  16. If they say they have a solicitor/lawyer looking into the debt – insist on the solicitor’s name and write them. Let the debtor pay some legal fees.
  17. Always give the debtor a reasonable amount on time. This could be a day, a week or months. Try to avoid impossible deadlines.  
  18. Always and we mean always – carry through on any promise you make. If you say will take an action you Must, and I mean MUST do it. Do it or arrange it immediately after the conversation. Inform the debtor that it is in your diary to do such and such should the payment not arrive. AND DO IT.
  19.  Ramp up your actions. Don’t throw everything at the debtor on day one. Ramping up gives them a feeling of anxiety – they will be thinking what will the creditor do next?
  20. Never stop the process without payment. I.e. I understand and accept your offer; however, until the money is in my bank the process will continue and you will receive xx action in 7 days etc.
  21. Follow up on their promise to you with a letter, email or text.
    • Dear debtor on the 1st of January you stated you would pay xx amount direct into my bank on the 15th January. Notwithstanding this agreement:
      •  I will withhold further action until the 15th January — or
      • I will continue with my collection action
  22. Remind them days/weeks before their promise of exactly what it was
    • Dear debtor on the 1st of January you stated you would pay xx amount direct into my bank (your bank details or address or PayPal account etc) on the 15th January.
  23. Always read and reread any letter or email you send to the debtor. Give it an hour between writing and reviewing. Then send it. An hour is enough time to ponder over what you have written to achieve the exact content and proper tone.
  24. Even if there is no response from a debtor continue your action. It’s the old game from the debtor, if I ignore the creditor they will go away or think I have gone away.
    • If they have gone away trace them. Debtors rarely go far.
    • When you find them at the new address, send them copies of all that you have done since you had last actual contact.
    • Inform them that you will find them no matter where they go. We are living a global technological world – it is very, very rare for someone to fall of the grid.
  25. Do something unusual.
    • Send them a birthday card reminder
    • A private and confidential letter to somewhere they did not expect. Golf club, social meeting place.
    • A note on car windscreen
  26. Tactfully (not threaten) that continued non-payment means continued action from you. This will prevent the debtor from enjoying other things. It might even affect their income or reputation.
  27. A broken promise is just that – it is broken. You and the debtor cannot go back to it. New conversation means new deal. Or more action on your

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