Because debt collection tends to be one part art mixed with one part science, it can really pay dividends to know and understand the people you are attempting to collect from. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to consider what generational group your client or customer falls into.

It should come as no surprise that young millennials are a completely different breed compared to senior citizens today, but as you drill down a bit deeper, you are likely to find that subtle differences also exist between age groups that you might not normally differentiate.

In order to gameplan the best methods to collect an outstanding balance from your client or customer, the first step is understanding what generation they belong to and what that might say about how they live their lives.

Generation Z

While many people have not even heard the term “Generation Z” just yet, teenagers that are just graduating into adulthood are going to be a significant force in the years to come. They are also going to be much more comfortable with credit terms than any previous generation, which could work for or against them in the long run.

Also known as “Young Millennials,” members of this generation have much lower than average numbers regarding both outstanding credit card debt and average credit scores. Both of those numbers can be attributed to a simple lack of years under their belts.


The broad definition for this category includes anyone who came into adulthood during the early 2000s, and many consider these millennials to be the driving force behind today’s economy. However, they are also struggling with massive amounts of school loan and credit card debt.

The fact that many millennials are struggling with their current debt situations makes them less likely to commit to taking on mortgage debt. They might also have trouble qualifying for that type of debt with many of them falling well below the average credit score.

Generation X

Generation X used to be a derogatory term for consumers that came of age during the 1990s, but the negative connotation has lessened over the years.

On average, members of this generation have their credit card debt under control, but many of them are still carrying excessive school loans, and they were also the most likely people to be purchasing new homes at the top of the housing bubble in 2008.

Baby Boomers

As they are gradually moving into their retirement years, many members of the Baby Boomer generation are paying off their long-held mortgages and finding themselves with some extra spending money.

This reduction in mortgage debt combined with the fact that this group was never big on school loans or credit cards in the first place has them in one of the strongest financial positions of any generation we will look at.

Senior Citizens

Much like the Baby Boomers coming up behind them, the majority of Senior Citizens have paid off their long-term mortgage debts and never really had much in terms of credit card or school loan debt. They also have the longest credit track record of any generation, which means that many of them have exceptional credit scores.

Collecting From Different Generations

In addition to the fact that different generations are likely to have very different debt profiles, they are also going to be interested in communicating in very different ways.

Members of the older generations might still be comfortable talking on the phone and writing checks to make payments, but younger generations are more interested in communicating through email and text messaging, and they prefer to make their payments online.

In order to be sure that you have the best chance of collecting from these younger consumers, you should attempt to communicate with them the way that they prefer and offer payment solutions that work with their busy lives. Of course, since many new technologies are not addressed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, following the appropriate rules and regulations in this area can be quite difficult.

As long as you are conducting your debt collection practices in an ethical manner, you should already fall in line with the FDCPA, but when it comes to things like text messaging, you need to be very careful to respect the consumers’ privacy.

Depending on what generation you are dealing with, the process of collecting an outstanding debt can take on a very different look. Make sure that you are accounting for that when putting together your collection plan, or perhaps consult with an experienced debt recovery agency.