It should come as no surprise that many people have a negative opinion of debt collection professionals and the debt collection industry as a whole. There has been a good deal of public criticism recently over the idea of the Internal Revenue Service contracting out the collection of unpaid taxes to third party debt collectors.
Leslie Bender is president of ACA International, which is a trade organization representing hundreds of thousands of debt collection professionals across the United States. She recently released a public response to the criticism that the collection industry has received from its working relationship with the IRS.
In her statement, Bender made it a point to explain that the myth of the evil debt collector completely misrepresents the majority of the collection industry. She also provides evidence that third party debt collectors have actually recorded more success in the collection process with less complaints than the IRS was able to achieve on its own.
Debt Collection Myths
The first half of Bender’s message argues that debt collectors who ignore consumer rights are in the very small minority. These few bad apples are the ones that are giving the entire industry a bad reputation that is far from accurate.
Most debt collection professionals are upstanding members of their community who actually go out of their way to follow all of the rules and regulations regarding debt collection. They are professionals who work in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, and following these regulations ensures that they are collecting debts in a responsible manner.
Should they be forced to take a debtor to court, the legal proceedings in collecting debt place the entire burden of proof on the creditor. Any mistakes made in the collection process could result in a judge ruling against the creditor.
These responsible debt collectors are providing a valuable service to many businesses and industries in our communities. They are also members of those communities themselves, creating jobs and paying taxes on their earnings.
Better Collection Results
The second half of Bender’s statement argued that private debt collectors had performed much better than the IRS itself had done in terms of both recovery and customer service. She quoted a 2006 report that stated that there were only 31 complains out of 19,000 cases handled by private collectors, and most of those complaints were minor issues.
She also cited a statistic from the Better Business Bureau that stated that debt collectors resolved 84 percent of complaints against them, compared to 76 percent for all other industries.
In addition to working with the IRS to recover unpaid taxes, private debt collectors have also had great success working with the U.S. Department of Treasury. They collected over $3 billion together in the 2012 fiscal year, according to Bender.
The bottom line is that the United States Government is owed a significant amount of money by many of its citizens for various reasons. It deserves to recover those funds, and private debt collection professionals provide the most efficient way for the government to go about collecting on those debts.
As long as the debt collectors are working inside the regulations that have already been established for them, there is no reason that they should not be encouraged to continue working with national, state, or even local governments, as well as anyone else who might need help in recovering a debt that is owed to them.