A centerpiece of CollectTECH19 was the award ceremony recognizing elite professionals and companies of the accounts receivable industry. These professionals, agencies and products push the accounts receivable industry forward to new frontiers with higher standards for compliance and business. Those searching for the future direction of the industry need only to look to the following outstanding receivables professionals.
Receivables Professional of the Year
Recivable Solutions, Inc. Chief Compliance Officer
Top 50 Receivables Professionals
Encore Capital Group Senior Vice President, Business Development
Williams & Fudge, Inc. Vice President of Product & Innovation
Dennis J. Barton III
The Barton Law Group, LLC Owner & Managing Attorney
Gordon C. Beck III
Valor Intelligent Processing President & COO
BCA Financial Services Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel
Ron L. Brown
The Barton Law Group, LLC Owner & Managing Attorney
Bradley T. Canter
The Law Offices of Ronald S. Canter Managing Attorney
Debra J. Ciskey
Collectio Coach, LLC Executive Vice President
June D. Coleman
Carlson & Messer, LLP Of Counsel
Action Collection Agencies, Inc. Director, Information Technology
State Collection Service, Inc. Account Executive
Capital Collection Management LLC Co-Founder & CEO
Richard G. Doane
Sunrise Credit Services, Inc. President
State Collection Service, Inc. COO
First Collection Service President
TwinStar Credit Union Account Solutions Operations Supervisor
USCB America SVP, Chief Administrative Officer
Malone Frost Martin PLLC Partner
Trulliant Federal Credit Union Collections Manager
Receivables Performance Management, LLC CEO
State Collection Service, Inc. President
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP COO
Stefanie H. Jackman
Ballard Spahr LLP Partner
Joy N. Jackson, J.D.
Faber & Brand, LLC Partner
David J. Kaminski, Esq.
Carlson & Messer LLP Partner
Craig W. Klein
Capital Recovery Systems President
Bassford Remele Shareholder/Attorney
National Recovery Agency CEO
Aaron J. Newell
AR Solutions Inc. President/CEO
Richard J. Perr, Esq.
Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C. Partner
Ballard Spahr LLP Partner
Creditors Bureau USA President
Capio Partners Chairman
RGS Financial Chief Strategy Officer
Jeffrey S. Simendinger
SIMM Associates Co-Founder & COO
Lauren Valenzuela, Esq.
Performant Recovery, Inc. Compliance Counsel
Joe Adams Hampton Prior Group Inc. John H. Bedard, Jr. Bedard Law Group, P.C. George Buck Frost-Arnett Jeff DiMatteo American Profit Recovery Kaye M. Dreifuerst Security Credit Services, LLC Robbie Malone Malone Frost Martin
John McNamara Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Steve Neumann Marine Credit Union Tom Penaluna CBE Companies, Inc.
Jeremy Ruth Arvest Bank Michael L. Starzec Blitt and Gaines PC Brian Watkins Southern Oregon Credit Service Roger D. Weiss CACi
ACA International, the Association for the Credit and Collections Industry (ACA), the Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC), and numerous debt collection firms called out communication challenges within the proposed debt collection rule published by the CFBP earlier this year. The industry has felt stymied as new communication formats and technologies have flourished around them. Every other type of business has adopted emerging technological channels to communicate with their customers. They do not have to operate under the perceived communication constraints that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act places on debt collectors. Many in the debt collection industry have decried the “solutions” provided by the CFPB as uninformed, unworkable, and stemming from antiquated thinking. Technology vendors serving the collection industry are contemplating ways to help their customers comply with the proposed requirements, while industry members are taking a “wait and see” approach, awaiting the final adoption of the rule. Let’s take a look at a few of the proposals and industry comments.
Time of Day
ACA raised serious concerns related to constraints in the rule around the delivery of email and text messages at inconvenient times for the consumer, determined from the time the communication is sent. The danger lies in the fact that once the send command is activated, the sender has no control over when the email actually transmits. There are so many stops along the way over which the sender has no control that can delay the transmission of an email, potentially setting up debt collectors for inadvertent violations. Easy to defend? Maybe, but the associated expense could create another potential risk that isn’t worth it for a debt collector working in a strict liability environment.
The CRC urges an exemption for automated replies that inform the sender that their email has been received. It should seem logical that it would not be inconvenient for a consumer who sends an email to a debt collector at 2:00 a.m. to receive an automated response at 2:01 a.m.
Consumers have high expectations for nearly immediate responses to their emailed inquiries. I have had the pleasure of responding to a consumer complaint in which the consumer was unhappy that she did not receive a response to her emailed dispute related to an item on her credit report within 2 days, notwithstanding the fact that the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows a data furnisher 30 days to investigate and respond to a direct dispute from the consumer.
According to a study conducted in 2018 by Jeff Toister, CPLP, of Toister Performance Solutions, “A one-hour email response time will meet the expectations of 89% of your customers. Companies aiming for world-class customer service should respond within 15 minutes or less.” (https://www.toistersolutions.com/ blog/2018/4/15/how-fast-shoulda- business-respond-to-an-email, accessed on 10/8/2019.)
As this study demonstrates, the time restriction on emails could impact consumer satisfaction with debt collectors’ handling of consumer electronic correspondence. It also does not account for the fact that a debt collector may have partners on the other side of the world who may be tasked with investigating and responding to consumer disputes received via email. The time-based restrictions for electronic communication needlessly build inconvenience and consumer dissatisfaction into a process that is meant to reduce consumer inconvenience.
Attendees of CollectTECH19 came from all over the nation with one common goal: Find the latest technology and tactics to increase their ROI and compliance. Presenters brought their vast knowledge of collection tools to reveal exactly what professionals can do tomorrow to find success using technology available today. The following are excerpts from some of the in-depth presentations at CollectTECH19.
Text and Email Collections in Technology
David Kaminski, Esq. | Partner at Carlson & Messer LLP
Misconceptions and Misunderstandings about Digital Communications • A text message is writing that triggers state writing requirements. • Keyword programs are subject to allowable call-time restrictions. • Pass-through consent from original creditor is risk-free • Human intervention is the only requirement to launch a manual call. • Text messages do not count against your frequency of calls policy. • E-Sign does not apply to the ARM industry.
Requirements: Consent to Text Companies may obtain verbal consent for non-telemarketing voice and text calls to wireless numbers made using an automatic telephone dialing. Consumers must simply give their mobile number to the texting party or its agent [creditor/provider or its first-or third-party agency]. This type of consent does not activate the automated text platform.
Content Requirements Per Text • The name of texting party/ company. • This is a communication from a debt collector [FDCPA and state law may require this of both the third party, first party, and creditor]. • Text and Message rates may apply [only in initial]. • 160 – 900 character restrictions [This includes letters, punctuation and spaces]. Limiting text to 160 characters per text will prevent the message from being broken into parts by the carriers. • Abbreviations must be defined. • Confirmation of stop is required by CTIA [Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association]. • Daily scrub of ported and deactivated mobile numbers. • A terms and Conditions document.
Text Messaging for Third-Party Collections – Terms & Conditions Ensure your text message program complies with disclosure requirements of the FDCPA. Company initiated texts are communications in connection with the collection of a debt under current law: • Full mini-Miranda if the text is the first communication with the consumer [“This is a communication from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.”] • Subsequent disclosure requirement [“This is a communication from a debt collector,”] if the text is not the first communication with the consumer.
Collecting From the Unbanked and the Technology
Howard George | CEO of Receivables Performance Management, LLC
In 2017, 6.5% of U.S. households were “unbanked,” meaning that no one in the household had a checking or savings account. An additional 18.7% of U.S. households were “underbanked” in 2017, meaning that the household had an account at an insured institution but also obtained financial products or services outside of the banking system.
Almost 70% (68.4%) of U.S. households were “fully banked” in 2017, meaning that the household had a bank account and did not use alternate financial services (AFS) in the past 12 months. The fully banked rate in 2017 was slightly higher than the 2015 estimate (68%).
More than half (52.7%) of unbanked households cited “Do not have enough money to keep in an account” as a reason for not having an account, the most commonly cited reason.
Almost one-third (30.2%) of unbanked households cited “Don’t trust banks” as a reason for not having an account, the second-most commonly cited reason. (This reason was also the second-most commonly cited main reason (12.6%)).
As in previous years, higher proportions of unbanked households that previously had an account cited “Bank account fees are too high” (29.9%) or “Bank account fees are unpredictable” (24.9%) in 2017, compared with unbanked households that never had an account (21.1 and 17.0%, respectively).
Payment Channels to Consider When Collecting From the Unbanked • PayNearMe • Payday Loans • Cardpool • Google Pay
Update on Debt Collection Related Activities From the CFPB
K. (Gandhi) Eswaramoorthy | Program Manager for Debt Collections, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Eswaramoorthy of the CFPB provided statistics on recent trends in the industry as well as updates on current rulemakings.
Debt Collection Rulemaking The Bureau was originally considering a debt collection rulemaking for third-party debt collectors that would focus on three primary goals: 1) Make sure collectors are contacting the right consumer and collecting the right amount, 2) Make sure that consumers understand the debt collection process and their rights, 3) Make sure consumers are treated with dignity and respect.
After considering feedback, the Bureau determined that the “right consumer, right amount” issues would be best pursued in a later rulemaking that included requirements for creditors and third-party collectors. But, those collecting on the debts do need to have correct and accurate information. The Bureau’s proposed NPRM rulemaking covers FDCPA-defined third-party debt collectors that addresses the latter two issues.
If finalized, the NPRM would:
1. Provide a bright-line rule that would prohibit, with certain exceptions, a collector from placing more than seven unanswered telephone calls to a person within a seven-day period about a particular debt, and from calling a person within seven days after the collector has engaged the person in a telephone conversation.
2. Provide that a voicemail or text message that contains only specified required and optional content is not a communication under the FDCPA.
3. Clarify that consumers may designate a time or place as inconvenient for communication.
Clarify that consumers may request that a collector not use a specific medium (e.g., email, phone calls, or phone calls to a particular telephone number) for communication; further communication using that medium (with some exceptions) would be prohibited.
5. Clarify that calls to mobile telephones and electronic communications, such as texts and emails, are subject to the FDCPA’s prohibition on communicating at unusual and inconvenient times and places.
6. Require collectors to include in all electronic communications instructions for opting out of further such communications to a particular email address or telephone number.
7. Prohibit collectors from (with some exceptions) using an email address that the collector knows or should know is provided by the consumer’s employer and from contacting consumers using public-facing social media platforms.
The NPRM would propose to identify procedures that, when followed, would provide a safe harbor from liability for collectors who, when communicating with a consumer by email or text message, unintentionally communicate with third parties about a debt.
A collector would be entitled to the safe harbor if, among other things, it communicated with the consumer electronically using:
1. An email address or telephone number that the consumer recently used to contact the collector for purposes other than opting out of electronic communications;
2. A non-work email address or non-work telephone number if the consumer first received notice and an opportunity to opt out of electronic communications to that address or number but did not opt out; or
3. A non-work email address or non-work telephone number obtained by the creditor or a prior collector from the consumer and recently used by the creditor or a prior collector to communicate about the debt, as long as the consumer did not ask the creditor or prior collector to stop using that email address or telephone number.
Cyber-Tracking: The Surface, The Deep and Dark Web
Ron Brown | Owner of ConSec Investigations, Inc.
Here are some great sites for monitoring social medial in search for a consumer:
Technorati Technorati is the largest blog monitoring service. Once you register your blog on Technorati, it tracks any blogs that reference your posts. To sign up for alerts, just search for your blog, then subscribe to the RSS feed.
Addictomatic Addictomatic allows you to create a personalized tracking page and pulls content from all over the Internet including, but not limited to Google, Yahoo, Technorati, YouTube, Truveo, Flickr, Blinkx, Ice Rocket, Digg, Topix, Newsvine and Tweetscan. Addictomatic is incredibly easy to use:
Step 1: Enter a keyword to track. Step 2: Modify the boxes—add or subtract places you want content pulled from. Step 3: Bookmark it and check back.
Twazzup While I hate to mention anything with such a terrible name, Twazzup is a useful tool.
Enter a keyword and Twazzup creates a dashboard tracking that keyword on Twitter. It breaks down and categorizes by link popularity, contributors, news, tag clouds and users, along with and including photos. It also shows who said what, how many times something was said, and how influential are the people saying it.
BoardTracker With BoardTracker, you can set up keywords to track, choose your preferences, and have the results emailed to you. It allows you to run searches on topics/keywords that are being discussed in forums or discussion boards.
The great thing about BoardTracker is that it can tell you who is contributing to which topics and ranks them in order of frequency.
Technology Vendor Selection and Your Compliance Management System – Five Key Strategies
Leslie Bender CIPP/US, CCCO, CCCA, IFCCE | Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel of BCA Financial Services Cindy Garner | Collections Manager of Truliant Federal Credit Union Keith Barthold | CEO of DKBinnovative
Highlighted here are several important strategies the vendor selection component of your compliance management system should include when onboarding a new technology or new technology vendor. Any organization’s compliance management system is a living, breathing and dynamic series of tactics or strategies by which your organization assures it has adequate safeguards and controls in place to achieve its objectives in accord with the law and in a manner that delights its customers. Here are some practical insights into both a creditor’s and a vendor’s perspective on topics.
Re-Evaluating Pre-and Post-Selection Due Diligence Tactics From the creditor’s perspective: Is the vendor living up to the representations it made about its compliance management system in response to requests for proposals or other vendor engagement efforts?
From the vendor’s perspective: • Is the creditor’s work placed consistent with what the vendor expected? • Does the vendor have sufficient controls and resources to live up to the standards it stated it had in the materials it proposed or provided that led to the creditor selecting it? • Are all technologies working properly and aligning to the creditor’s expectations?
Key Contract Terms Litigation has shown that a few minor updates to your standard contract provisions can position you to improve communication over technology resources.
Suggestions: • Encouraging creditor to obtain “consents” from consumers when the original debt is incurred or services are rendered to allow all the parties to use all forms of communication technology available to interact with the consumer. • Reciprocal commitments to notify each other in the event of a security incident or other major non conformity with any compliance standard.
I have had the opportunity to participate in over 200 conferences in my 22 years in the industry, each with its own unique qualities and benefits to speak of. Some conferences are great for content, others for networking, some big, some small and a few that are exclusive. Participating in the industry is valuable no matter what the conference, but over the years and with more and more conferences beckoning our attendance, it has become increasingly difficult to determine which conferences to budget for and which ones to pass on. The similarities of the conferences are striking and can, in most cases, only be distinguished by the attendee list and venue. That is however, until now.
I had the extreme honor of being the opening keynote speaker and master of ceremonies for this year’s newly established CollectTECH19 conference in Ft. Worth, Texas during the third week of November. Without bias, I can tell you this conference was different in many refreshing ways. These are not just my thoughts and opinions, these are the sentiments of dozens of professionals that I had the pleasure of speaking with before, during and after the conference and I will share those sentiments throughout this article for those that were unable to attend.
For starters, the participation was second to none. Many conference attendees don’t understand or realize just how much preparation goes into the conference and the sessions. Not only is it a massive undertaking for those that are choreographing the conference, but it takes a great deal of “guts” for the presenters putting together valuable Information for the crowd. At many conferences, while those brave souls are on stage sharing their knowledge, the halls and foyers outside of the conference room are packed with attendees on their phones, laptops and tables doing what they could be doing right back in their offices. At CollectTECH19, this was not the case. Whether it was during the sessions, the receptions or the special events, the attendees were engaged, involved and participating right up to the last minute on the last day of the conference. To say this was “refreshing” is a true understatement. Technology is critical to the futures of almost all of the A/R organizations in America and it showed.
The conference layout was genius. The first day opened with the keynote, followed by two great tech presentations that included five AI/machine learning organizations and brought so much to light on this new technology and how it is utilized throughout the industry. This flowed right into the opening reception which kept the group together; and by starting the conference at 2:00, it allowed the participants an opportunity to arrive that morning and save them an extra night’s stay.
The next day was truly epic and well thought out. Buses picked everyone up at 8:00 a.m. and shuttled the group to Top Golf for a great breakfast as the technology vendors set up in the golf bays to display their products and materials. The day was filled with incredible presentations by industry experts in the conference area and the schedule was broken up with golf, tech demos and networking all day long. Again, everyone was in the same place at the same time and participating, learning and, most importantly, having a great time. The day flew by and was highlighted by an amazing awards presentation at the end of the evening where the top collection professionals and top tech companies were honored and recognized for their incredible impact on the industry.
The last day started with breakfast while I had the pleasure of having a “fireside” chat with John McNamara of the CFPB. As always, John did not disappoint as his insight and knowledge of the Bureau and our industry is second to none. The conference concluded with a bang as every technology company was present for the industry’s largestever technology round robin, the TECHtalk Roundtables. Each attendee got to choose five, twenty-minute round tables with any technology provider they wanted to learn more about. It was incredible to see everyone stay and participate even though the conference let out at noon. The amount of information available and the amount of knowledge gathered undoubtedly sent every company home with a greater understanding of what they truly want to do with their organization’s future technological advances, but more importantly, put them on a path to get there.
From the participation, incredible speakers, transparency of the industry professionals sharing best practices, conference layout, Top Golf day and awards and the incredible number of tech companies in attendance assisting the agencies in their technological needs, this conference stands alone on so many levels and is undoubtedly one that you won’t want to miss in 2020!
Gordon Beck is the President and COO of Valor Intelligent Processing, a new organization in the ARM Industry specializing in BPO and 3rd Party Collections. Gordon has 20 years of experience with expertise in the recovery of Wireless, Landline, Cable, Satellite, Internet, VOIP and Financial Institutions. Gordon is known as a motivator, educator and great public speaker in the industry; participating in panels, debates and several individual speeches at industry related events as well as contributing articles and content to several call center publications.
As we begin this article it is very important that the professional tracer clearly understand what constitutes a “closed source,” its value and the obligation due to each closed source. By definition a closed source is a source of information with restricted access and information available only through mutual information sharing agreements. To clarify the definition as it applies to the tracing industry, a source of information available to the tracer and not to the general public built on mutual trust and confidence.
Why Use a Closed Source?
Every tracer must have a closed source network, a person or place that will provide information to the tracer and to no one else. Developing and expanding their closed source network is a fundamental requirement if the tracer is to be successful. These closed sources must have an absolute and complete trust in the tracer. They must know for certain the information they provide will be used in a legal manner and the tracer will never disclose the source of the information. In many cases the exchange of information may flow in both directions. There may be in some cases some other types of remuneration to the source for providing the requested information.
Closed Source Communication
I would first suggest that tracer decide how to protect the network “in transit.” It is my opinion the best way to preserve the closed source network contact information is through the utilization of a dedicated thumb drive. This method provides a mobile source, easy to transport, available from any computer and password protected.
The data on the thumb drive list should contain the following information on each individual source:
Name: I would suggest the tracer never put the sources real name down but rather use a code name or number. For example, 19-101 or EMPNFO -19. The significance of the 19 would be the year indicator enabling the tracer to know at a glance how current the source might be. The EMPNFO would indicate the source had employment information.
Contact Information: If the tracer is using a telephone number to contact the source, I suggest the number be coded. I often use CANDYSTORE, where C = 0, A = 1 N = 2 and so on until E = 9. Alternatively, I also use a crisscross variation of the phone key pad where 1 = 9 and 9 = 1, 3 = 7 and 7 = 3, 4 = 6 and 6 = 4, 2 = 8 and 8 = 2 and finally 5 = 0 and 0 = 5. By using this coded system, if someone would gain access to your contact list, they would not be able to readily access your information.
Record of Payment: If there is any type of payment for the information, which by the way is a business tax deduction, I suggest a record showing the date, amount and method of payment. I caution the tracer to never pay for information in violation of any municipal, state or federal law. And never ask the source to violate any law.
How a Closed Source Works
Let’s say I am trying to locate the residence and employment of John Smith. I cyber track to check chattel mortgage records (usually filed with the Secretary of State) in the state where I suspect John Smith resides and locate the lien filing on his vehicle, a 2019 Ford F150 truck. The lien filing provides the vehicle identification number of the vehicle (F150XXXYYYZZZ).
I now move from cyber tracking mode to skip tracing mode and contact my closed source of information, the Finance and Insurance Manager at the local Ford dealership. I provide him the VIN to the vehicle and he runs it through his international database. Since the vehicle is under warranty, it will indicate the last time the vehicle was serviced, where it was serviced, the address provided the dealership and the daytime contact number (usually the employment number). Now I move back to the cyber tracker mode and run the daytime phone number which will provide the consumer’s employment address, I run motor vehicle records to obtain the tag number of the vehicle which I place in an LPR system and finally check out the residence address provided to the dealership by using Google Earth to determine the consumers life style.
By using a combination of cyber tracking and skip tracing through a closed source of information, I have current location information on my missing consumer.
I once had a tracer tell me they had no closed sources, no one they could go to get information. I asked if they had brothers or sisters. The reply was, “yes.” I asked where they were employed. The brother was a deputy sheriff and his wife worked for the city utility department, the sister worked at the local library and her husband was employed in the service department at a local truck dealership. What a closed source network to have at her fingertips.
The closed source network, another tool in the professional tracer’s tool bag. Good luck and good hunting.