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Cutting Edge Education for 2020

  • Written by Receivables Advisor

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 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 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.

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.

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.

• 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.