In a high-tech world, debt collectors continue to evolve. Their focus is singular: increase payments through any means necessary. The latest “means?” Cutting-edge technology.
The “good ol’ days” of sending letters and ringing phones are quickly being replaced by strategies that not only save money, but also allow them to get around the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Ring-less Voice Mails
Debt collectors are finding new ways to sidestep regulations that require consent to call and restrict the number of collection calls. So-called “non-calls” through new software can insert thousands of voicemails into a phone without it ringing. These stealth messages are sent to phone company servers and show up as voicemails. Agencies believe that no calls equal no FDCPA violations.
Kinder And Gentler Avatars
The words “warm” and “friendly” are not normally associated with collection agents. Avatars supposedly make that possible. They virtually smooth talk debtors into payments via email, arriving via inbox and providing a link to “discuss” their accounts. In a variety of languages, they negotiate payments after weighing credit scores.
Watching Your Language
Advanced language-recognition programs can track keywords, particularly salty language often used by more frustrated debtors. Based on vocabulary, the technology is able to identify emotions of both collectors and debtors. Prompts can help agents get conversations back on track. Color-themed boxes show the tenor of the conversation from routine conversations to expletive-laden rants. No word yet on the color designated for FDCPA violations.
Collecting Via Joystick
Borrowers are the ghosts to the Pac-Men (and women) who collect debts. With claims to make collecting fun, agents engage in video game competitions designed to motivate them. Whether in one-on-one or group play, they race to recover money while complying with regulations. Ironically, debtors are not involved in the competition.
While consumer advocates decry these potentially violating FDCPA “workarounds,” collection agencies believe that what they do will help, not harass consumers. Most borrowers will continue to believe the latter to be true.