If someone owes you money and you are having a hard time collecting on the debt, knowing that person’s tendencies is a good first step to a successful collection effort. Here are three common debtor profiles and a few tips for how to address the unique challenges they present.
The missing person
Some debtors seemingly vanish into thin air. They don’t answer their phone and are not reachable by mail. They may even change addresses frequently to stay one step ahead of debt collectors.
Although this can prove frustrating to someone who is owed a lot of money, even the most elusive debtor cannot hide forever. A thorough look into public records, including criminal and civil court documents, may turn up current addresses, places of employment and other vital information. Even if the debtor has vanished in the real world, they may be reachable on social media. Unfortunately, often the only thing that gets the “missing person” debtor’s attention is when they are served with a lawsuit or a judgment is entered against them and enforcement begins.
This type of debtor seeks to turn the tables on the debt collector, threatening legal action due to perceived or even made-up collection violations. Experienced debt collectors need not fear such threats because they know to avoid illegal collection practices such as:
- Misrepresenting the amount of debt owed
- Telling the debtor they face criminal consequences
- Calling outside of normal hours (between 8 am and 9 pm, generally) or other forms of harassment
As long as you remain professional and act within the law, the debtor’s attempts to inflict legal and financial damage on you are destined to fail. If the matter ends up in court, a judge is not likely to look favorably upon unfounded allegations and you will have your chance to satisfy the debt in question. These debtors can usually be reasoned with and make a settlement on the debt – they are just looking for a deal to reduce the amount they owe.
There are as many excuses as there are debtors, and often times the stories they tell are very creative. Experienced debt collectors have heard them all, from “Someone stole my identity” to “I never signed anything!”
The problem, from the debtor’s perspective, is that a skilled debt collector knows how to find the facts. By thoroughly documenting all communications you have had with a debtor, you can identify inconsistencies that will shed light on lies, half-truths and evasions.
Collecting a debt is often a difficult process, but it is not one you have to face alone. By better understanding debtor behaviors, you can create a strategy that is most likely to succeed given the tactics employed by the individual or business that owes you money.