How to Collect Debts Over the Phone


One of the most difficult aspects of running a business is collecting money that's due you. Sometimes the task is relatively easy. Other times, you have to be persistent with slow paying or no-paying customers. To successfully collect debts over the phone, you need to be familiar with the laws. You also need to know how to use tact and common courtesy to remain professional.

Things You'll Need

  • FTC's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  • Debt information, including contact phone numbers
  • Telephone

Read and familiarize yourself with the Federal Trade Commission's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (see Resources). This will enable you to collect debts over the phone in a legal manner.

Read over each debtor's information before you call so the details are fresh in your mind. Keep the debtor's account information in front of you so you can refer and make notes to it during the call.

Take a deep breath and clear your mind of other things. If you've had a bad day, don't let it color this phone call. To collect debts over the phone, you need to maintain a professional attitude. Don't use profanity, and don't lose your cool and raise your voice.

Call the debtor. Make sure you reach the right person before you begin the conversation. If you're calling a business, don't let yourself be shuffled around; determine who the responsible payer is and stay after him.

Identify yourself (or your company) and tell the debtor why you're calling. Stay focused on your objective: to collect a debt. If the debtor tries to get you off the subject, keep bringing the conversation back to the debt.

End the call with an exact date when you can expect payment of the debt. If the debtor claims that he can't pay the full amount, suggest a payment plan. Find out how much he can pay, and how often, until the debt is fully paid. Take notes so that you can refer to them later and make sure the debtor pays as agreed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Persistence often pays off. If you don't reach the debtor the first time, keep calling until you succeed. To keep the phone call on track, keep it as brief as possible. To let the debtor know you're watching the calendar, you can call him on the phone a day or two before the payment is due.
  • Under penalty of law, you can't threaten or harass a debtor, no matter how much he owes.

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