Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of Debt Recoveries Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently released their report on the 2015 Australian Debt Collection Industry. You can download a copy here. According to the report, there was a noticeable increase in the general standards of the debt collection industry, yet a number of problematic practices remain.
On the positive side of things, it is good to know that the standards in debt collection have increased. This means that the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA), the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the ACCC Debt Collections Guidelines have been effective in the industry.
However, there are still complaints in some related industries when it comes to debt collection. In order to lessen (if not eliminate) complaints, a debt collection professional or agency should be both knowledgeable of the debt collection requirements and guidelines, where the collection is done. It is sometimes inevitable that some guidelines may intertwine, causing confusion. I think it is the responsibility of a debt collection professional to know both debt collection guidelines in general and also the laws relating to the particular industry of their clients and their debtors. As an example, we do a lot of work within the insurance industry, so all our staff are obliged to have knowledge and training on the Insurance Code of Practice, which relates not just to insurance companies, but also to third party service providers, such as ourselves.
It is also good to point that the developments in technology made significant changes in the industry. It has allowed digitisation of call recording and improved record keeping. However, for those small debt collection agencies that can not use the latest technology for debt collection, I can not emphasize more the importance of having a good system in record keeping. I discussed about that in this blog post. Moreover, small debt collection agencies may also use social media in collecting debts. All they need is an Internet connection and an active social media account and they are good to go (see the rest of the details on my blog here).
The report also stated that many of the complaints relate to excessive, harassing and coercive behaviour. It is sad that this still happens, but as they report said, issues with debt collection can vary by sector; different debt drives different behaviours and outcomes.
Aside from the report’s suggestion to identify and adopt the best practice approaches in the debt collection industry, it is good to remember the tips to become an awesome debt collection agent. Debt collection is all about listening and empathising. It is about negotiation and working together with the debtor.
Got other insights on the 2015 Australian Debt Collection Industry report? I’d like to hear from you. Email me at email@example.com or call 1300 799 820. You may also Skype me at adclegal.