• Matt Kiefer

Changing the Negative Stigma of Collection Agencies

Complaints, harassment, violations of laws at the state and federal and levels, all have cast a negative light on the minds of many consumers regarding traditional collection agencies throughout the years. Owing money to someone else or some other entity does not exactly draw out positive emotions. In fact, it draws out the opposite and can lead to feelings of fear, anger, frustration, failure, hopelessness, and even depression. It can hinder one's ability to buy a house, a car, get a job, and rent an apartment. It can also lead to higher interest rates on loans, insurance, and even the ability to qualify for a loan. There is nothing new about this. It can be traced all the way back to the Bible in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.


Levi was a tax collector in Capernaum whose tax booth was on the main highway. He collected taxes on imported goods brought to town by merchants, farmers, and other groups. Matthew would have to pay all of the taxes in advance, then collect from the citizens and travelers to reimburse himself under the Roman Empire's system during that time. Many tax collectors were known to be corrupt because they extorted far above what was truly owed to enrich themselves, and were therefore hated by the Jews because they had the leverage of enforcement by Roman soldiers. Nobody challenged their decisions. Then Jesus came to town and Levi became Matthew and instead of collecting taxes, he went on to collect souls for God's kingdom.


Consumers today enjoy protections under a multitude of different laws that inhibit collection agencies from illegal and deceptive practices. Agencies can be sued under federal statutes like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Telephone Consumer Collection Practices Act (TCPA), among others. There are also state laws that mirror federal laws and can be even more strict. Individuals within an agency can also be sued for egregious violations. So there is a lot of incentive, like in our agency, to "Do the right thing." There are bad actors out there still and, when exposed, they usually make national headlines especially when the fines are huge and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or a state's attorney general is involved.


Being part of a faith-based organization like Preferred Collection and Management Services (d/b/a The Preferred Group of Tampa) has advantages for clients and consumers. Encouraging employees to use compassion, solution-based talk-offs, active-listening skills, patience, thoroughness, and to



solicit feedback from consumers is what helps us maintain an "A rating with the better business bureau on our consumer-facing website, www.preferredcms.com, and retain clients due to minimal complaints. We are NOT perfect but we always seek feedback to improve and make for a better consumer experience. We want to be the problem-solver who gets the consumer back on track, help fix those negative emotions, and get our client paid for the money and services they are owed.









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