Confessions of a Former Debt Collector
Grayson Bell, former debt collector for major lenders including Bank of America, Bear Stearns, and Countrywide, shared some of his career experiences ondailyfinance.com.
Among the most interesting points that Bell shares are:
The first thing that Bell shares about his time as a debt collector is that most of the outgoing debt collection calls are made by an automated system rather than a real person. Known as “robodialing”, the system helps collectors get in touch with as many debt-owing consumers as possible. Bell notes that the system would call consumers every hour (until 9 p.m.) until they finally answered the phone.
Shady Payment Processing and Late Fees
Bell writes that it only took him a few months as a debt collector to realize that the protocol that most lenders use for payment processing is shady at best. Although lenders accept many forms of payments, the payment system would often double draft payments, and even hold checks past the due dates, unjustly charging borrowers late fees.
Many lenders that Bell worked for would also penalize borrowers with late fees the day after the payment was owed, even if the policy allows for more time until the borrower is charged.
Trying to Help Consumers Was Often Frowned Upon
Bell explains that often he would try to help borrowers by giving them financial advice, but his supervisors would reprimand him. Bell was constantly reminded that his job was to collect as much debt as he could as quickly as possible. Any situation in which Bell attempted to be kind or helpful to customers was not received well by upper management.
Borrowers and Banks Were Both Part of the Problem
Bell concludes his reflection by arguing that both parties are responsible for contributing to the poor dynamic between debt collectors and borrowers. He reasons that lenders are guilty of offering consumers mortgages and loans that are far above what is needed, and borrowers are guilty of accepting unaffordable offers.
Bell ultimately admits that he left the debt collection industry when he realized he would much rather help consumers than harass them.