Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, December 11, 2020

Secrets in Collections – Part I: The World Is Changing

A recurring discussion that I have been having with co-workers and colleagues over the last several weeks seem to have a theme – secrets.  There’s a lot that people in the collection industry think is secret that really isn’t, things that are secret that shouldn’t be, and an ever shifting boundary about what we are and aren’t allowed to talk about involving clients, consumers, data, and technology.

One of my early memories in our industry, I was at a small collection agency, about thirty years ago.
  I had been working at that company for about a month as a collector, and the agency owner decided to fire one of the sales representatives.  The owner called in the sales guy to his office, and while he was in the meeting with the door closed, the collection manager went to his desk and took his rolodex – because all those business cards gathered up were secret information that they felt belonged to the agency.  And of course, when the sales representative came out of the office, he was escorted to his desk to clean everything personal out, but also watched to make sure he didn’t log into his computer before he left. 

hat world no longer exists.

e all keep personal rolodexes of our contacts now in our personal smart phones and on Linkedin, and who we know and our business relationships clearly belong to us personally, not the company that provides us a plastic box to keep business cards in.  Relationships are personal.  Access to our social media accounts is private, and is not shared with our employers (well, they certainly shouldn’t be, but I have heard some horror stories). 

s well, our industry is shifting – the world of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in collections that existed has vanished as creditors using collection agencies started to care about their brand reputation, and the rise of social media and consumers sharing their stories of collection agents interacting with them has exposed bad actors in our industry, and suppressed a lot of bad activity over the last three decades. 

’ve been in this industry a very long time, since the late 80’s, and I know a lot of people who have been in collections just as long, or even longer as me.  Those of us who have remained active and involved in collections have changed with the times (either willingly or unwillingly), but we all know industry professionals that just haven’t kept up and have dropped out --  either they can’t grasp changing technology or consumer behaviours, or they can’t keep up with the way employees want to be treated, and don’t understand why their staff leave them for greener pastures.

Go ahead an look for yourself -- Google 'Collection Agency Ontario' or 'Royal Bank Collection Agency' or '[Name of Collection Agency] Complaints' or [Name of Collection Agency] Glassdoor'.  I'll wait.

ll the executives of your company can be looked up on Linkedin or Zoominfo.  Your staff can be headhunted through Indeed.  Consumers will tell stories about interactions with your agency (both good and bad) on Google Reviews, Yelp, or on  Your current and former employees will talk about your management style and company culture on Glassdoor.  When folks move from one company to another, they update their Linkedin profile and everyone in their network knows.  Don’t think everything you do is secret.

Because there is transparency, you can live in denial, or lean into what is out there and be part of the conversation.  L
et’s talk about this over the next few weeks, and what isn’t secret, what is, and how our industry has changed.

Got a story about secrets about the collection industry you want to share, or have something you want to have me address over the next few articles?  Drop me an email.

hanks kindly,

lair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
INGSTON Data & Credit
ambridge, ON

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