Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, March 4, 2022

Collection Tip – Explaining Why You Can’t Explain

How often do you get this?
  You call and try to leave a message for a debtor, and their spouse/roommate/guest at the home asks ‘what’s this all about?’.  You obviously can’t tell them details that would violate privacy rules, but you don’t want to sound dodgy.  So what do you say?

A: ‘If you could take a message, that would be great.  I’m authorized to tell you my name is Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer, I am calling from Kingston Data & Credit, and my direct telephone number is 226-946-1730’.

A: ‘May I ask your name?  I’m sorry, but [Bob Smith] hasn’t indicated I’m allowed to disclose details to that person.  If they could contact me and indicate I can share information with you, I would be happy to do so’.

Taking it a step further, what happens when someone asks pointed questions?

Q: Is this a collection agency?

: Our company provides a number of services – if you would like to look at our company website, it gives an overview of what Kingston Data & Credit does.  But I am afraid without [Bob Smith’s] consent to disclose details to you, I can’t speak to the specific reason I am calling.

Q: Why do you want to talk to [Bob Smith]?

: I’m calling regarding a business matter between our company and [Bob Smith].  Aside from that, I’m not authorized to disclose details to you without further instructions from [Bob]. 

Q: Is [Bob Smith] in trouble?

: This is a business matter involving [Bob], I’m afraid I can’t get into further details unless [Bob] authorizes me to disclose details. 

Q: Does [Bob Smith] owe you money?

: I really can’t disclose any information regarding [Bob], as hasn’t given me authorization to speak to another person regarding this matter.  If he would like to direct me to speak to you, I can certainly share details with you afterwards.

Now what about someone who calls in, won’t identify themselves, but want to know who you are and what you do?

Q: What company is this?

: This is the direct line for myself, Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer, and I work at Kingston Data & Credit.  How can I be of assistance?

Q: Why are you constantly calling my number?

: I’d be happy to assist you – I’d need to know the number I am calling, and your name, and I can look up why we are calling. 

Q: I don’t want to tell you anything

: That makes it very hard for me to answer your question then – I’m happy to assist you, but I will need a little information to get started.

So what do you do when someone calls in and gives you a little information showing they know why you are calling, but you still can’t speak to them regarding the debt?

Q: Can I speak to you about [Bob Smith’s] debt?  He received a letter from you yesterday, and I am his wife [Mary Smith].

: [Mary], I’d be happy to assist you, but I don’t have authorization from [Bob] to speak to you about any file in our office.  If you have general questions about our company and how we work, I can assist you, but I can’t talk directly about any of [Bob’s] personal information.

You will notice in all the examples above, it’s not just a curt ‘I can’t talk to you’, it’s more of ‘here is what I can say, I am a reasonable person, but here’s what I can’t say’ approach.  This makes you sound protective of the debtor’s privacy (which you absolutely should be doing), but responding in a business-like manner that doesn’t make you sound like a scam.

The other important thing is to make sure your name, direct line, and who you are is available online – don’t let or some other website determine whether you are reputable or not – make sure you are involved in the conversation about your team members online.  Here’s a sample for one of our team members as an example:

Meaghan Rahn - Receivables & Outreach Manager | Kingston Data & Credit (

The whole point here is we have a very fine line to walk with confidentiality, but our job is communication -- you can still project an open dialogue without disclosing sensitive information, increasing your chances of a callback or cooperative person.

Got anything to add to these examples?  Feel free to drop me a line or give me a call.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit

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