(such as auto-dialers or automated messages) to cell phones is prohibited. Stiff penalties are now being imposed on any business, be that the creditor or collection agency, in violation of the statute. Though this law is not geared specifically toward collection agencies, it has had a significant impact on the ability of all compliant collection agencies to penetrate the paper and make necessary demands to consumers to collect.
Simultaneously there has been a rapid rise in cell phones being the only number given to creditors. Many consumers no longer have a land line, or if they do they are simply listing their cell phone on credit applications, patient registration forms, emergency contact numbers, and other primary contact information. Cell phones now comprise over 50 percent of all the phone numbers given on accounts sent to Transworld Systems.
To compound issues, four states prohibit or severely limit, automated messaging even to landlines. Proliferation of these types of state laws is likely to continue. The current pro-consumer environment and laws are now stacked against creditors as well as collection agencies. All businesses are feeling the effects of the TCPA.
What is Transworld Systems doing?
Transworld Systems filters all consumer data to pre-determine which phone numbers provided by our clients are cell phone numbers. As a part of NCO Group, we leverage resources available through long established offshore call facilities in Manila. We have an established Transworld Systems team off shore. The Manila facilities house state of the art technology and are managed by well-trained and experienced Call Center professionals.
Long ago NCO Group selected Manila, an English-speaking, American-dialect, American-culture infused country, as one of the best locations to place some of our call centers. For over a century, English has been the language of the public education system in the Philippines. Most of our Transworld Systems Manila Team has worked within NCO for years engaging with US-based customers of many Fortune 500 companies. Compliance and security protocols and systems, as well as hiring standards, are equal to or greater than those we maintain onshore.
In our Accelerator and our Profit Recovery Messenger services, calls to cell phone numbers are made as manually dialed, live contacts from our call center in Manila.
We provide this enhanced service at no additional expense to our clients.
Live calls are included in the same low flat fees we have had for years while maintaining an impeccable compliance record for the protection of our clients and ourselves.
What can you do?
There are several proactive steps you can take to help increase your recoveries while being compliant to the legal restrictions you are under (TCPA, FDCPA, HIPAA, etc).
• Gather landline information from your customers as available. Specifically request this information on your credit applications, patient registration forms, order forms, customer profiles, etc.
• When selecting what data to transmit to your collection agency, be sure your system is pulling landlines as the primary phone numbers and cell phone secondary numbers.
• Revise your customer transaction process to receive, document and maintain prior express consent to use automation to call your customer’s cell numbers. Consult your attorney on this.
• Document the last time you have been able to verify the cell number belongs to the consumer.
• Be wary of any collection agency claiming to have no restrictions on cell phone calls. The laws apply to all. Cell numbers given to agencies that lack the offshore resources of Transworld Systems and NCO Group are likely either using automation to call cell numbers illegally (creating a liability for you the creditor as well!) or they are skimming the accounts for land lines with catastrophic drops in their ability to recover at all.
It is vital that creditors and business owners understand the position of their collection agency on compliance. This includes knowing what their collection agency can and cannot do, and what they are presently and planning to do to maximize recoveries while maintaining full compliance and eliminating liability in this ever changing environment. Keep the following list of compliance questions to reference when interviewing and working with any collections company.
Top 5 Compliance Questions for Working with Your Collections Company
1. Are they compliant with the following:
c. State laws
2. Are background checks performed on collectors in required states?
3. How cell phones calls are handled?
4. Do they know what PHI is?
5. Are they appropriately licensed to collect in all states?
Transworld Systems works relentlessly to ensure compliance with the ever changing national, state and local laws surrounding our industry. Transworld Systems also provides a Hold Harmless Agreement to our clients. With over 600 local representatives nationwide, an expert is always in close proximity.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide or substitute for legal advice. Should you have legal questions or concerns regarding collections compliance or any other legal matter, contact your attorney