Debt Collectors Need to Follow the Rules of Conduct

Customer advocate groups are promoting higher public awareness on rules of conduct debt collecting agencies are required to abide to by law.

Organizations such as Gila Corp. here said it has engaged two business units, Municipal Services Bureau and Gila Group, in an effort that focuses on educating consumers about the collection industry professional code of conduct.

Supporters of the effort, however, include many within the industry.

"Harassment of a customer is both ineffective and illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," said Dwain James, executive director of the American Collectors Association of Texas. "Customers need to know that any type of harassment is not acceptable."

The commonplace occurrences that are not just unethical but against the law, Gila Corp. said, are the misrepresentation of someone's identity, making repetitive or excessively frequent phone calls to annoy or harass the client, the use of threats of violence, profane obscene or abusive language, calling a client at work after being informed the employer bans such calls, and calling before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. local time.

Gila is a national provider of outsourced revenue recovery products and services, specializing in collections services for governmental entities and other financial institutions. The company maintains collectors who use harassment techniques are not representative of the industry. Hence, customers should be informed.

Gila CEO Patrick J. Swanick also agrees professional collectors who follow good business practices and abide by the law are "much more successful in collecting unpaid debts."

"All Gila Corp. employees agree to and sign a professional collector's pledge," he said. "It is our way of ensuring that our collectors are committed to respecting the rights of a debtor."

He also believes in customer benefits when using a third-party collector, such as reduced retail prices and greater purchasing power because, "Higher prices would be necessary if businesses were unable to recoup their losses resulting from bad debts."

If customers know their rights, he added, it is easier for collectors to establish a positive relationship with them that is not based on a previous bad experience with another collector or industry stereotypes.

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