PDA

View Full Version : Debt collectors



stuckupmyownera
09-07-2008, 05:40 PM
I am trying to write a dodgy debt collector into my story, and I just don't have a clue.

Can anyone help me with suggestions of how he might describe his job, or any rules/principles/philosophies that a dodgy debt-collector might go by?

Weird question, perhaps. Sorry!

Robert Toy
09-07-2008, 05:52 PM
I am trying to write a dodgy debt collector into my story, and I just don't have a clue.

Can anyone help me with suggestions of how he might describe his job, or any rules/principles/philosophies that a dodgy debt-collector might go by?

Weird question, perhaps. Sorry!
You might find this link an interesting read

http://www.michigancollectionlawblog.com/2008/01/effectively_conveyed_notices_a_1.html

ETA: The left hand menu also has some interesting topics that you can link

L M Ashton
09-07-2008, 06:06 PM
I've done receivables collections as part of my accountant job as well as hired debt collection agencies, but I've also been on the receiving end of dodgy debt collection tactics as an accountant.

The dodgy ones seem to have an attitude that anything goes as long as they collect the money - including swearing, lying, calling names, threatening, and so on. I've seen debt collectors pretend to be someone's best friend from college to get someone on the phone (or get an updated address or phone number), threaten to repossess vehicles with no outstanding loans on them, swear blue streaks, call the people they're trying to collect from deadbeats and worse, threaten to garnishee wages or get someone fired if they don't pay by a certain date (I also worked human resources, so saw this a LOT) and lie to the person's employer as a means of extorting money... Think of absolutely every underhanded dirty tactic you can, and a debt collector somewhere has done it.

Keep in mind that there are, in some countries anyway (Canada, for example) that dictate which behaviors are acceptable on the part of the debt collector and which ones are not and will cost a debt collector his job and his client the money owed them.

jannawrites
09-08-2008, 12:05 AM
LM has given some great insight. I can imagine a debt collector wouldn't enjoy his/her job in the least and, perhaps, the stress and discomfort associated with the demands might make one handle things the wrong way. I don't know if this would ever compute to "dodginess," but...

Cathy C
09-08-2008, 01:18 AM
I did a lot of debt collection for an attorney I worked for. I was extremely cold-hearted in what I'd (legally) repossess, but only because those who defaulted on the debts I was dealing with were real scum too.

In America, a dodgy debt collector is going to be one who violates the "Federal Fair Debt Collection Act" which limits what companies can do to get paid. L M Ashton pretty much went through the things that are violations of the Act, but even some legal things can be really dodgy. Here are a few you can do (if he gets called in by legit companies to "do the dirty work.")

1. Find a way to sneak into the person's house---with approval. One private investigator we hired hit on the guy being collected from at a bar and got invited back to his place. She then used a hidden camera to map out the apartment so we could go to a judge and move that the valuable items he owned be given to us to sell. See, in a lot of states, you can't just tell a judge that "I know he owns an original Monet painting that would pay our client." You have to state WHERE in the apartment/house it is, and know the TITLE of the painting to be seized.

2. Have him boot the guy's car. Yeah, private individuals aren't supposed to own Denver Boots (which incapacitate a tire and make the car unable to be driven) But more than a few people have them, just like a few people have "slimjims" that open locked car doors.

3. Have him "find" a lost beloved pet (which he previously kidnapped) and demand a "reward."

Etc., etc. You can use all sorts of things that are in clear violation of the law, but that collection agents do every day of the week---it's rationalization at its finest in the debt game.

DeeCaudill
09-08-2008, 05:00 AM
You might want to check out Creditboards. Granted, the people there are on the other end of the transaction, but you get more gory detail on the back and forth between debtors and collectors than you can handle.

I should warn you that there is a bit of a cult of victimization to be found there.

Ali B
09-08-2008, 06:54 AM
I have a medical bill that went into collection and a local debt collector called me up. Here's the basics of the convo. Hope it helps.

He said hello and got my last name wrong. I explained that wasn't my last name. He said, "Well, okay, do I have ALINA?" (He refused to call me by my last name.)
"Yes, my first name is Alina...Who is this?"
"I'm XYZ and you owe my client money."
"I'm sorry, my husband lost his job and I will be trying to make payments when we get back on our feet."
"Well, you've had long enough to make payments. My client wants the full amount. This is your last chance."
"But the small amount of money we have is going towards feeding my children and keeping a roof over their heads."
"You've had long enough. You need to pay my client the full amount NOW."
"I've told you I don't have the money and will make the payments when my husband gets a job."
"YOU HAVE TO PAY MY CLIENT NOW."
"I don't have the money. What am I supposed to do?"
"BORROW IT FROM FAMILY OR FRIENDS! I DON'T CARE!"
*Click*- me hanging up the phone.

Troo
09-08-2008, 02:23 PM
Exactly how dodgy do you want him to be? Does he collect debts on behalf of criminals, or on behalf of legitimate businesses?

One thing to bear in mind in the UK that a debt collector is not allowed to enter private property without the property owner's permission (just like, well, most people). The more legit debt collectors know that most people aren't aware of this fact and will bully, threaten, insinuate and otherwise wheedle their way over the threshold. People feel far more threatened when the big scary man is inside their home, so it's in the collector's best interests to get inside the house quickly.

If his employers are, shall we say, unsavoury then he's far less likely to obey the law himself. There may be more overt threats, infliction of pain, vandalism to property or posessions, all kinds of nastiness.

stuckupmyownera
09-09-2008, 12:53 AM
Thanks all - loads of great stuff!

He collects on behalf of criminals, so probably as dodgy as they come.

I'm still struggling for some more internal stuff, if anyone can help. Like, if he was introducing a new young debt collector to the business, what he might tell them.

He's not even a very big character, but I just need to find a little more insight...

Troo
09-09-2008, 01:01 PM
Ahh, okay. That gives you a lot of leeway :)

I think maybe what might help is if you focus on what kind of guy he is. Even minor characters shine when the author knows more about them. Is he a family man? Does his wife think he works in an office? Does he visit debtors in a suit, in jeans, or in jogging gear? Can you contrast his appearance with his behaviour (e.g. Does a suited man show a propensity for using violence? Does the casual guy in the shell suit speak with a middle-class Home Counties accent?)?

Why does he do this? Is he the only person in his family on the wrong side of the law, or does it come from his parents / siblings? Does he enjoy it, or does he want out?

All these things will inform how he trains a newcomer. He might speak of respect for the family unit while threatening to make children fatherless. He might handle his recruit with the care and tenderness of a surrogate Father. He might view the newcomer as a threat to his own job and treat him with resentment, deliberately under-training him. He might wish for the new recruit to be a better person, and be a very reluctant teacher.

His attitudes about himself, the world, and the trainee will inform what he imparts and how he does it.

dirtsider
09-10-2008, 10:16 PM
At my first job, I had a collector call the office looking for one of the employees. He started off as if he was friends with the person. The "oh, come on, you can tell me" deal. Thing was, we hadn't heard from the person in question in a few days, no call, no show type deal. So when he did the all friendly act, I kept on saying we hadn't heard from the guy.

The DC then told me who he was and all I could say was the truth - the guy wasn't there and we had no forwarding information.

Troo
09-11-2008, 05:14 PM
Social engineering is always a good way to get what you want from total strangers. I've used it effectively in the past, both in detective work and in showing users exactly how most hackers really operate.

I'd never given thought to debt collectors using it, but it's ingenious! Hats off to that man :)

Alpha Echo
09-11-2008, 05:29 PM
The dodgy ones seem to have an attitude that anything goes as long as they collect the money - including swearing, lying, calling names, threatening, and so on. I've seen debt collectors pretend to be someone's best friend from college to get someone on the phone (or get an updated address or phone number), threaten to repossess vehicles with no outstanding loans on them, swear blue streaks, call the people they're trying to collect from deadbeats and worse, threaten to garnishee wages or get someone fired if they don't pay by a certain date (I also worked human resources, so saw this a LOT) and lie to the person's employer as a means of extorting money... Think of absolutely every underhanded dirty tactic you can, and a debt collector somewhere has done it.



Yup. This is true. Debt collectors can get NASTY. They call constantly - work, cell, home, any number for you that they can. They'll give you a hard time, even when you finally say, "Okay, let's work out a payment plan." They act as though they can't work out a payment plan, but in fact, they can. They always can. But they lie to you and tell you over and over again that they need all the money up front.

Once, a debt collector for me called my mother. She told my mom, "Can't your daughter borrow money from you to pay this off?" She then called me and asked me the same thing. Why can't I borrow money from family members? I must have a family member who is willing to loan me the money. What kind of family do I have that they wouldn't loan me the money? Then she had the nerve to criticize and talk down about my mom!

They are horrible. I have NEVER had a good experience with one.

L M Ashton
09-11-2008, 06:30 PM
Alpha, you reminded me of something. :)

In Canada, there are laws that limit the number of times in a day that a collector can call: 3. And once the debtor says, "please don't call me again", they cannot legally call them again. They can still send mail and whatnot, but not call.

The dodgy collectors don't give a rats patootie and will call dozens of times a day. Even if they talk to the debtor, they keep calling back, and calling back, and calling back. This amounts to harrassment. But, you know, the dodgy collectors don't care.

When a debtor declares bankruptcy in Canada, a collector can no longer contact the debtor in any way at all, and can no longer issue garnishee orders, repossess vehicles, seize assets, and so on. The dodgy ones will anyway. The assets will eventually be returned to the debtor - a month or two later after court cases - but the dodgy collector doesn't care. He's spiteful and vengeful and likes making life as difficult as possible for the debtor.


A bunch of years ago, I had a roommate who went missing. I reported her to the police, and it was when the cops showed up that we (the other roommate and I) learned that she had a history of identity theft, fraud, and forgery. She'd put the utilities into my name without my knowledge or consent (impersonated me over the phone) and racked up the phone bill by calling all over the world. It took two years, despite presenting the police file number, to get the utilities to remove those debts from being in my name. For two years, I was hounded by debt collectors trying to collect a debt that I had not incurred. And I repeatedly told them the police file number, the circumstances, and told them not to call again. They didn't care.

Same as the debt collectors who were calling about her debts. Tell them she doesn't live here anymore, we don't have any forwarding information for her, here's the police file number, and don't call us anymore. That went on for two years as well. Debt collectors didn't care. They harrassed us for her debts, refusing to believe that one of us wasn't her.