Delinquent customers don’t always understand the effect on small and medium-size businesses of their overdue bills or accounts. One of the most difficult jobs any small to medium sized business has to face is dealing with customers who have allowed themselves fall behind in the bill paying area of their life.
As any small to medium-sized business men can attest, making calls to collect overdue bills is an unpleasant experience at best. That being said, even collecting your own debts comes with a distinct risk of violating the FDCPA. In short, the FDCPA, FTC, and CFPB require you to act within the constraints of commonsense decency toward any debtor. Here are some things you cannot do:
- Call at unreasonable hours
- Tack on additional fees and charges that weren’t part of the original agreement
- Purposely postpone the payment on a customer’s account so that you can add more fees and interest
- Confiscate or repossess property despite not having the legal right to do so
- Call the debtor’s employer or co-workers about the debt
- Inflate the amount of money the debtor owes
- Pretend to be a lawyer to intimidate the debtor
- Deliberately represent that you are part of the United States government
- Threaten to turn a debtor over to the credit bureaus when you have no intention of doing so
- Threaten to have the debtor arrested or even more ludicrously, have them sent to prison
Obviously, in the case of a larger debt, you would probably be wise to hire a third party collection agency. A sharp business owner will quiz the collection agency as to their company practices and procedures to assure yourself that they are in compliance with the FDCPA. In short, hire a collection agency that will work for you in an ethical and professional manner.