Leading the way with transparency and education
By Anne Rosso Mai
How long will a debt stay on my credit report? Can I be held responsible for my spouse’s debt in the event of a divorce? Wait, how do you know if you are a legitimate debt collection company?
Debt collectors hear these questions all the time, as consumers often struggle to understand the collection process. The answers are not always quick and easy. After all, your employees are trained under federal and state laws, collecting information, and resolving accounts, but they are not financial advisers.
By including links to verified financial literacy resources on your website, you can help consumers find the essential information they need to feel comfortable talking to representatives of your business. Many ACA International members use the new Know my debt consumer education site to improve the way they serve consumers and ultimately customers.
Developed by the ACA Financial Literacy Committee, Know My Debt provides clear explanations to help consumers improve their financial literacy and solve their debts.
âKnowing My Debt is all about giving people a resource to understand the credit and collection industry,â said Debbie Frank, CEO of Credit Bureau Services LLC and Chair of the ACA Financial Literacy Committee. âEveryone is on a financial journey and Know My Debt is here to guide, inspire and engage people as they make decisions about their money and plan for their financial future. “
Knowing my debt explains:
- Debt and credit laws and regulations that protect consumers.
- How to work with a debt collector on past due debt, including specific explanations of student loan debt.
- Answers to common questions about credit reports and credit scores.
Building consumer financial literacy is good for everyone. It helps consumers understand how they got into debt, how to work with collectors to resolve their account, and how to turn things around in the future. It also shows customers that you care about their customers. Additionally, it helps collectors when consumers trust their motives and the debt collection process in general. By including a link to Know My Debt on your website and encouraging your collectors to refer consumers to it in their phone conversations, you ultimately build confidence in the debt collection process.
Sometimes consumers have never been contacted by a debt collector before and are unsure how the process works. Or maybe they are struggling with other stressors such as illness, unstable employment and divorce.
âI believe that consumers have a hard time [with understanding the debt collection process], but I also think the main reason is the feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated at being contacted about an unpaid debt, âsaid Jeff Simendinger, co-founder and COO of SIMM Associates Inc. âThis frustration acts like blinders, with most consumers not taking the time to ask questions or understand the options available to them. This leads to avoidance, which leads to more attempts by the agency to contact the consumer and the level of irritability of the consumer is increased.
That’s why, for years, SIMM Associates has included a financial resources page on its website. When Simendinger heard about Know My Debt, he immediately added the link to his website.
âFinancial literacy is an integral part of our conversations with consumers today,â he said. âProviding resources to help a consumer navigate their current financial situation is a building block of a positive and successful outcome. “
Because the internet acts as a fluid exchange of information, anyone with a $ 10 website domain can deliver false stories and bad advice on managing finances and eliminating debt. Consumers may be inclined to believe that a simple, albeit bogus, solution is legitimate when in fact it only makes their problems worse.
âI always wanted to include financial education on our website, but I didn’t want to put a link on our site that I hadn’t read first and was convinced that it provided good information to consumers. Brian Himmel said. , President of First Federal Credit Control Inc. âI had looked at other financial literacy websites, but either the information was too big or it was too hard to understand. Know My Debt reaches this sweet spot. It answers the questions we often hear from consumers and takes them to a third party, so we’re not the ones telling them how these processes work.
Know My Debt is a resource that your collectors can share with consumers and believe the information is correct and useful.
âI think the Know My Debt website is wonderful,â said Michelle Gallino, president of Western Mercantile Agency Inc. Our website links right away. I firmly believe that everyone in the collection industry should do what they can to educate consumers. Consumers need to know that we are not the bad guys. We want to help them.
Visit the Know My Debt website at www.knowmydebt.com and see below for how to add the link on your website.
Anne Rosso May is Director of Communications and Editor-in-Chief of ACA International.
How to add Know My Debt to your website
- On your website, link to your consumer resource page, titled Know My Debt: Explaining Consumer Rights and Navigating Debt Solutions.
- Use this address for the hyperlink: https://www.knowmydebt.com.
- Remove existing references and hyperlinks to Ask Doctor Debt (www.askdoctordebt.com). ACA will soon be removing the Ask Doctor Debt site for good.