Five years ago, on April 2005, I took a job as a debt collector. Ooops, sorry. Our trainer said we should always say ‘professional’ debt collector. Alright then, no problem. For one month, we underwent serious training, FDCPA rules, how to answer questions properly, how to collect, how to offer payment programs, etc.

I will tell you right now, it’s NOT the best job in the world. One, we had to work nightshifts. Two, I only took that job because I had no other choice at that time. Three, after maybe two to three years working here, you will discover that you are no longer as healthy as you think you are.

I no longer work for that company. I quit because of health reasons, after I got fed up office politics and the clients no longer sound reasonable to me (to a lot of us working there, actually). So where do I start? Why not TRAINING and some of my first day experiences?

We were trained by two Americans who are all seasoned professional debt collectors. The two words that they kept pounding inside our heads during the training were to be AGGRESSIVE & ASSERTIVE. Now this is the reason why debtors tend to be defensive all the time once they hear they are talking to a collector; they always assume that we’re calling them to drain them out of money in any way we can. In my opinion, it does not always work that way. You don’t always have to fight on the phone and force your way to make people pay. It sometimes pays to be nice on the phone.

Okay, so collectors, unlike customer service people can be rude on the phone. Yes, we were allowed to be like that but not to the point where it gets abusive or harrassing. I had co-workers who were like that and rudeness works for them. They sometimes go on scream fests with the debtors and they win – because sometimes, all it takes is to let the debtors know that you don’t easily get scared with their rudeness.

FDCPA – FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT, yes we studied that for EVERY state. One rule that applies to all: we are allowed to call after 8AM and before 9PM. Earlier than 8AM and later than 9PM is considered a violation. I remember one incident where I called someone from Florida, past  8:30AM. She was so furious and screaming at me because I was not supposed to call her before 9AM, that I was violating the state law. No, I wasn’t. There was no use educating her about FDCPA because she was screaming her lungs out, then she hung up.

The quota. Each month, we were given a quota to reach. Just imagine the pressure given to us. Add to the problem when we usually can’t reach people at home, we end up leaving a message to return our calls which they never do and they yell at us when we call them at their work phone. So I really can’t blame other people to become aggressive on the phone to reach the said quota, it’s either them (they might lose their jobs – I’ll get to that some other time) or the debtor.

I will be talking about other things about being a collector, and sometimes rant about office politics here. But I’ll end it here for now.