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Collection agencies employ more sophisticated techniques

Florida consumers who are struggling with their financial obligations might also be dealing with new and intrusive tactics by collection agencies. For example, there are regulations that prevent collectors from calling repeatedly, but new technology allows them to leave direct voice mails without the phone ringing. Consumer advocates say they are trying to sidestep laws that protect consumers from harassment, but collection agencies claim that consumers respond to and like them.

Companies have also experimented with trying to give consumers a more positive experience with collection agencies. For example, some debtors have received email with avatars attached that take them through the process of paying a bill. Collection agencies say some people respond more positively to a friendly avatar than to a person. When phone calls do occur, increasingly sophisticated language recognition software can monitor those calls and allow actions to be taken such as a supervisor stepping in. Companies are also offering incentives in the form of competitions and prizes for employees who are able to do the most collecting.

More aggressive and intrusive techniques are being used to find debtors. Some agencies are using social media, and at least one is tying Social Security numbers to those social media accounts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to ban a practice that involves using local area codes on caller IDs.

Creditor harassment can be one of many stressful effects of bankruptcy. People might think they have no choice but to put up with the harassment because they will lose their assets if they file for bankruptcy, but if they qualify for Chapter 13, this may not be the case.

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