Compliance relates to many areas. It is about meeting the requirements presented by states and clients. One of the best defenses against frivolous lawsuits is your ability to demonstrate that you have processes and technology in place to meet the requirements of different states.
With regard to your clients, the prospect of losing a client should make anyone want to comply with their clients’ requirements. How flexible is your system to meet today’s compliance requirements?
Here are a few examples that will give you an idea of your ability to meet some common requirements. Any system can be modified to work in a different way. What we have considered are circumstances based on today’s rules and client requirements. We feel that these examples should be handled without any customization.
1. If you were not licensed to work in a specific state and received a placement in that state, does your system have the ability to automatically “close” that account? If a collector later attempted to access that account, would the system stop them or warn them that the account should not be worked?
2. States have started to pass legislation that limits calls and messages to consumers. Can you limit the number of calls placed to a consumer or an individual phone number during a day or a specified period of time? (e.g. no more than 4 attempts per consumer per day or 20 attempts in 30 days). How would you test this? Set your system as required. Set up a test account. Call the home number 4 times. Now try to make a 5th call. Did the system stop the 5th call?
3. In the above example, does the system handle “unusual” agent behavior? In this case, set up a test account with the 4 call maximum per day and a home and work number. Make 3 calls to any of the numbers. Now have two different users go into the same account. Have one call the home and another, the work number, at exactly the same time? Does your system stop one of the calls?
4. A consumer in the state of Texas has the following possible home phone numbers on their account (559) 448-7012 and (972) 862-1254. The first is a number in California while the second is a number in Texas. What does your system say is the allowable calling period for the consumer, based on that information? The answer (without complicating it with daylight savings time) is 11 AM to 10 PM EST. Do you know why?
5. What if in the above example, the phone numbers were the same but the consumer’s state was Virginia? What is the allowable calling period? The answer is 11 AM to 9 PM since Virginia is in the eastern time zone and 11 AM to 9 PM is the time period that meets the requirements of California, Texas and Virginia.
6. In the example above, if the work number was (800) 678-9000 and you wanted to be safe by considering all numbers when the allowed calling period was computed, what does your system say is the allowed calling period for this example? The answer our system comes out with is 2 PM to 5 PM, if the most stringent option is selected. This is a conservative and safe answer since the 800 number could be in one of many different time zones. Of course, a less conservative setting could ignore the 800 number in time zone calculations.
7. A large client insists that only the 25 collectors who work their accounts should have any access to their accounts. Can you set up your system to only allow those 25 collectors to call up one of the special client’s accounts?
8. How do you deal with the fact that some states require you to launch a call to a home number before calling a work number? Does your system control this? Does it permit a call to a work number within seconds of a call to a home number, inviting a potential lawsuit?
There are many more examples of areas where technology can help you to be more compliant in the collections space. If your base system can not do all or some of these things, we encourage you to discuss these examples with your software vendor. We also encourage feedback on our short checklist.
Ranjan Dharmaraja is the founder of Quantrax Corporation and has 25 years of experience in the collection industry. He can be contacted by email.