FTC Publishes Top Consumer Complaints- released March 2011

17 03 2011

The Federal Trade Commissions compiled a list of consumer complaints for last year, 2010..  Among complaints over internet services, imposter scams, internet auctions, foreign money and counterfeit scams, identity theft topped the list captivating 19% of complaints. Debt collection ranked number 2 for top consumer complaints.

Identity Theft is estimated to affect about 9 million Americans a year. Most victims do not find out until they are denied from mortgage or car loan because of credit issues, receive letters from collection agencies for debt that the person never incurred, or receive something in the mail about a house the consumer never bought, apartment they never rented, or a job they didn’t have. It is important for a consumer to protect by monitoring their personal information, such as their credit scores, to prevent identity theft or catch it early before too much damage is done.

The FTC reported 144,150 collection complaints in 2010.  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan claimed that her office received more than 7,000 debt related consumer complaints last year taking the number one spot on her costumer complain list.  With more people struggling to pay off mortgage loans and credit card debts, consumers worry about their financial future.  For the Illinois Attorney General’s complaint list, identity theft came in at number 2 with more than 3,600 complaints about fraudulent credit card charges, utilities opened in the victim’s name, and bank fraud.

For the first time, Imposter Scams made the list of complaints for 2010.  This growing crime includes people posing as friends, family, or trusted businesses or government agencies to get consumers to send them money.  Consumers should be wary of any entity that wants them to wire money, pay to collect winnings, or claim to be with a government agency or someone you care about, or want you to act immediately. 

A favorite impostor scam during tax season is the fake Internal Revenue Service e-mail. The target of the fraud gets an e-mail with an official-looking IRS logo demanding a credit card number to settle a tax debt. If the potential victim doesn’t come through, the e-mail warns, the agency will take action by garnishing the person’s wages or placing a lien on his or her home.

The IRS doesn’t contact taxpayers by e-mail or even by phone, but by email.  A person who doesn’t know that might be shaken enough to click on the link in the e-mail and plug in a credit card number.

Another impostor fraud, the grandchild scam, used to target seniors by phone. An elderly person would get a call from someone claiming to be his or her grandchild in distress, wrongly arrested in a foreign country and desperately in need of money to get out of jail. But because the grandchild scam required a gullible senior, who was perhaps forgetful or hard of hearing, con artists have moved on to pastures where the potential victims are more plentiful: social networks.

Impostor Scams should contact the FTC immediately http://www.ftc.gov/





Recap of 2010: Credit

1 02 2011

The year set a record for property foreclosures in the U.S. The number was 2,871,891 property foreclosures. That is an astounding 23% increase from 2008.  And they said things were getting better?

Statistics, by RealtyTrac:

  • 2.23% of all housing units received at least 1 foreclosure filing in 2010
  • December recorded 257,747 foreclosure filings on US properties – a decrease of about 2% from November and 26% from last year in December.
  • Nevada ranked in as the state with the highest foreclosure rate in the country for the 4th year in a row; Arizona being the 2nd highest for the second year in a row.
  • California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Arizona made up 51% of the country’s total foreclosure activity in 2010.

Another interesting thing to point out that happened in 2010 concerns credit scores and credit card debt. The average credit scores of US consumers fell by 1 point since last year, but the credit card debt also fell by 8% to about $7,000. Credit card companies would be pleased to know that by the end of 2010,  Did US consumers begin to make payments for their debts and thus stabilize their credit scores or was more debt just written off?

It turned out that six cities in the US experienced a greater decline in credit scores than the average of the rest of the nation. For instance, Chicago, Houston, and New York City had a 2-point drop. Los Angeles and San Francisco had a 3-point drop. Philadelphia had a 4-point drop. Are these the cities with high unemployment one might wonder.

If you live in Massachusetts or New Jersey, keep up the good work. These states have the highest national credit scores, averaging 686. However, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have an average score of 650 or lower.

Additional information concerning  average consumer spending in 2010 (holding a bank account), by CreditKarma.com:

  • home mortgage loans – decline of 4% to $173,340
  • home equity – decline of 4% to $49,803
  • auto loans – increase of 4% to $15,274
  • student loans – increase of 10% to $29,016

All of these statistics points to one thing. Businesses and Consumers alike are picking and choosing who they will pay and when they will pay. If someone owes you money become the squeaky wheel! Those who sit back and wait will do just that..they will wait and wait and wait to get paid what is owed to them. Picture your customer sitting in front of their desk with a one foot high pile of bills to be paid and a 6 inch pile of money to pay . A decision is made as to who will get paid. Make sure it is you!

Stay tuned for more blogs by Butler, Robbins & White.





Seven Ways to Stand Out At Work

14 01 2011

1. Control your image. This not only includes your clothing style but your self image as well. You should always dress appropriately for your job. You should have self confidence in the work you are doing and believe that you can accomplish the job at hand.

2. Communicate Effectively. Listen actively to understand what you are being told. When you are speaking, speak clearly. Avoid negativity and pay attention to yours and others body language. Be sure to show interest.

3. Improve your leadership skills. Motivate others by giving reinforcement, teach others, give enthusiasm, and pass up leadership in areas where someone else is better suited than you.

4. Maintain Integrity and Digression. Practice ethical behavior and use your common sense. Do not take credit for others work or pretend to know something when you don’t. Do not lie you want to be trustworthy. Be discreet about what you say and who you say it to.

5. Learn From Mistakes. It is okay to admit your faults and let it go. Do not blame others. Be rational and do not make false assumptions. If you do not know something it is okay.

6. Adjust to Change. Technology and organizational functions are constantly changing. Be flexible and accepting of change.

7. Manage your Time. Planning, prioritizing, and getting organized is a good tool to stay on track and to avoid wasting time. Do not take too long to take advantage of a good opportunity.





New Years Resolution for 2011: Five Ways to improve you collections from 2010 to 2011

14 12 2010
  1. Develop an approval process to reduce the number of problem accounts. Only extend credit to those who pass your approval process. This may include getting a background and asset check before accepting them as your customer. Once you accept a customer, you may want to consider the following:
  • Possibly getting a credit card to secure payments.  Next to cash payments, this is an effective way to ensure the customer is committed to paying you.
  • Consider setting in a Progress Payment Plan for work in progress or Contract Sales.  For example, 15% at placement of order, 40% after 60 days, etc. to lighten the tightness of cash flow and lower the payment for the customer.
  • Set a credit limit for every customer.
  1. Get Deposits. In Large orders, produce to orders, and custom orders, getting a non-refundable deposit of 10-50% of the final price ensures the customers commitment to pay.
  2. Do not wait too long before you attempt to collect. The grace period past the due date should only be about 2 business days.  After that is it time to contact your customer to let them know that you are on top of things.  The longer you wait the less chance you have of collecting. Be friendly with the first reminder.  If your customer still does not pay after you continually contact them, consider hiring a debt collection agency, and FAST!
  3. Document any contact you have with your customers.  Always start a conversation with the terms of the original agreement to let your customer know that you are going to be on top of the issue until the bill is paid.
  4. Be fair and firm.  Creating templates of scripts of what you will say is a great way to be sure that you stay calm and friendly when trying to get your customer to pay.




Small Business Loans for 2011 Unlikely: Businesses turn to Collections for Cash

3 12 2010

Cash is needed in order for any business to operate.  In the past it was easier for Banks to lend money in order for the business to continue operating but since banks have tightened up giving loans to small businesses, many have been forced to max out their credit cards carrying further debt into 2011. Businesses will continue to need economic relief. The question is “where will it come from?”

 

Fico claims that banks as Lenders may not be able to meet the credit demands of small businesses seeking relief in the future.  59% of those surveyed expect small businesses to request a higher amount of credit over the next six months, but less than 37% expect lenders to increase the amount of credit given to those small businesses.

 

According to Standard & Poor’s Data, only four companies last month received leveraged loan covenant relief for a total of $883 million in leveraged loans.  This is the lowest amount of relief given since February 2008.

 

S&P expects covenant relief activity to be high in the beginning of 2011 as checks due to lender agreements from 2008 and 2009 are paid.  But as the year goes on, businesses may not be able to get relief from banks.

 

Until problems in mortgage portfolios are solved and private sector employment grows, the gap between credit demand and credit supply is unlikely to close. Along with this, the number of failing banks is increasing as well.  In 2010, 141 banks failed, making it the worst year ever, and this list is expected to continue to grow.

 

With banks unable to loan money, small businesses will seek other ways to generate cash to operate.  THERE IS A SOLUTION.  Businesses can rely on Commercial Collections professionals to recoup lost cash flow from customers who have not paid. Although times continue to be hard professional B2B collection agencies have the tools, the staff and the expertise to put your receivables on the TOP of their bills to be paid.

 

Caine & Weiner reported that out of the businesses surveyed, 57.5% plan to place accounts for collection in order to generate cash and the sooner the better. Credit and Collection managers also plan to reduce credit lines given to clients and to initiate collection sooner in order to protect their accounts receivables and generate money as banks are unable to offer financial relief in the upcoming year.

 

The bottom line is that businesses can no longer continue to be their customer’s bank and CFO’s; Controllers and Credit Managers must be more proactive in 2011. It can be argued that revenue generation is the most critical function of a company.  However, that revenue must be converted into cash.  Cash is the lifeblood of any company.  Every dollar of a company’s receivable must be managed and collected.





International Debt Collection

19 11 2010

With the growth of a global economy, more and more companies are able to advertise and sell their products and services in other countries as well as their own.  Global economies also lead to the expansion of debt collections into foreign countries. When doing business in a different country, you need experience and knowledge of the countries government and laws, trade restrictions and requirements, and the differing currencies and credit reporting criteria.

Debt Collection Agencies collecting from or for companies outside the United States need to consider a few factors:

1. Language – Working with people from different countries often presents a language barrier.  It is important to have a translator for communication.

2. Time Zones – Working across time zones presents communication challenges and time constraints regarding when you can talk with someone in the opposite time zone.

3. Foreign Partner Relationships – Gaining the cooperation and a positive attitude while working with a foreign country will build a quality relationship between the client, collection agency, and debtor.

4. Laws – It is important for a debt collection agency to understand their country’s laws and the other country’s laws and policies regarding credit, collection, and the court systems.

At Butler Robbins & White Global Revenue Recovery, we are able to collect foreign debt with our unique research.  We may be able to transfer a judgment to a foreign country. We are sensitive to the different cultures we work with and offer an extended arm, so companies are able to interconnect with the United States.

Let us help you! Email us today at RKluge@brwcollect.com





The Advantage of Using a Commercial Collection Agency to Pursue Legal Action

12 11 2010

With hard economic times, some clients are not paying the money they owe for using another businesses services or products.  Trying to collect unpaid invoices from clients can cost time and money . Left uncollected, it could lead to the deterioration of the finances of the company due to lack of cash flow. It is a smart idea to turn to a Third Party Collection Agency to collect for you and possibly pursue legal action.

 Always choose a Third Party Agency that has relationships with Legal Forwarders. It’s through these well healed relationships that Third Party Agencies can pass along Contingency Legal fees saving you much expense in hourly legal fees. Of course there are always court costs that must be paid up front but a fraction of the cost of hourly legal fees that accumulate very quickly!

 If a client does not pay debts once a collection agency starts contacting them, the agency can pursue legal action on the client’s behalf.

At Butler, Robbins & White (BRW) our Legal Liaison Department  will review all matters that can not be remedied through normal collections and help determine the feasibility of legal action on your behalf.

All aspects of Legal Collections will be managed. This includes Judgments, Litigation, and Bankruptcy.  BRW can facilitate and coordinate legal action through our worldwide attorney network, so you can keep your mind on your business and not on collecting unpaid receivables.