Bad debts are a huge problem. Bad debt collection is an even bigger problem. When a debtor has stopped making payment months or years ago, the debt is considered a bad debt. This debt can be written off and declared as a loss. The problem is that banks, lending companies, and smaller creditors need to survive.
If they keep on declaring bad debts as losses, they will keep losing money. For smaller businesses, it means valuable money that could have been used for operational expenses. More importantly, if bad debt collection doesn’t happen, debtors will assume that their creditors will just let them off the hook.
So, how can a company achieve successful bad debt collection? The key is in the correspondence with the debtor. First of all, make sure that your debt collectors follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Although you’re desperate to get your money back, you’re not allowed to use threats and insults to intimidate the debtor. You want to get paid, not get sued.
Secondly, use all possible venues for communication. You can call, email, fax, or make a personal visit. Make sure that you find a way to communicate with the debtor. Let the debtor know that you are serious about collecting that bad debt. Bad debt collection is about informing debtors that they are responsible for their debts.
The best thing you can do to communicate with your debtors is to send collection letters. In these letters, you should indicate the details of the debt – the amount, the transaction information and the original creditor. Provide all the necessary information and attach any other document that the debtor needs to verify the nature of the debt.
Why letters? The debtor may just dodge your calls, but he cannot escape the collection letter. At the same time, the debtor may be aggressive and defensive when you call. He will keep interrupting you, and you will not be able to give the information he needs to know. In addition, collection letters are valuable documents that can be used as evidence in the event that the matter goes to court.
Thirdly, give a deadline. Be strict and confident. Bad debt collection is about letting the debtor know that you want the debt settled as soon as possible. Don’t ask when it is convenient for him. Say that you want the debt settled by tomorrow. If he says he can’t pay by tomorrow, then you can negotiate. In the end, don’t fall for his excuses. You should try to set a definite deadline.
Also, you need to be respectful. If the debtor finds that you are nasty, you’re just giving him more reasons to ignore you. If you want him to pay, you have to establish a formal but cooperative relationship.
Lastly, if you have tried all of the above and you still cannot succeed in bad debt collection, contact a collection agency to help you.