Your ARMor

The UCS Newsletter, providing A/R management and debt collection insights, with the commitment of maintaining the important balance between

Results and Relationships
 vol. 6 issue 3
Table of Contents

The Life &Times of Dr. Bill: A Collection Tale

When to Turn Over Your Bad Debt For Collection

UCS: All Around Town

Back to Basics Quiz
"I've worked with United Credit Service, Inc. for over 25 years and have found their staff to be very professional and knowledgeable. UCS has provided our patients and our staff with outstanding customer service while also providing excellent collection results."
--Director of Patient Financial Services, Large Midwestern Hospital

Hi Ruth,
I just received an awesome compliment from a consumer you were on the phone with. She said you were such a pleasant and nice person to deal with. She said you really listened to her and her situation and were willing to work with her. She has been sent to collections a few times in her 70+ years and she has never dealt with someone as nice as you.
Awesome Job!!

I would like to say BIG THANK YOU to one of your associates - Krys for going above and beyond helping the customer.  I greatly appreciate everything that Krys has done for me to eliminate my debt in a timely manner.
Thank you, 
        --a consumer

You have been great to work with on this unfortunate issue. 
Thank you so much for your kindness.  Please apply this check to reference# XX-XXXXXXXXX.
      Thanks so much,
               a consumer

Summer is over and school is back in full force. Boy does time fly. I can easily remember when my kids were little and all the excitement that went with starting a new school year. Now it’s my grandchildren who are in school. The oldest, Henry, is in 2nd grade. Soon-to-be five-year-old, Edie, is in her second year of pre-school and even little Nathaniel has started going part-time. Since he’s so young, a two-year-old, he is learning the basics: separating from his family, getting along with others and listening to the teacher. It all starts with a good foundation—the fundamentals.

The same is true if you want to be successful at anything. If I were to list the top three fundamentals of collections they would include the following:

1. Customer (Patient) Information: I can’t stress this enough, more is better. Get as much information as you can about the person and if applicable their spouse. This includes not only their name and address but all phone numbers: (home, cell, and work) their date of birth, Social Security number, and all information about their place of employment including address and phone number. Believe me, getting all this information early in the relationship is way easier than chasing it down once you realize they aren’t paying. Also, please remember to update often.

2. Payment and Collection Policy: Establish a clear payment and collection policy that determines when the payment is due, when it will be considered delinquent and how you will respond if it becomes delinquent. Will you be sending letters, making phone calls, both? If accounts remain delinquent when will it be considered bad debt? Will you write-off the amount or will it be sent to a third-party collection agency? When would these actions take place? After you establish these policies make sure employees know and understand all policies. (E.g. will they be expected to collect co-pays before each visit?)

3. Well-written Financial Agreement: A well-written Financial Agreement takes your policies to the next level by spelling everything out and more: Would you consider litigation as a way to collect? And if it becomes necessary will your customers be liable for reasonable attorney fees? Having a written—and signed—financial agreement in place will not only set expectations for patients (customers) and employees it can also be a binding contract used in court to support the rights and responsibilities of both parties in the transaction. That’s why it is important to have a lawyer review your agreement before it might be used in court. Sometimes legalese sounds one way to us, but is interpreted much differently in a court room.

The articles in this newsletter are written to provide you with a little insight into the basics of third-party collections. The first one describes the processes we employ in our Core-Collect program. Since each debt takes its own path we thought it might be entertaining (as well as informative) to follow a single account as it travels through our fundamental collection program. The second article talks about the timing of when to place accounts for collection.

If you are a current client, Thank you. We appreciate your business. Hopefully you can use this information as a refresher. If you are a prospective client, we’d love the opportunity to earn your business.

We are here to help!

Best regards,

The Life and Times of Dr. Bill:
A Collection Tale

Hi, I’m Doctor Bill. But my friends just call me Bill. I was born at a physician’s office. The day I was printed and sent out I felt so vital and optimistic. But that quickly changed when the patient grabbed me from the mailbox and threw me in a drawer. There were others like me in there, yet I felt alone and insignificant. It was awful.

Periodically someone from the office would call and ask about me, but it never did any good. There were a couple of times I felt hopeful when the guy opened the drawer and riffled through us. But no matter how important I tried to look he never picked me. It was discouraging. Then one day everything changed—I was reprinted and sent off to United Credit Service for collection in their Core-Collect program. This is where my story really begins:

I arrived, along with some of my buddies on a Monday morning. Boy is this place bustling. Since I was sent to the agency via snail mail I had to be manually loaded into their CRM system. Lots of us arrived that day, but Tanya, the first smiling face I saw, made us all feel welcome right away. I couldn’t believe how quickly and accurately she was able to input everyone’s information into the system. I noticed not all new business is put into the system manually. Larger clients send theirs over electronically, they can be loaded with a touch of a button. How cool is that?

Once in the system I was immediately scrubbed (for bankruptcy, probate and cell phone). At first I was offended, but found out it wasn’t personal. Every account is scrubbed when loaded. We are all also scrubbed every single day! These guys are sticklers for the rules and don’t want to miss a thing!

Sadly, not everyone made it through the scrubbing. Those who didn’t were quickly separated and sent elsewhere in the system. I was one of the lucky ones. After my scrubbing a letter called the 1st Demand, or Debt Validation was generated and scheduled to go out to the patient (guarantor) the very next day. The letter said I’d been referred by the creditor to UCS for collection and asked that I be paid. It is also sent to allow them the opportunity to dispute the debt (within 30 days) if it’s not theirs. But don’t worry, I’m legit. (The physician’s office wisely sent an itemized statement along with me so I can easily be validated if necessary.)

After I was loaded into the system my listing paperwork (and all other documents received) was given to another nice lady who scanned it into the electronic document storage system for easy efficient retrieval by team members at their personal work stations.

I was sent to the collection floor for the first time seven days after the Debt Validation letter was mailed. This is to ensure the guarantor isn’t caught by surprise when the first call comes in.

I admit I felt anxious when I first got to the floor; I was worried that all that money-talk would be awkward. But collectors here are so well-trained and nice. The conversations I overheard weren’t uncomfortable at all: Some calls resulted in payment in full and others ended with agreed upon payment plans based on parameters set by clients or the agency. The collectors here work hard coming up with win-win solutions for both creditors and the debtors.

Newly placed accounts like me are kept in new business status for about 45 days or until the collector makes contact. I show up on a collector’s call queue once a week. If no actual contact is made during that time another letter generates and is sent out 35 days after the first one.

UCS uses the latest technology: I thought it was so cool when they dropped messages into my patient’s cellphone voicemail without actually calling him. Typically this generates a lot of calls, but not from my guy.

Every time I made it to the front of the line on my collector’s queue I’d hold my breath and cross my fingers willing him to answer. And even though she’d call all available numbers (cell, home, and work) no one answered. It was frustrating because so many of the other accounts I’d met along the way were already paid off—even some that came in after me. Augh! I was convinced the collector could get me paid if only the patient would answer the phone. I’d even seen her collect from people who didn’t think they had enough money to pay. As it turns out many people have difficulty managing their money. Sometimes they just need a little help organizing and prioritizing. The CRM used here has a nifty Financial Profile screen available to collectors to help both the debtor and collector understand how much money is coming in, going out, and what’s left to pay down debt. Financial counseling is really a big part of the job.

After the 60 day mark (and 180 days after last transaction date) I was reported to the credit bureaus*. (Good thing UCS has my patient’s Social Security number and DOB. They had to have at least one of these or I couldn’t have been reported!) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people call in to pay off their debt after they saw it on their credit report. It’s really a great tool used to get people to pay. I was hoping that after I was reported the patient would call in and pay me. But sadly he did not.

Then one day after my morning scrubbing I noticed I was back in the top position to be called. And guess what? Surprise! The patient answered the phone. Unfortunately my joy was short lived. Not only didn’t he pay but he also told the collector to stop contact. And you know what? When an agency is asked to stop contact the law requires them to stop! The collector acknowledged and smart-coded his request into the system. I was devastated. I thought it was over until I found out that stopping contact does not stop the collection process--Yay!

My routine changed after that. I still had my morning scrubbing, but it was followed by a whole checklist of activities: The collector searched the system to see if there were any previous legal actions on the patient that resulted in payment. Employment was verified, same with property ownership. They did a search on Wisconsin’s Consolidated Court Automated Programs (CCAP) and searched TLO (TransUnion) for non-residential property, bankruptcy, and/or  any out-of-state judgments. They confirmed all spousal information and checked to see if he either paid or received child support. Then they verified to make sure he was not active-duty military and other stuff I can’t even remember. My account’s been so busy, I’m out of breath.

The next letter sent was to the physician’s office where I was born. It was a Permission to Sue request. They signed and returned it promptly. Now I’m being prepped for legal. I heard  I’m getting a new suit. (I wonder if that’s because I’ll be meeting one of the attorneys soon.) Anyway, the people working with me here say it will help me get paid. They’ve spent so much time and money on it, I hope it fits:-) 

I can't wait to tell you what happens next!

*Not all accounts can be reported to the credit bureaus. Reporting time frames differ depending on type of debt or client's preference.

When to Turn Over Your Bad Debt

We are asked this question a lot, especially by our new clients. There really is, though, no magic time to turn over a debt to us.

However, the best short answer is the sooner the better as the old adage is quite true: “The older they are the farther they go.” Meaning, letting bad debts age longer than necessary makes the debt harder to collect, the debtor harder to find, and delay the payment of a debt unnecessarily.

In fact, the following chart shows very well the direct relationship between the age of a debt and the likelihood that a debt will be recovered promptly.

Given this information, why would someone delay turning over a debt to us?

The reasons are many, but certainly include the desire to get the debt paid without having to take the next step of turning it over to us for more aggressive action.

Sometimes not turning over a debt is simply a dogged determination that more concerted action by the client will prevail when, in fact, valuable resources are being expended when a professional debt collector may expedite payment as we are specialists in the field.

Our sixty-seven years of experience is a testament to our ability to put our professionalism and effective debt collection tools to work for our long-valued clients.

That said, as a rule of thumb, we always suggest that a debt be turned over to us no later than 90 days after the initial payment is in arrears.

Keep in mind we will always take a debt from our clients, regardless of age, and do our very best to collect on it. Timeliness simply helps put our tools to work on prompt debt recovery sooner than later.

There are times when turning a debt over to us before 90 days makes sense, too. Here are some warning signs that a debt should be turned over to us sooner than later:

  • When communication with the customer ceases. That is, their phone is disconnected, invoices are returned as undeliverable, or the customer’s health insurer reports that their insurance has been cancelled. These should be turned over to us right away so we can begin the process of tracing the whereabouts of the customer.
  • New customers do not respond to your first attempt to collect the debt. When you do not have a credit history, or other history of transactions, with the customer, there is a greater chance they will refuse to pay or never intended to.
  • You’ve agreed to a payment plan, but the customer does not follow through. Customers who still won’t pay after you’ve agreed to meet them halfway with a payment plan are unlikely to change their minds.
  • A customer completely denies responsibility for the debt. Without a collection agency, these debts are rarely recovered.
  • The customer makes unfounded complaints about your business, product or service as an excuse not to pay. Most of the time, these complaints are just an excuse to get out of paying the debt.
  • The customer is going through a serious personal situation such as a divorce or illness. Often, one spouse blames the other for the debt, or there are other circumstances that are cited to delay payment. A collection agency will be able to get to the bottom of who is responsible and initiate compassionate and intelligent action.

There are other benefits to turning debts over to us for collection as soon as possible:

  • Our clients save on the internal costs related to trying to collect the debt themselves.
  • Staff time, which is unnecessarily spent on collection efforts, can be used more productively pursuing other activities.
  • The time and postage necessary to send endless statements and letters can be eliminated by engaging United Credit Service’s proven collection tools and methods.

Time indeed is money. Let us get yours back as soon as possible by turning your debts over to us on a timely basis!


UCS: All Around Town

    Hope to see you soon!
2018 Fall Conference
November 15-16th
2nd Street South
200 Harborview Plaza
Back to Basics Quiz

Do you know the answers to this elementary school quiz?

1. What color do you get from mixing red and blue? (a, brown b, purple, c, green d, orange) 
2. What essential element do trees provide? (a,carbon b, oxygen c, potassium d, Chloride)
3. Which ocean is the largest? (a, Atlantic b, Pacific c, Indian d, Arctic)
4. Which planet in our solar system is the largest? (a, Earth b, Saturn c, Jupiter, d, Uranus)
5. How many continents are there? (a, 50 b, 7 c, 206 d, 195)
6. Is the sun a star or a planet? (a, star b, planet )
7. What year was Pearl Harbor bombed? ( a,1914  b, 1929 c,1941 d, 1969)
8. What is the antonym of the word true?  (a, correct b, accurate c, false d, unfake)

answers: 1 b, 2 b, 3 b, 4 c, 5 b, 6 a, 7 c, 8 c

United Credit Service, Inc.
15 N. Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 740
Elkhorn, WI 53121