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How debt collectors are modernizing their tactics -- II

In a post last week, we started discussing how consumers should be aware that debt collection companies are finally starting to evolve from a technological perspective, jettisoning antiquated tactics and deploying everything from avatars to ringless voicemails.

We also discussed how this newfound tech savvy is causing some consternation among consumer advocates, many of whom are calling these new approaches questionable at best. In today's post, we'll continue exploring the high-tech tactics gaining popularity among debt collectors.

Speech analytics      

This is a rather fascinating piece of technology, as it is designed to not just monitor the emotional status of borrowers, but also enhance the performance of debt collectors.

Specifically, software equipped with language-recognition features runs during phone conversations between collection agents and borrowers, recognizing everything from confrontations and curses to long silences and conversational cues.

A collection agent's supervisor receives a prompt when the software detects that a conversation is going poorly, allowing them to proceed with a host of options from offering suggestions to the agent that are unheard by the borrower to actually taking command of the call.

The three S's

Without a doubt, the technological tactics raising the biggest concerns among consumer advocates are skip tracing, spoofing and scrubbing:

  • Skip tracing: This involves debt collectors combing through databases -- even social media sites -- in an attempt to uncover people who owe money. Some have raised real concerns about privacy violations.
  • Spoofing: In a ploy to get people to answer calls, debt collectors will insert local area codes into caller ID displays. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has expressed an intention to ban this practice.
  • Scrubbing: Anxious to avoid being dragged into litigation, debt collectors comb through their lists of debtors and purposefully remove those borrowers identified as being potentially litigious.  

As always, the purpose in sharing this information is to help level the playing field for consumers and reinforce the importance of considering a discussion with a skilled legal professional if they've endured sustained harassment from debt collectors.

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