Bill and account collectors locate and notify businesses or consumers with overdue payments on their credit card, mortgage, utilities, healthcare or other accounts. Collectors usually contact those with delinquent accounts by telephone or, less frequently, by letter. If a debtor relocates and does not leave forwarding information, bill and account collectors may contact credit bureaus, former neighbors, telephone companies or the post office to determine the new address. Collectors also use computer systems to find out if the debtor’s contact details have been updated on any open accounts.
After locating the individual or business, the collector will generally try to work out a payment plan or provide a referral to a debt counselor. If the debtor refuses to pay, the bill or account collector will prepare a report for the creditor, who may initiate repossession proceedings or turn the account over to an attorney.
Due to the sensitive nature of debtors’ personal financial information, collectors must adhere to the rules of the Federal Trade Commission and to state and government laws governing collection procedures.
Bill Collector Job Summary
- Employers usually require at least a high school diploma, and prefer candidates with prior customer service experience.
- The best job opportunities will go to those with related work experience.
- Job openings for bill and account collectors are predicted to grow faster than the average for all occupations over the coming years.
Work Environment for Bill and Account Collectors
Bill and account collectors typically work in office buildings and call centers. Much of their time is spent locating and contacting debtors by phone. Because many consumers become upset when confronted by collectors, the work can be stressful. Collectors need to conduct their business in a positive and polite voice, no matter how the debtor responds their call.
Collectors use a variety of automated systems and computers in their jobs. Through computerized records, they can track prior attempts to reach consumers or previous correspondence. They also tend to use hands-free headsets, which allow them to type the details of their calls during conversations. Automatic dialing enables collectors to make calls efficiently and quickly.
Most collection jobs require that collectors meet certain goals, such as a certain number of calls per hour or success rate in securing payment. Bonuses or other incentives may be paid to successful bill and account collectors. Most work a 40-hour week, which may include weekends and evenings.
Education, Training and Licensing
Most employers require that workers have a minimum of a school diploma, although many prefer candidates to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree plus relevant experience. Collectors need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as basic math abilities, and would benefit from courses that help them to hone those talents.
Bill and account collectors generally learn to perform their duties through on-the-job training from an experienced worker or supervisor. They often receive training on the specific computer software they’ll be using. Workers must be familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well as relevant state laws.
Collectors’ success rates usually increase as they become more experienced, which leads to higher commissions. Once they have proven themselves, they are often given larger accounts with more earning opportunities. Bill and account collectors can also advance to supervisors or to team leaders. Those with additional skills, training, and experience are more likely to find advancement opportunities in collections.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Bill and account collectors held about 403,100 jobs in May 2009, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of 2008, 25% of collectors were employed in business support services, about 19% worked in insurance and finance and 18% worked for social assistance providers and healthcare.
Employment of bill and account collectors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, with 19% job growth between 2008 and 2018. Those with work experience will find favorable job prospects. The BLS predicts that new jobs will be spurred by an increase in jobs in the healthcare industry, which is where the largest growth will probably occur.
The BLS reported that the median annual wage for bill and account collectors was $30,940 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $25,440 and $37,910. While the lowest earned about $21,250, the highest 10% earned upwards of $46,430.