By Emily Finstuen
Using E-Mail in the Collection Process
Implementing a responsible e-mail program can boost consumer contacts
Members of the credit and collection industry are always earching for new and
efficient ways to connect with consumers.
Technological advancements have
provided various new tools to
communicate with consumers in ways
more convenient for the consumer and
more efficient for the industry. Mobile
phones, text messaging and e-mail offer
unprecedented access to consumers, but
with access, questions arise about the
rules of the road.
“E-mail is capable of generating
significant revenue, reduced costs and
likely will confer real efficiencies,” said
Andrew Beato, Esq., ACA’s regulatory
counsel and partner of Stein, Mitchell
and Muse, LLP, in Washington, D.C.
Beato and John Bedard Jr., Esq.,
managing partner of Bedard Law Group,
PC, in Duluth, Ga., presented an ACA-hosted teleseminar on the benefits and
risks involved in using e-mail to collect
Both presenters believe e-mail
programs will become such an essential
part of the credit and collection industry
that the failure to have a program in
place will be a handicap, preventing
companies from getting and keeping
When creating contracts, many
creditors are now asking for e-mail
addresses, just as they did with telephone
numbers in the past. They’re also looking
for the consumer’s consent to be
contacted at that e-mail address. Beato
believes most creditor contracts will
include these two provisions within the
next five years.
E-mail is thought by many to be the
preferred and dominant method of
communicating with consumers,
especially consumers under the age of 50.
32 I November 2009 Collector
The Pew Internet and American Life
Project found 91 percent of Internet
users between the ages of 18 and 64 send
or receive e-mail. It also found 88
percent of adults in the United States
have personal e-mail accounts.
E-mail has unique communication
benefits to the collection process. E-mails are trackable, with mechanisms in
place to verify delivery. Companies can
also send them at predetermined times.
“That is something we can’t say about
the U.S. mail service,” Beato said.
E-mail interaction with consumers
can also border on real-time. These
dynamic communications with a
consumer are memorialized in writing
and effectively become an interactive
experience that helps build a profile of
Profiling can determine when the
consumers consistently respond to e-mails. If the e-mail address is a personal
account, is the person accessing it from
home? That knowledge could increase
the likelihood of phone contact if you
know the person is responding to an e-mail.
When implementing an e-mail
communication program, companies
must first consider the software and
“There are really two types of
animals here,” Bedard said. “There are
Bringing the Collection Process Online
Many collection agencies are using online collection sites to reach consumers. Before
proceeding, consider the following issues:
1. Use a separate Web site for collection.
2. On the collection site, include state and federal disclosures, the Mini-Miranda,
hours of operation, address, a toll-free number, permit/license numbers, licensing
language and other state requirements.
3. Include a redirect notice, advising consumers when they leave your site.
4. Don’t use harassing domain names, such as www.pay-up-now.com.
5. Don’t include e-mail addresses of employees on the Web site unless they will
check their e-mail at least daily and treat it as written communication.
6. Include terms and conditions of use on your site, which may include consents and
disclosures such as:
• My account is not in dispute.
• I have/have not previously requested verification of my account.
• I am not represented by counsel.
• I am not a petitioner in any pending bankruptcy petition.
• This account has not been discharged in bankruptcy.