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Collection Agencies: What Do They Do?

Collection agencies are businesses that collect past-due bills and accounts receivable for other persons or businesses in exchange for a fee. Collection agencies charge for their services one of three ways:

1) A flat fee.

2) A percentage of what is collected.

3) Through a direct sale of the delinquent accounts.

If you are trying to collect a small or medium sized debt, using collection agencies that charge a flat fee are probably your best option - collection agencies that charge a flat fee work just as hard to collect a small debt as they do to collect a large debt.

If you have just a few large unpaid receivables, working with collection agencies that charge a percent of the total debt collected is a wise choice. (usually 25 to 50 percent).

The third option, selling your uncollected receivables at a discount to certain collection agencies is advisable only if you have a very large amount of debt - usually $1 million or more. The selling price is typically a minuscule 2 to 8 cents on the dollar.

Most collection agencies use one of three tactics to collect debt:

1) Letters.

2) Direct contact via the telephone.

3) Litigation.

Typically, collection agencies begin the collection process by sending a series of notification letters, often called demand letters. The final notification letter generally warns the debt dodger that if the past-due account is not paid by a certain date, his or her name or company will passed on to more intensive collections.

Many collection agencies also pay their staff to phone the debtor directly. This direct contact is most useful in turning up the heat on debtors who have identified themselves as having no intention to pay their bill.

Litigation - in small claims court or a full-scale courtroom - is a final option.

Besides sending out letters and making phone calls, some collection agencies also specialize in locating debtors who can no longer be reached at the address or phone number listed on their accounts. To determine whether certain collection agencies offer this service, ask them about their "skip tracing" abilities.

Collection Agency Outsourcing - Outsourcing accounts receivable to a professional collection agency has become a popular alternative to attempting to collect receivables in-house.

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