Ask a Debt Collector About Being a Debt Collector

I did not plan to do this job; it’s not related to my degree and I thought it would feel scuzzy. Now I’ve settled in as a career collector, and have learned a ton from it.

First things first: DO you feel scuzzy about your job?

Most days: No, surprisingly. My debtors mostly owe for things like jewelry, store credit cards, or car accidents caused by their own carelessness. I have few qualms about holding people accountable for their own irresponsibility. However, if a funeral home ever contracted with my office, I would probably cry before/during/after every call.

Debt can legitimately happen to good people, and I do feel bad when I have to call on those good people — or worse, send the sheriff to their doorstep. But as long as people make the effort to make good on their debts, I can work with them, and not against them. That helps ward off the yucky feelings.

Are you like Dog the Bounty Hunter?

I’m not. My hair is not nearly as long, for one thing. And I stay at my desk all day, except to walk to the copier and the fridge. My firm works closely with a law firm, so we don’t go take people’s stuff if they don’t pay up; we just send the courts and the sheriffs after them.

What are some crazy stories you’ve heard? Like “dog ate my homework” but to the nth power?

I talked to a woman last week who claimed her payment got lost in the mail. That’s not too crazy, except that I keep notes on every call and that was the fourth consecutive month she had used that excuse! Another woman routinely claims that her relatives died, and last time I counted, she had five recently deceased grandmothers.

For the most part, people’s reasons for not paying are pretty pedestrian. Most people just forget, and I would rather hear a debtor say that honestly rather than feed me some lie.  Read More