Debt collectors compile debt owned to the organisation or third parties, mostly in cases when the debt is past its due date.
Debt collectors typically do the following:
- Keep track of assigned accounts to identify outstanding debts
- Plan course of action to recover outstanding payments
- Locate and contact debtors to inquire of their payment status
- Negotiate payoff deadlines or payment plans
- Handle questions or complaints
- Investigate and resolve discrepancies
- Create trust relationships with debtors when possible to avoid future issues
- Update account status and database regularly
- Alert superiors of debtors unwilling or unable to pay when necessary
- Comply with requirements when legal action is unavoidable
The following job titles also refer to debt collector:
credit control agent
field debt collector
bill and account recovery agent
assistant debt collector
bill and account collector
senior debt collector
debt collection officer
debt recovery agent
debt collection agent
debt collection operative
Debt collectors typically work in an office environment, although some may work from home. They typically work regular business hours, although they may be required to work evenings or weekends to reach debtors who are unavailable during the day.
Debt collectors may work for a collection agency or be self-employed. Collection agencies typically provide training to new employees, which may last a few weeks to a few months. After training, debt collectors typically work under the supervision of a manager and are given a list of debtors to contact. They may work independently or as part of a team.
Entry-level debt collectors need a minimum of a high school diploma. Some employers prefer a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business or finance. Relevant coursework includes consumer behavior, accounting, economics, business law and finance.
Most debt collectors receive on-the-job training from their employer. This training may include instruction on the company’s policies and procedures, as well as the software and technology they use.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Debt collector is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Debt collector career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to debt collector.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of debt collector. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of debt collector with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of debt collector.
- Debt collection techniques: The techniques and principles used to collect overdue debt from customers.
- Debt classification: The different classifications of debt such as public and publicly guaranteed debt, private non-guaranteed credits, central bank deposits, etc.
- Debt systems: The processes needed to obtain goods or services before payment and when a sum of money is owed or overdue.
- Credit control processes: The various techniques and procedures applied to ensure that credit is given to the suitable customers and that they pay on time.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of debt collector.
- Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
- Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
- Maintain client debt records: preserve a list with the debt records of clients and update it regularly
- Keep task records: Organise and classify records of prepared reports and correspondence related to the performed work and progress records of tasks.
- Facilitate official agreement: Facilitate an official agreement between two disputing parties, ensuring that both parties agree on the resolution which has been decided on, as well as writing the necessary documents and ensuring both parties sign it.
- Assess customers: Quickly compose a picture of a customers’ personal circumstances, needs and preferences.
- Calculate debt costs: Calculate the amount of money owed and apply basic numeracy principles to do so.
- Use communication techniques: Apply techniques of communication which allow interlocutors to better understand each other and communicate accurately in the transmission of messages.
- Pose questions referring to documents: Revise and formulate questions in regards to documents in general. Investigate about the completeness, confidentiality measures, style of the document, and specific instructions to handle documents.
- Handle conflicts: Mediate in conflicts and tense situations by acting between parties, such as service users, important others like families, and institutions, striving to effect an agreement, reconciliate, and resolve problems.
- Perform debt investigation: Use research techniques and tracing strategies to identify overdue payment arrangements and address them
- Enforce customer’s debt repayment: Monitor customers to pay all debts and amounts due; negotiate return of merchandise.
- Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
- Show diplomacy: Deal with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
- Secure sensitive customer’s information: Select and apply security measures and regulations related to sensitive customer information with the aim of protecting their privacy.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of debt collector. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Consumer protection: The current legislation applicable in relation to the rights of consumers in the marketplace.
- Organisational structure: Framework of the different departments within the organisation, as well its people, their roles and responsibilities.
- Office software: The characteristics and functioning of software programs for office tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, email and database.
- Product comprehension: The offered products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
- Law of obligation: The legal procedures that regulate the rights and duties arising between individuals.
- Civil process order: The legal procedures and standards that courts follow in civil lawsuits.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of debt collector. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
- Counsel clients: Assist and guide clients to overcome their personal, social, or psychological issues.
- Present reports: Display results, statistics and conclusions to an audience in a transparent and straightforward way.
ISCO group and title
4214 – Debt-collectors and related workers
- Debt collector – ESCO
- Debt Collector Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
- Debt Collector job description template – Workable
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