Bill and account collectors try to recover payment on overdue bills.
What they do
Bill and account collectors negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier.
Bill and account collectors typically do the following:
- Find consumers and businesses who have overdue bills
- Track down consumers who have an out-of-date address by using the Internet, post office, credit bureaus, or neighbors—a process called “skip tracing”
- Inform debtors that they have an overdue bill and try to negotiate a payment
- Explain the terms of sale or contract with the debtor, when necessary
- Learn the reasons for the overdue bills, which can help with the negotiations
- Offer credit advice or refer a consumer to a debt counselor, when appropriate
Bill and account collectors generally contact debtors by phone, although sometimes they do so by mail. They use computer systems to update contact information and record past collection attempts with a particular debtor. Keeping these records can help collectors with future negotiations.
The main job of bill and account collectors is finding a solution that is acceptable to the debtor and maximizes payment to the creditor. Listening to the debtor and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a solution.
After the collector and debtor agree on a repayment plan, the collector regularly checks to ensure that the debtor pays on time. If the debtor does not pay, the collector submits a statement to the creditor, who can take legal action. In extreme cases, this legal action may include taking back goods or disconnecting service.
Collectors must follow federal and state laws that govern debt collection. These laws require that collectors make sure they are talking with the debtor before announcing that the purpose of the call is to collect a debt. A collector also must give a statement, called “mini-Miranda,” which informs the account holder that they are speaking with a bill or debt collector.
Many collectors work in a call center for a third-party collection agency rather than the original creditor. In all industries, they spend most of their time on the phone tracking down or negotiating with debtors. They also use computers and databases to update information and record the results of their calls.
Collectors’ work can be stressful because some people become angry and confrontational when pressed about their debts. Collectors often face resistance while trying to do their job duties. Successful collectors must face regular rejection and still be ready to make the next call in a polite and positive voice. Fortunately, some consumers appreciate help in resolving their outstanding debts and can be quite grateful.
How to become a Bill and Account Collector
Collectors usually must have a high school diploma. A few months of on-the-job training is common.
Most bill and account collectors are required to have a high school diploma, although some employers prefer applicants who have taken some college courses. Communications, accounting, and basic computer courses are examples of classes that are helpful for entering this occupation.
Collectors usually receive on-the-job training after being hired. Training includes learning how to use computer software, and instruction on federal debt-collection laws (in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and state debt-collection regulations. Collectors also may be trained in negotiation techniques.
The median annual wage for bill and account collectors was $37,000 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,860.
Employment of bill and account collectors is projected to decline 6 percent from 2019 to 2029.
The increasing efficiency of collectors is expected to reduce demand for this occupation. New software and automated calling systems should increase productivity and allow collectors to handle more accounts. This will allow more collections work to be done with fewer employees.
Similar Job Titles
Account Representative, Accounts Receivable Specialist (AR Specialist), Collection Agent, Collection Specialist, Collector, Credit Clerk, Debt Collector, Patient Access Specialist, Patient Account Representative, Telephone Collector
License Clerk, Credit Checker, Customer Service Representative, Interviews (Except Eligibility and Loan), Receptionists and Information Clerk
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- ACA International - ACA brings together third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates, representing more than 230,000 industry employees. ACA establishes ethical standards, produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers.
- Healthcare Financial Management Association - This organization’s mission is to lead the financial management of health care.
Magazines and Publications
The art of negotiation is a critical skill for bill and account collectors… who develop agreements with people in debt to repay their creditors… on terms both parties can live with. Bill and account collectors generally spend most of their time on the phone, tracking down or negotiating with debtors. Listening, and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a successful solution. Collectors follow federal and state laws, and must document their calling using computers and databases. Bill and account collectors follow up to ensure payments are actually made… if not, they let the creditor know, which may result in legal action. Collectors usually have the added pressure of meeting calling goals and success rates. Many bill and account collectors work in call centers for collection agencies although positions are available in healthcare, social assistance agencies, and other industries. Collectors face resistance, rejection, anger, and desperation from the people they negotiate with, and must still make their next call with a polite, positive tone and attitude. Fortunately, some consumers appreciate help in resolving their outstanding debts and can be quite grateful. Most bill and account collectors work full time… often putting in evening and weekend hours to reach people at home. Positions generally require a high school diploma, and on-the-job training is provided.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org