Your ARMor

The UCS Newsletter, providing A/R management and debt collection insights, with the commitment of maintaining the important balance between

Results and Relationships
 vol. 6 issue 1
Table of Contents

Top 10 Collection  Myths

Debt Collection: A Tough Job in a Misjudged Industry

UCS: All Around Town

Fact or Fiction?
"I've worked with United Credit Service, Inc. for over 25 years and have found their staff to be very professional and knowledgeable. UCS has provided our patients and our staff with outstanding customer service while also providing excellent collection results."
-- Director of Patient Financial Services, Large Midwestern Hospital

You have been great to work with on this unfortunate issue. 
Thank you so much for your kindness.  Please apply this check to reference# XX-XXXXXXXXX.
      Thanks so much,
               a consumer

Got the last check woot! It's like a dream hahahahaha. Thanks again Harry you guys Rock!!!! Cheers
              --a client

I want to let you know what excellent customer service I received from Diana today.  She was very helpful and took the time to explain my account balance and why I owed it.
     a consumer


I remember back in the ‘70s it was pretty much common knowledge that if your college roommate died, you’d get an automatic 4.0 G.P.A. for the semester—since you were traumatized and everything.

During the 80s I knew a guy who knew a guy who successfully sued the manufacturer of his motorhome because while driving down the highway at 55 mph he put the RV in cruise control, then left the driver’s seat to make himself a cup of coffee. The RV went off the road and crashed. He got such a huge settlement he’s set for life.

The 90s brought me an email about some poor guy who went out partying while on vacation in Bolivia. He woke up in his hotel room in an ice-filled bathtub with one of his kidneys gone. It was sold on the black market.

Urban myths have been around forever. They are usually little fictional stories that are presented as true, but most of them, like the ones told above, are completely false. Some urban myths are based on some fact, but as they are retold the stories morph or are embellished so much they take on a "truth" all of their own. Whether based on fact or fiction these stories are passed from person to person and quickly become “common knowledge”.

Some urban myths are told to be entertaining, others are cautionary tales and still others are meant to control a narrative.

Back in the day, urban myths took time to develop and disseminate, but now in our digital age these myths or legends can spread quickly through emails and social media and go viral within hours or days.

Fake news is a phenomenon closely related to the urban myth and, believe it or not, false news stories have been around for just as long. They've grown to epic proportions because of how much quicker and easier it is to get information out on the web-- to the world. Some writers of fake news say they’ve written their stories for no other reason than to see how many shares or likes they can get for their outlandish stories before anyone does some actual fact-checking.

Like urban myths, fake news stories are often believed (and spread) because they validate a person’s existing belief and provide confirmation they are correct in how they perceive the world. They are also used to legitimize, perpetuate, and reinforce fears. People often feel like it’s their duty to pass along the “helpful” information despite any evidence of truth.

Constant exposure to these inaccuracies can have major implications by influencing how a person, a group, or industry is regarded. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and “common knowledge” out there regarding the collection industry. We hear it, read it, and see it every day from patients, consumers, the media, and even clients. That’s why we are dedicating this issue to clearing up any confusion about collections and UCS.

It you have any questions about something you may or may not know or have heard about UCS or our industry, please don’t hesitate to ask. Drop us a line here.

It’s too bad more people don’t follow the infamous words of Joe Friday of Dragnet. That way we’d have “Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts!” Instead of a bunch of factoids.

    Best regards,


Over our 67 years in the collections and revenue cycle management business we have heard many myths regarding our industry. The truth is there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding debt collection and many of the debt collection processes. We thought it may be helpful to do a ‘Top Ten’ list. For simplicity sake, in this article we are referring to them as myths. Number 1 is a commonly held belief of urban legend proportion (especially in the mortgage industry). The fact (rebuttal) provided was taken from one of the credit reporting agencies (Experian) blogs posted on their website.

Myth #1: Paying off a collection will not improve your credit score, but will have the opposite effect and lower it.

Fact: There is absolutely no evidence to support this myth.

Myth #2: If a debtor wants to pay the client after the account has been turned over for collections, the client should refuse the payment.

Fact: We always encourage our clients to accept payment! Some debtors are misinformed and firmly believe they should never speak with a collection agency or would rather deal with the original creditor. If a debtor wants to pay a creditor instead of us, we say take the money. Why risk a payment in hand.  Please note: if you’ve already authorized legal action (signed a permission to sue) on this account, please call us to verify total balance owed. Also, please remember, once a payment is accepted the client should report it to us right away so we can update our records and cease collection activities if the payment was made in full. We will simply invoice for our portion of the recovery.

Myth #3: All debts must be reported to a credit reporting agency (or) medical debts cannot be reported

Fact: Credit reporting is voluntary and a creditor (client) can choose to report or not to report. Additionally, credit reporting agencies will not accept accounts if the debtor’s Social Security Number or date of birth are not supplied. There are also certain types of debt that can no longer be reported to credit reporting agencies.

Myth #3: It is better to just litigate every debt that does not pay.

Fact: Not all debts are worth litigating. We do extensive research before recommending litigation to a client. It is not enough to win a favorable judgement. The collectability of the debt is important and also taken into consideration. Sometimes a debtor simply has no assets to attach, or no job from which we can garnish a wage, so litigating would be a costly waste of time and resources.

Myth #4: Once a client agrees to allow a collection agency to pursue litigation, they have no control over whether or not to litigate a particular debtor or debt.

Fact: Before we litigate our clients must give us written permission for each debt before we will proceed. That option is always in the hands of our clients.

Myth #5: I sent you a $5.00 payment, you can’t do anything (sue) to me.

Fact: Acceptable payment parameters depend on the size of the debt and are typically set by clients. We can litigate a debt (with client approval) even if a debtor has made payments.

Myth #6: Once I send a collection agency a cease and desist letter I won’t have to worry about the debt anymore.

Fact: According to the FDCPA a debtor has the right to stop communication from a collection agency. The cease and desist letter will stop contact from a collection agency, but it will not stop collection activity. E.g. reporting the debt to the credit bureaus and/or considering the debt for litigation.

Myth #7: If remittances are not quickly forthcoming it must mean no activity is happening on the accounts which have been placed.

Fact: Some accounts take longer to get paid than others. We always continue to work every debt on a regular basis. Oftentimes it takes just plain old persistence to make contact, skip trace and research the accounts to determine whether or not litigation is appropriate. Debt collection as we do it is multi-faceted, detailed and intended to make sure we always make the maximum effort to recover our client’s money. 

Myth #8: If a debtor has a job, a house, a car, and other signs that they have the financial resources a collection agency can garnish their wages.

Fact: Every situation is different. Appearances are often deceiving. Sometimes special circumstances (e.g. paying child support) may prevent garnishment or other actions because the debtor is part of a protected class (Military) and immune from collection action. Typically if a debtor owes our client they also owe other companies as well. Even with a judgement in hand (which is necessary to garnish in some states) there may already be a garnishment attached to their wages and others in line ahead of the one owed to you. However, we always use our maximum effort to recover the debt, particularly if the debtor has assets which can be attached in the recovery process.

Myth #9: That’s my wife’s medical debt. I do not have to pay it. (or) I don’t have to pay my child’s medical bill. My divorce decree says my ex (wife or husband) has to pay it.

Fact: There is a law, The Doctrine of Necessaries for the State of Wisconsin (varies by each state/not in all states) says an obligation incurred by a spouse during marriage is presumed to be incurred in the interest of the marriage or family. This includes food, shelter and medical debt. Both spouses can be held liable for debts incurred by each other as well as their children during the course of the marriage. A divorce decree does not supersede the Doctrine of Necessaries. Both parents would still be responsible for the debt.

Myth #10: Medical debt cannot be included in a bankruptcy

Fact: A recent Harvard study reported that medical bills account for a whopping 62% of personal bankruptcies in the US. And 72 percent of those who filed because of medical debt had some sort of health insurance.

I know I said there would only be ten, but I would feel remiss if I didn't add one more. This is something we see some of our smaller clients do that could be detrimental to collection efforts.

Myth #11: Since I don’t have many accounts to send an agency it's better to stockpile them until I have a bunch to send instead of sending a couple at a time.

Fact: The older the account, the harder it is to collect. Missing payments are like missing people. The longer they are missing, the harder they are to find. Send accounts to your agency as soon as you determine they are bad debt. It could increase the collectability of the debt.

Do you have some we did not include? Let us know so we can set the record straight and share them with our other clients and partners.

Debt Collection: A Tough Job in a Misjudged Industry

There is a lot of fake news out there regarding the collection industry as a whole.   We all know what people think when they hear the words collection industry--Yikes!

As a result,  many consumers, politicians, and businesses propagate the notion that the industry is full of lawless ruffians doing the ‘dirty work’ of an untrustworthy industry. The thing is, this couldn't be further from the truth. The collection industry is, in fact, one of the most regulated industries in the U.S. with many watchdog government agencies presiding over us.There are many, many laws that not only regulate what a collector may or may not do and say; there are also laws that regulate when and how we say it.

Who are these collection people anyway?

Here at UCS we are moms, dads, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. We are doting grandparents showing off the newest pictures of our darling grandbabies and the people sitting next to you at church. We are a group of individuals who’ve come together to make a difference; a difference for our clients, the patients, consumers, and for each other.

The media coverage of our industry often pits collectors against consumers. In reality our collectors (and those of other reputable agencies) are well-trained professionals who work hard listening to and having meaningful problem-solving conversations with consumers about their unpaid bills, looking for win-win solutions for both clients and the consumers.

At UCS we know the old hard-nosed approach to collections isn't only wrong, it also isn't effective. We've always been an agency that's believed everyone should be treated with kindness, dignity and respect. It's not only the right thing to do, it also makes good financial sense.  Let's face it, if a consumer owes a debt to you chances are they owe others.  Who would you rather pay, the agency treating you with kindness and respect or the other one?

Do we really need collection agencies?

Here's the thing, the U.S. economy is built on the premise that when consumers purchase goods, services, or credit, they are expected to repay what they owe. By recovering tens of billions of dollars in delinquent consumer debt each year the collection industry plays a vital role in keeping our economy healthy. 

To measure the impact debt collection has on U.S. economy,  ACA International commissioned global professional advisory firm Ernst and Young to conduct a survey of third-party debt collectors. The results of their 2017 survey are shown below:  Check out the infographic and then click on the video.
Let's recap: In just one year, 2016, third-party debt collectors returned $67.6  billion to business partners, employed 129,262 people and paid $1.5 billion in taxes. We also donated $17.7 million to charities and  completed 521,700  volunteer hours.  Not too shabby for a vilified industry.
UCS: All Around Town

Where we were:                         Where we are going:

January 15-17, 2018                   May 9-10, 2018                

Mega Healthcare Conference     AAHAM Wisconsin Spring Conference          

                          Hope to see you soon!

One of these stories is real, the other two are fake.  Can you tell which is true?

1.  Can you say spellcheck?   There was an actual headline in a newspaper that read, Missippi's Literacy Program Shows Improvement!

2.  Jennifer Lopez and Cindy Crawford have something in common.  They both have body parts that they have had insured for millions of dollars. 

3.  If a large enough percentage of people write "Jedi" as their religion on government census forms, the government will have to recognize it as an official religion.

United Credit Service, Inc.
15 N. Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 740
Elkhorn, WI 53121