Your ARMor

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

Results and Results
 vol. 3 issue 4
Table of Contents

UCS Gives Back Year Round

Warm Hearts in a Hard Business

IRS Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Alter Collections

UCS: All Around Town

New Year's Eve  Traditons
Dear Rick Brammer,
     Thank you for supporting Open Arms Free Clinic....We are grateful not only for your support, but also for your trust in our organization.  It is because of your generosity and goodwill that we are able to provide non-emergent health care, pharmacy, health education and referral services, all free of charge to our patients....
       Christina Dean,
        Treasurer, OAFC

Dear Jim Cox,  
     Thank you for taking the time to participate.....The Walworth County Deputy Sheriff's Association raised $9000 which will be used to support our charitable causes.....It is a wonderful feeling when people, such as yourself, open their hearts and help us out.  We thank you again for your donation, without your generosity our success would not be so grand.

Thank you,

Michael Krahn, Treasurer  

    I wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for your past donation for needy military veterans through ARMing Heroes, the collection industry's charity for military veterans.  It's stunning to see how much was raised for this worthy cause.......

Nick Bernardo, President

If someone asked you about your impression of the debt collection industry, what would you say?  If you listen to all the bad press our industry receives, you might conjure up an image of a bunch of thugs strong arming people into paying money they don’t owe. When dealing with legitimate collection agencies, this image couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of people may not realize this, but the debt collection industry is heavily regulated with an ever increasing litany of does and don’ts that legitimate agencies take very seriously. There’s a huge difference between legitimate debt collectors and criminal scam artists out there posing as bona fide debt collectors.  Unfortunately, the bad actors get all the media attention.

Legitimate agencies like ours provide their employees with a significant amount of training before they ever come in contact with consumers.  As I’ve said on multiple occasions, all of our team members are required to go through rigorous (and ongoing) training and pass certification programs to ensure compliance.

When you are an honest and principled business (or person) working in an industry which is constantly looked at in a very negative light, do you know what you find yourself doing? Overcompensating.

At UCS we overcompensate by not only being compliant with all local and federal laws, but by requiring all actions to be ethical and beyond reproach as well.  Our team members overcompensate by not only providing our clients with excellent responsive customer service, we also go out of our way to be friendly, overly nice and extremely respectful in all of our consumer interactions—no matter what! 

And it doesn’t end there. Our team members are also the most caring and giving group of people I’ve had the privilege to work with.  They are quick to open their hearts and wallets in order to help each other and those less fortunate within our communities.   I am proud to be a part of such a thoughtful and generous group.

So the next time the media’s spot light shines brightly on one of those rogue bad actors, please remember that most of us do a lot of good by ethically recovering and returning to our economy a substantial amount of money owed to creditors. We are doing the best we can and often overcompensate for their appalling behavior.

I would also like to take this time to thank our team members for another successful year and thank our clients for allowing us the opportunity to serve you. We appreciate your business!

I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

Best regards,
UCS Gives Back Year Round     

Hope Now Food Drive 
UCS has always enjoyed supporting philanthropic organizations and believes in giving back.  Through the generosity of our team members, each year UCS participates in two food-drives and adopts a family through the local Elkhorn charity HOPE NOW INC.  We also participate in the Elkhorn High School Booster's Club fundraisers, and contribute annually to the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.
A couple of years ago, United Credit Service, Inc. began an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) called Credit to the Community which gives employees the opportunity to volunteer as individuals. The mission of this program, in conjunction with our corporate mission statement, is to be a good corporate citizen by encouraging volunteerism and participation in activities intended to enhance, serve, and /or impact the quality of life in the communities in which we live, work, and thrive.  It is our mission to enrich our own (team members) lives and increase personal fulfillment through volunteerism.  And through our interactions within the communities, create goodwill towards our industry.   
Hope Now Adopt-A-Family 
Team members are provided with a bank of hours that are referred to as Volunteer Time Off hours or VTO's. When team members want to volunteer at their favorite charity, they request time off using their VTO hours and UCS pays them their current base salary for those hours donated. Each year their VTO bank of hours is refilled so they may continue their volunteering efforts year after year. They may volunteer individually or work together in groups.   
Lisa volunteering at Open Arms Free Clinic
Becky volunteering in Honduras
These VTO hours have enabled our team members to take the time off necessary to volunteer at: local church and community fundraisers, school endeavors, the breast cancer charity; After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD), Open Arms Free Clinic, and to give blood at local Red Cross blood drives to name a few. Recently, a team member went on a mission to Honduras and used VTO hours to help defray time missed from work.  
The generosity of our group is inspirational. Since the inception of the EVP, team members at UCS have selflessly donated hundreds of volunteer hours to serve others. This year we even added a new fundraiser called Change-A-Life which is a large jar in the break room which contains spare change people have donated.  To enhance donations to our Change-a-life jar our activities committee held two events: A lemon meringue pie cooking contest and a chili cook-off.  Those who wished to participate voted for their favorite pie or chili by depositing coins (or currency) next to their entry. 
Harry helping out at the Walworth County Fair
Earlier this month team members voted to determine which local charity would receive the money collected this year.  The winner: Time is Now.
   Warm Hearts in a Hard Business

Collections is a hard business.  After all other reasonable efforts have failed, our clients hire us to collect debts on their behalf using all reasonable methods at our disposal.  Our track record over the last sixty-five years is excellent, and our approach using a ‘compassionate collections’ method often yields better results than harder tactics.
Why is that?  Well, at the core of this hard business is the fact that the hard business that gets done is done by real people. Of course, computers, telephones, faxes, the internet—all sorts of mechanical devices—help support the work and make us more efficient. Yet the fact remains that it is a person, just like you or me, that works very hard to get a debtor to pay the debt.

As you have read earlier in this edition of the newsletter, United Credit Service employees give back to the communities they work in, in many, many ways.
But what about this enormous industry that UCS is part of?  Based on National Data provided by the ACA International (Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, of which UCS is a member) the industry recovers more than $55 billion dollars per year and provides more than 136,000 jobs in the United States.  The collections industry pays more than $2.6 Billion dollars in Federal and State Taxes each year as well.
In the midst of the business data, though, you may be surprised at how much this industry gives back each year as a whole through charity and community work.  Across the country the industry provided:
  • 571,600 Company Sponsored Volunteer Hours.
  •  1.9 Million Independent Volunteer Hours.
  •  $130.5 million in direct giving.                                                                                          
The ACA and its members also supports the “ARMing Heroes” initiative and created a unique “No Debts for Vets” charity campaign.

“The No Debts for Vets grant-making program started in 2010 and coincides with ARMing Heroes' annual fundraising drive held between September 11th and Veteran's Day, November 11th, of each year.  The purpose of the program is debt reduction for qualified veterans, including (in some cases) their spouse and children, with particular emphasis on meeting a financial need at a crucial time so that the veteran or family member's future changes in a positive way as a result.” (from the ARMing Vets web site).

This is the sixth year the ACA has worked with ARMing Heroes and in cooperation with them began this grant program for Veterans to help pay off debts they incurred due to service-connected disabilities, unemployment or other related factors to their Service which have caused their lives to get off track.  Since inception, the program has received donations of more than $100,000.  Last year the industry surpassed the previous record for grants available. Learn more about ARMing Heros by visiting

Hard business, but warm hearts.  United Credit Service is proud to be part of the communities we serve, and even more proud to be part of an industry that does so much to give back to those who need it most.

IRS Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Alter Collections 

One year ago this month, the IRS introduced the final guidelines for 501(r) regulations in the PPACA that non-profit hospitals must meet in order to maintain their non-profit, tax-exempt status and avoid a sizeable excise tax next year. These final guidelines directly impact almost 75% of all privately held hospitals in the United States and most of these non-profit hospitals will have to implement both process and behavior changes in order to comply with the new 501 (r) regulation or face penalties. The four main requirements on tax-exempt hospitals are:

  1. Written Financial Assistance/ Emergency Medical Care Policy
  2. Limitations on Charges
  3. Billing and Collection
  4. Community Health Needs Assessment

Some of the new regulation’s requirements are problematic, especially those pertaining to notice of financial assistance available at the hospital, and the commencement of extraordinary collection activities (ECAs).

Referring an account to a collection agency is not considered an extraordinary collection activity, normal collection activities involving calls and letters may still be accomplished during the first 120 days. ECAs cannot begin for at least 120 days following the bill drop at discharge.  If a patient has not submitted their application for financial assistance by the end of this time period and has been provided with a 30-day written notice, the hospital (and their third-party representative) may begin ECAs. It is important to coordinate the ECA’s and their timing with your collection agency.

 One of the problematic requirements in the 501(r) involves the length of time a patient has to participate in the non-profit hospital’s Financial Assistance Policy, FAP, (240 days) and when ECA’s may begin (120 days).  Following the expiration of the 120-day period referenced in the preceding paragraph, but prior to the expiration of 240 days, a patient otherwise assumed to not participate in the FAP may become eligible and participate.  Once this occurs, the collection agency must cease and reverse any ECAs taken.  This “timing issue” will not only impact ECAs, any money collected that exceeds the amount owed by the now FAP- eligible patient will have to be refunded.

It would be wise for non-profit hospitals to meet with their respective collection agencies to identify roles, responsibilities, communication lines, and system flags to be certain there is an accurate exchange of information regarding a patient’s FAP eligibility, amounts generally billed, and ECAs. Together they can put together strategies which will provide opportunities to make recoveries and gain new process efficiencies, all while being compliant with the new regulation.  

UCS: All Around Town

Where We Were:

October 8-9, 2016

AAHAM Wisconsin Revenue Cycle Co-op

Where We Are Going:

January 20-22, 2016

Mega Healthcare Conference  
             Hope to see you there!
New Year's Eve Traditions 

Do you spend your New Year's Eve watching the ball drop in Time Square. If you are looking for something else to do there are many other traditions practiced around the world that people participate in while celebrating the coming of January 1st. Here are 10 to choose from.

One of the most common is to make a new year’s resolution in order to facilitate changes that will improve your life in the coming year.

In the South, many cook up a big batch of black-eyed peas and collard greens to bring prosperity to the coming year (the peas symbolize coins and the greens currency). Sharing a kiss at midnight is another tradition practiced in the States. It is supposed to bring true love and get rid of bad memories. Banging pots and pans—making a lot of noise—is thought to chase away bad luck.  I’ve heard you are supposed to go out one door and in another to complete the ritual.

In England and in Scotland tradition says the first person who walks in your front door will set the tone for the year—blonds and redheads are thought to bring bad luck.  In order to start the year “on the right foot” the visitor's right foot must cross the threshold first.

In Denmark people throw dishes at the front doors of their friends and neighbors to wish them good luck.  The more broken dishes there are at your door, the better off you’ll be!

Filipinos associate circular dots with coins and wealth.  On New Year’s Eve the streets are full of people wearing polka dot clothing and eating round shaped foods to ensure prosperity in the coming year.

In Ecuador families make scarecrows filled with wood and newspaper and place them in front of their homes.  At midnight they set them on fire to destroy the bad things that happened during the previous year and scare away bad luck. This ensures good luck and happiness in the new year. 

The tradition of jumping into frigid water to bring in the new year began in the Netherlands and these polar bear plunges have gained popularity worldwide and are oftentimes used to raise money for charities.

The Spanish tradition of eating 12 lucky grapes—one with each strike of the bell at midnight—is thought to ward off evil and lead to a year of prosperity.

The list goes on and on,but no matter how it is celebrated there is one thing they all have in common: the wish for a better future.

United Credit Service wishes you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!
United Credit Service, Inc.
15 N. Lincoln Street, P.O. Box 740
Elkhorn, WI 53121