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 4
Table of Contents

UCS Launches New Technological Advance-ments  

Utilizing the Latest Technologies Can Improve Your Business, But Only When Adhering to Pertinent Laws

Did You Know?  

New Year's Eve  Traditions
"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 

Hi Ruth,
I just received an awesome compliment from a consumer you were on the phone with.  She said you were such a pleasant and nice person to deal with.  She said you really listened to her and her situation and were willing to work with her.  She has been sent to collections a few times in the 70+ years and she has never dealt with someone as nice as you.

Awesome Job!!


I would like to say BIG THANK YOU to one of your associates--Krys for going above and beyond helping the customer.  I greatly appreciate everything that Krys has done for me to eliminate my debt in a timely manner.

    --a consumer

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

Thanks so much,
       -- a consumer

People have mixed emotions when it comes to technology. I’ve read the results of many surveys and they all pretty much say the same thing: We love it and we hate it. It’s not too surprising that we love it when we use it (81 percent of those surveyed believe the internet and technology have improved their lives) but feel differently when other people do (51 percent believe the internet and social media negatively impacts society). There are those who worry that technology is eliminating jobs (it is) and those who will tell you how it actually empowers our workforce and not only creates new jobs, but an entire new industry as well (also true).

A few years ago it was easy to guess which side of the World Wide Web you were on depending on your age, but that’s changing. Back in 2013 only 18 percent of seniors (age 65 or older) owned smartphones. In 2015 that number climbed to 30 percent and is now up to 46 percent. Acceptance and usage rates also vary depending on household income.

There are also digital gaps between urban and rural areas. But as time goes on the gap gets smaller as more and more of us become reliant on the internet for all aspects of our lives.

Personally I enjoy the ease of looking up information, purchasing gifts and visiting with my grandchildren who live over a thousand miles away. We were unable to be with our daughter and her family on Christmas, but were able to video-chat on Christmas morning and open our gifts together. It’s such a remarkable advancement--making it possible for us to hear and see the squeals of delight as our grandkids saw what Santa brought for them this year.

A person’s comfort level with the internet for their professional and personal use depends on the amount of trust they have for technology and their concerns for privacy related to it.

Here at UCS, we conduct quite a bit of business online and our high level of comfort comes from having strict policies and procedures in place as well as using a third -party IT company that watches our cyber-back 24/7.

Change is inevitable and it’s all about being equipped for whatever comes our way. One of my favorite quotes regarding preparing kids for the future is by Richard Rily, the former US Secretary of Education. It goes something like this:

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t be invented, in order to solve problems we don’t’ even know are problems yet.”

To stay relevant there is only direction to go and that’s forward. Let’s all move in that direction together.

    Best regards,

     UCS Launches New Technological Advancements
by Rick Brammer   

Innovation – we must never stop trying to find creative solutions, products or services that create value for the Company or our clients  -   United Credit Service, Inc. guiding principle.

This guiding principle encompasses all aspects of our business and can take many forms. Today I want to focus on technical innovation, something that has been a trademark of UCS since we became one of the first collection agencies in Wisconsin to computerize our business.

Searching for technical innovation can be overwhelming in today’s world and it is important to do so with clear objectives in mind. For UCS the objectives include: technology that will allow us to become more efficient or effective, is easier for clients to work with us, and technology that will provide debtors with options that will make it easier for them to pay their debt(s).

With these objectives in mind we are pleased to announce two new applications. The first is directed at the debtor—making it easier for them to pay. Right now UCS already has a web-based payment portal where debtors can make a payment, but this new application will allow the debtor (once they create a login and verify their identity)  to view accounts they owe and any payment plans they already have established, message us, or make a payment. Once this application is rolled out in its entirety payment options will include:

  • Payment in full
  • Partial payment – minimum payment amounts are required
  • Establish Payment Plan – when option is selected the consumer will be provided a number of options based on client or agency requirements. For example options will include, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly payment options, number of payments and amount. Consumers may also select to pay using ACH, credit card, debit card or to mail in payments.
  • Settlement – this option will allow the consumer to reach an agreement to settle the debt in full, at a negotiated amount. The settlement amount (percentage) is based on parameters and business rules within the system and can be different for individual clients. The consumer is required to pay the full settlement amount the same day they receive the offer. 

The added payment options will allow consumers additional payment flexibility and can, if desired, eliminate the need to communicate directly with an agent, and can be accessed anytime 24/7. Of course, those who wish to speak with a live agent will always have that option during regular business hours.

The second new technological innovation is aimed at internal efficiency. As mentioned above, one of the payment options for consumers is establishing a recurring payment plan. In addition to being able to do this on the payment site consumers can do so while speaking to an agent. The set up of a recurring plan requires the consumer to complete a form with banking information and a signature. This is mandated by Regulation E and NACHA operating rules (National Automated Clearing House Association an agency responsible for establishing the standards and rules followed by financial institutions for transferring payments). To set-up the recurring payment plan the agent enters the payment arrangement terms into our CRM system and requests the required documents be mailed to the consumer. The consumer receives, completes, and then mails the required forms back to us. Unfortunately, best case scenario, this can take several days. Sometimes it takes longer for the consumer to return the forms and in some cases we have to contact them to determine if they still want to proceed with the plan. The new technology we are introducing is an electronic signature application which will allow the agent to complete the necessary forms and email or text them to the consumer while still on the phone, in compliance with the E-Signature Act. The consumer can respond right then and there, completing the process. This will save days going back and forth, the cost of printing and mailing forms, and the additional follow-up sometimes required, resulting in an extremely more efficient process.

UCS is excited to add these two new technologies to our collections toolbox and continuing our legacy of innovation.

Utilizing the Latest Technologies Can Improve Your Business, But Only When Adhering To All Pertinent Laws 

What does it take to be successful in life? Connections. It’s true in our personal lives and also in our professional. Believe me when I say it’s especially true in the collections industry. Typically when a consumer owes a debt to one of our clients, they owe other creditors as well. And when they have several creditors or collection agencies calling for payment who do you think they will pay first? The one they connect with—the one they like.

We've written about this before, but it bears repeating: if you have a one-size-fits-all collection strategy you might find yourself connecting with only a portion of the consumers who owe you.  This might leave quite a bit of unpaid revenue on the table. To be more successful, try to tailor your tactics and techniques to your debtor audience.

One of the factors we take into consideration when trying to determine which approach to use is age. A tactic that works great with one age group won’t necessarily work well with another. Understanding the unique characteristics of each consumer group can help make stronger and more productive connections. We all want that, right?

For example: using traditional collection strategies (like phone calls) on Gen-Xers or millennials oftentimes won’t be as successful as it would be when using on baby boomers. Better connections with these tech-savvy consumers are made by communicating with them through more up-to-date technologies.

In order to communicate and connect with these younger generations (or anyone who likes to utilize texting and emails) it is important for you to modify your ‘consent to call agreement’ and upgrade it to a ‘consent to contact agreement’. This will help mitigate compliance issues while improving collection efforts by giving consumers what they want. Win-win!

Here is sample language for a ‘consent to contact agreement’.

You agree, in order for us to service our account or to collect any amounts you may owe, we may contact you by telephone at any telephone number associated with your account, including wireless telephone numbers, which could result in charges to you. We may also contact you by sending text messages or e-mails, using any e-mail address you provide to us. Methods of contact may include using pre-recorded/artificial voice messages and/or use of an automatic dialing device, as applicable.

I/We have read this disclosure and agree that the Lender/Creditor may contact me/us as described above.

_____________________ ______________

Borrower/Customer:        Signature date:

Electronic signatures are also becoming commonplace. This is all well and good as long as the signer is given (or at the very least offered) a copy of the document.

Contract law requires a ‘meeting of the minds’ and this can only happen when both parties understand and agree to the terms of the contract (e.g. admission agreements, financial agreements, etc.) Of course a patient or customer may choose not to read the document before signing, but that, in of itself, will not relieve them of their obligations under the contract. Again, we’ve written about this before, but it is important (if you want to enforce the agreement) that you can offer proof that the consumer or patient was offered a copy of the entire document. Please note: It is not enough to say that the document could have been made available had they asked.

Unfortunately it has become common practice (I’ve witnessed it myself firsthand) that sometimes patients are asked to sign a ‘consent to treat’ agreement and are told to just sign a blank screen that is giving them, the medical provider, consent to treat and bill insurance. No mention is made of other important terms, such as describing the patient’s financial responsibilities, payments terms, etc. Down the road, the patient could claim they thought those were the only provisions they were signing off on so they didn’t read the document (if it was available).

When using e-signatures for agreements here are our recommendations:

  1. Always have full copy of document available for inspection by patient or customer.
  2. Inform patient or customer that the document is available without being asked for it.
  3. Invite the patient or customer to read the document and ask questions about any terms he/she finds unclear.
  4. When asked or when stating the purpose of the document, do not attempt to summarize by mentioning only a couple of the terms.
  5. When the document relates to hospital or medical services and the patient seems reluctant to sign or wishes to delete certain parts, do not state or imply that services will be withheld if not signed, unless that is your actual policy. When applied to consumer transactions, “take it or leave it” contracts for necessary goods and services, such as medical, are highly disfavored in law as “contracts of adhesion”.
  6. Document the above circumstances of each electronic signing as a regularly kept business record. This can be done either as a short narrative or a check-off form that is signed by the person acting on behalf of the creditor, such as an admission’s clerk.

There’s no guarantee that following the above recommendations will prevent a challenge to the enforceability of electronically signed agreements, but they will make it much more likely that such agreements will be upheld if challenged.


Did You Know?
End of year is a Great time for collections. Send us your placements now to take advantage of tax refunds. 

       Best practices for sending placements include:

SSN and/or DOB
Address and phone number
 Spouse information 
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