Being a debt collector is a tough job and, as president of a national debt collection company, I can tell you, that job gets even tougher during the holidays.
Anytime you are in a position that involves asking someone to pay back money they owe, things tend to get somewhat awkward. During the holiday season, these conversations get even more challenging for debt collectors. Starting around the week of Thanksgiving, consumers focus more on what goods and services they are going to purchase and less on paying off debts they feel can be put off until the New Year.
In my experience, collectors talk to roughly the same amount of consumers as they do during non-holiday times (with the exception of tax season), but the number of consumers that work out repayment agreements with during the holidays does go down significantly. Debt collectors also see the majority of the repayment agreements they do collect on at this time come in as smaller payments.
In addition to their base pay, most debt collectors are paid on commission, so this drop off in business can prove stressful. Though some consumers may tend to forget, debt collectors are real people with real lives, too. They are often faced with the same economic challenges as the consumers they speak with every day. They have to focus even more on every consumer interaction they initiate in order to try and collect on whatever debts they can. As repayments decline, management in debt collection companies will often run extra contests and offer incentives to keep spirits and production up during the holidays.
Being a consumer with debt is very tough at this time of year as well. Consumers may not want to think about their debts or debt collection around the holidays. However, understanding what it’s like to be a debt collector at this time could work in your favor. Ultimately, collectors can become more flexible to work with during the holiday season. Consumers may want to take advantage of this flexibility and resolve their delinquent debts towards the end of the year.
They could possibly get a better deal on a repayment plan now than at any other point in the year. Debt collectors know they collect less money during the holidays, so consumers may be able to work out deals that are more advantageous to them — especially when it comes to settlements. If a consumer is looking to settle an account for less than the balance owed in order to resolve it, the holidays are by far the best time to do so because, the reality is, the consumer has the upper hand in negotiations.
So, if a debt collector calls during the holiday, you may want to curb any initial reaction to push them (and your debts) off until after the New Year. Instead, you may want to take a few minutes to hear them out and see what type of deal you could take advantage of.
This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- Understanding Your Debt Collection Rights
- Top 10 Debt Collection Rights