A 3-Step Guide for Dealing with Consumer Complaints in the Collections Industry
By: Neil Gonsalves, Director
One of the ongoing issues for the ARM and collections industry is the ever-present complaint process. Our clients ask themselves: Are we handling our complaints appropriately? Are the complaints legitimate? How do we resolve complaints? What are we really responsible for?
Little overwhelming? Here at A-LIGN, we want our clients to comply with the guidelines established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and have created a simple step-by-step guide to help initiate a process to control complaints effectively.
Step 1: Education
Your employees should know the laws and regulations that your company follows, in order to establish clear expectations for each of your agents during the collections process.
Typically, agents should be trained in the following areas:
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) compliance
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
- State laws as applicable to your company
- Specific policies and procedures related to agent conduct
Step 2: Monitoring
Monitoring should be an incentive for agents to do the right thing at all times. By monitoring your collection agents, you’ll document how your company follows FDCPA, GLBA, applicable state laws, and other regulations specific to your industry. This documentation will be useful should your company be selected for a CFPB examination.
- Establish a monitoring process and schedule,
- Review specific aspects of calls and conversations with consumers, and
- Retain notes for each call reviewed.
Step 3: Resolving Complaints
When receiving complaints, make sure you have assigned a specific group of employees, ideally two or more, who are responsible for the tracking and resolution of the complaint. Having at least two individuals will allow your company to avoid any potential delays in complaint resolution, should the primary individual assigned be unavailable.
Additionally, a monitoring report should be disseminated to management on a regular basis, which elaborates on the complaint status. The monitoring reports should document the complaint resolution process to ensure that management takes appropriate steps to resolve complaints should they be escalated.
Developing a Tracking System:
Agencies must have a tracking system, as the CFPB includes the consumer complaint process in their examinations. A tracking system will provide the CFPB’s auditors with documentation that your company is following the guidance put forth by the CFPB. Whether you use a ticket tracking method or a spreadsheet to track complaints, consider how your complaints are received and how to ensure you've received all complaints. Once a tracking system has been identified and implemented, the complaints should be resolved according to a standard procedure.
We realize that setting up a complaint process may be overwhelming, as this process should be customized to best fit your business. Should you have any questions regarding the consumer compliant process or the CFPB’s guidelines, please contact Neil Gonsalves at 888-702-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on A-LIGN’s CFPB exam readiness assessments, please visit our CFPB services page.