Under guidance and regulations put in place by the government to help protect consumers, debt collection companies assist creditors such as banks, medical and health care facilities, telecommunications companies and student loan lenders with collecting debt.
Debt collection companies can vary on the type of debt they collect, how they collect it along with fees they charge for their services. If a business is considering using a debt collection company to pursue payments owed to them, they should compare the different types of companies to see which one best suits their needs.
Top 10 Best Rated Debt Collection Agencies
Client Services, Inc. was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in St. Charles, Mo. They specialize in business process outsourcing, healthcare solutions and accounts receivable including recovery and collections.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Capital Collections, LLC got its start in 1996 and is headquartered in Fresno, California. They use top of the line collection tools and software and work with each client to improve their cash flow and recovery efforts.
|Read 18 Reviews|
PFS has been in business for over 15 years and has offices throughout the Southeast and Midwest. They purchase finance contracts for used automobiles, trucks and motorcycles that originate from franchises or independent dealers.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Originally founded in 1991 as Collection Company of America, EOS CCA specializes in debt collection. They joined the EOS Group in 2001 to become EOS CCA. Their goal is to work respectfully with consumers to resolve debt issues.
|Read 22 Reviews|
Progressive is a privately held company that got its start in 1995. They service a wide market, offering first and third-party collection services, default prevention, skip tracing searches and bilingual collection services.
|Read 11 Reviews|
Forster and Garbus LLP is a full-service New York law firm with a focus on creditor’s rights law. Their goals are to align the needs of clients with those of consumers and to work in a professional manner to resolve debt issues.
|Read 41 Reviews|
Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, Regional Finance provides loans throughout the South. They have internal debt collectors that attempt to collect on delinquent loan payments.
|Read 102 Reviews|
FirstSource Advantage has been a global collections service provider since 1995. They are headquartered in Amherst, New York and are registered to provide collection services in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
|Read 33 Reviews|
Pioneer Credit Recovery operates under the publicly traded company Navient. They are headquartered in New York and work with federal and state clients, providing tax and government debt recovery services.
|Read 29 Reviews|
NARS, also operating under the name Integrity Solution Services, Inc., is headquartered in Atlanta with offices in Missouri, Panama and Jamaica. They offer debt collection services and debt buying services.
|Read 20 Reviews|
What to consider when hiring a debt collection company?
What are the regulations for debt collectors?
It is important for debt collection companies to avoid legal action by staying compliant with ever-changing industry regulations. These regulations protect consumers by creating business operation guidelines, defining the rights of consumers involved with debt collectors and outlining penalties. Four of the major regulations debt collectors should be in compliance with are:
- HIPPA/HITECH: For debt collection companies dealing with medical bill collection, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) makes sure companies are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
- FDCPA: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits third party debt collector behavior by prohibiting certain conduct. Examples include regulating hours for phone contact, threatening arrest of legal action and failing to cease communication upon request.
- FCRA: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a law that protects consumer's personal financial information and the misuse of credit information. Some common violations of this law by debt collectors have been furnishing and reporting old information and reporting inaccurate information.
- TCPA: The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts phone solicitors and regulates the use of automated equipment. This law applies to debt collectors as well as telemarketers. A common issue with the TCPA and debt collection is the act of calling an individual's cell phone. Debt collectors are required to get written or oral consent to call a personal cell phone.
What methods do debt collectors use?
Debt collection companies use different ways to reach out to consumers when attempting to collect payments. Along with various calling strategies, companies have many options that allow them to get in touch with consumers.
- Skip tracing: Skip tracing, relating to debt collection, is the process of locating people in debt whose contact information is no longer accurate. Companies use various skip tracing software to obtain someone's updated information. The most common resource is often a large online database, such as internal county databases like the DMV.
- Account segmentation: Debt collectors prioritize and segment accounts to help build strategies to collect more debt. One example of account segmentation is using critical data such as bankruptcy or deceased records to determine high-risk accounts for early collection efforts.
- Debt discounting and reduced payments: One strategy debt collection companies use is creating a situation where debt is more affordable. Depending on the type of debt owed and a consumer’s current financial situation, a debt collector might offer to discount the debt. This is always used on a case-by-case basis and depends on each person’s unique circumstances. Monthly payments are another option typically offered by debt collection companies.
- Technology: Technology tools and software allow debt collection companies to view credit reports in real time, helping them determine collection scores. Collection scores show how collectible a person is. For example, someone who is current on their mortgage and makes car payments on time is more collectible than someone with accounts that have not been paid on for some time. This helps with prioritizing accounts.
What types of debt can be collected?
There are many types of personal debt that can be incurred, and most debt companies specialize in collecting one to three types. It is important for companies to look into which type of debt a debt collection company specializes in. Types of debt include personal loans, cell phone bills, utility bills, bank overdraft charges and auto loans. The most common include:
- Credit card debt: Since credit cards are unsecured debts, meaning there is no collateral involved, this is one of the most sought after forms of debt. Any unpaid balance will continually accrue debt until full payment is made. This is why collectors pursue a lot more money than what is shown as the final balance.
- Medical debt: Unpaid medical bills are often viewed as contractual since the patient usually signs agreements stating they will pay for any expenses that come from treatment. Many times people do not have insurance or their insurance doesn’t cover all of the bills. Debt collectors will use many campaigns to collect a medical bill with a final effort resulting in a lawsuit.
- Student loans: Student loan debt is the largest type of debt in the United States. Some student loans are private, but most are federally subsidized, meaning the government is ultimately responsible for the debt. Private creditors can not forcibly collect money, however, there is no statute of limitations on student loans, which means the government has an unlimited amount of time to collect on them. Almost all unpaid student loans go through a collection process with a third party company. Often this will lead to wage garnishment until the debt is fully paid.
What kinds of fees do debt collection companies charge?
When looking into using a debt collection company it is important to consider their fees and contingency costs. Each company charges for their services in different ways, so businesses should make sure they choose a company that works best for them. A couple of common payment structures include:
- Flat fee: A flat fee is a predetermined price for each file that is usually offered at the beginning of the debt collection process. Collectors who charge flat fees are typically ideal for companies needing to collect a low number of smaller debt.
- Contingency: This is the most common payment arrangement used by debt collection companies. Depending on each account's details, such as how old it is or how many contacts have been made, a debt collection company will charge somewhere between 25 percent and 45 percent of the total amount collected. Contingency fees should include all services that will be needed, such as research, credit reporting and legal fees.
What payment options do debt collectors offer consumers?
Debt collection companies offer a few ways for consumers to pay off their debt. Since their goal is collecting debt owed to various companies, they will continuously analyze their clients’ portfolios and try to set up the best payment options based on individual needs.
- Online payment: Most debt collection companies have a secure online account system where people can create an account to make online payments. As another online payment option, people can choose to have their payments auto-drafted.
- Phone payment: A lot of debt collection companies let people make payments over the phone. Typically, people can reference letters received in the mail to locate the appropriate office to call or call a general customer service line. Another option debt collectors offer is a toll-free, 24/7, automated payment number. Consumers will need their account number and a valid checking or savings account. Automated phone payments usually come with a convenience fee.
- Pay by mail: Consumers can mail in their payment to the address located on their notification letter. If an address is not provided in the letter, people can call the customer service number to find the correct location to mail their payment.
- Wire transfer: Some companies provide consumers with the ability to pay with a wire transfer. There will be a specific phone number on the notification letter or a toll-free phone number to call to utilize this payment method.
What are different types of debt collectors?
Internal debt collectors
Sometimes called first-party collectors, internal debt collectors work for the same company to which money is owed. This is usually the first step in the debt collection process because it is more profitable than contracting the debt to a third-party collector. They are not regulated by the FDCPA and will sometimes send premature collection letters prompting a sense of urgency to pay off debt.
Third-party debt collectors
Third-party debt collectors are hired by companies or original creditors to collect debt on their behalf. They generally work off of a fee structure and do not purchase debt outright but make a percentage of how much they collect. Third-party debt collectors are regulated by the FDCPA.
After an account has been in debt for an extended period of time, creditors might sell it to a debt buyer at a fraction of the cost. Debt buyers will then attempt to collect on the full amount of the debt owed.
Who needs a debt collection company?
Private loan creditors
Now the largest form of debt in the United States, student loans have become one of the most sought after types of debt. Debt collection companies can work for the creditor by sending collection letters, making calls and using other forms of collection to obtain payments from debtors.
Even though the federal government can issue wage garnishment in an attempt to collect on student loan debts, they will contract with third-party debt collectors to be more aggressive in obtaining payments from debtors.
Hospitals and health care facilities
Hospitals and health care facilities can use debt collection companies to work with debtors to pay off medical bills. They can analyze each account to determine the best route to take to collect payments. From following up with insurance agencies, working out a payment plan, discounting payments or calling on customers, debt collection companies can be a beneficial form of medical debt collection.
Credit card companies
Credit card companies can utilize a debt collection company to send demand letters and make phone calls to try to collect debt. They can help prioritize and segment accounts to determine high-risk debtors.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
11 – 42 Best Rated Debt Collection Agencies
Southwest Recovery Services operates out of Dallas and has over 25 years of debt recovery and account servicing experience. Each of their agents goes through extensive training on collection methods and tools.
|Read 17 Reviews|
AFNI has been in business since 1936 offering collection services for telecommunications, cable, healthcare and insurance companies. They also work with client customers for reasons regarding customer support and customer service.
|Read 215 Reviews|
National Credit Adjusters has been a privately held company since 2001. They specialize in delinquent account receivables and helping creditors liquidate receivables through their well-trained staff.
|Read 23 Reviews|
NCC has been in the business of collecting revenue since 1969. They specialize in healthcare revenue recovery and have relationships with major hospitals, physicians and healthcare facilities nationwide.
|Read 23 Reviews|
ERC is a diverse company offering services in insurance, retail/e-commerce and finance. They provide third-party debt collection services specializing in older accounts and specialty accounts such as equipment retrieval.
|Read 105 Reviews|
World Finance has been offering fixed rate and payment loan solutions to consumers since 1962. They utilize a team of internal debt collectors to collect on delinquent accounts. Today the have nearly 1,200 branches nationwide.
|Read 47 Reviews|
National Recovery Agency is a nationwide provider of accounts receivable management. They help consumers, businesses and other organizations resolve debts and work with thousands of people every day to collect overdue payments.
|Read 25 Reviews|
Alliance One was formed in 1999 through the acquisition of five account receivables companies. They offer a complete range of collection services globally with a focus on corporate compliance and ethics.
|Read 70 Reviews|
Pinnacle Financial Group was formed in 1990 and is part of the Strategic Alliance Mortgage group, which allows them to expand their market nationwide. They offer advisory services, loan servicing and debt management assistance.
|Read 44 Reviews|
PRA is a publicly-traded debt buyer founded in 1996 and is based in Norfolk, Virginia. They offer consumers options to pay off their debt by asking about their personal financial situation to determine an appropriate plan.
|Read 89 Reviews|
IC System offers debt collection services in the healthcare, communications, small and medium business, government and utility fields. They offer clients three packages ranging from contingency plans to fixed fee plans.
|Read 122 Reviews|
Global Credit and Collections Corp. got its start in 1999 and is an accounts receivable management company that focuses on the financial services and telecommunications industries.
|Read 72 Reviews|
Transworld Systems offers debt collection services, loan servicing and accounts receivable for business across a broad range of industries, including healthcare, higher education, government, finance, dental and lawn and garden.
|Read 51 Reviews|
DRS is a fully licensed debt collection agency that purchases debt of all classes and stages. They also offer clients contingency servicing utilizing trained collectors to pursue client accounts with professionalism.
|Read 67 Reviews|
In 2012, NCO and APAC Customer Solutions merged to become Expert Global Solutions. As a global company, they offer debt collection services for the finance, healthcare, retail, telecom, transportation and utilities industries.
|Read 100 Reviews|
Niagara Credit Solutions is a debt collection agency that offers receivable management in all industries. Their technology platform integrates database management and skip tracing, allowing clients the option to audit remotely.
|Read 11 Reviews|
Based in Minnesota with locations in Canada, India and the Philippines, Allied Interstate offers accounts receivable, customer retention and debt collection services to large companies in various industries.
|Read 82 Reviews|
National Recovery Network is an investigative company specializing in property recovery. In addition to recovery services, they offer auto liquidation and debt collection services.
|Read 23 Reviews|
United Consumer Financial Services has been offering financing solutions to companies and distributors for over 35 years. Its team of over 200 employees services the U.S.A., Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
|Read 26 Reviews|
United Recovery Systems, now Alltran, helps people find solutions to their financial challenges. Headquartered in Houston, it offers collection services for the healthcare, financial, higher education and government industries.
|Read 36 Reviews|
Headquartered in Sherwood, Arkansas, ABC Financial Services has provided software and billing services to the health and fitness industry since 1981. Today, it helps over 8,000 health clubs increase their profits.
|Read 114 Reviews|
Leib Solutions joined the Smyyth/Creditek family of companies in 2015 as a leader in accounts receivable and collections management. Today, they strive to deliver top collection results through customizable technology.
|Read 68 Reviews|
Medicredit is a debt collections company located in St. Louis, Missouri that offers consumers a fast, secure online platform to pay their bills. It also employs people in 15 call centers who provide debt collection services.
|Read 73 Reviews|
Convergent has been offering receivables management and revenue cycle management for over 60 years. Headquartered in Renton, Washington, they service over 15 industries with collection solutions using customized technology.
|Read 44 Reviews|
Commonwealth Financial offers nationwide collection services and is headquartered in Dickson City, Pennsylvania. For 25 years, they have serviced debt purchasers, financial, commercial, government and medical clients.
|Read 25 Reviews|
Capital Management Services L.P. has over 60 years of experience in the debt collection industry. It manages portfolios dealing with over 15 different stages of delinquency while focusing on maintaining compliance in all areas.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Regional Adjustment Bureau has been providing receivables management solutions since 1971. It primarily focuses on student loan collection and works with account holders to determine the best payment options.
|Read 22 Reviews|
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, General Revenue Corporations provides debt collection services for higher education clients. It has been working with clients to customize debt collection solutions for over 30 years.
|Read 27 Reviews|
Established in 1979, Nationwide Recovery Systems helps businesses maximize their cash flow by minimizing their bad debt. With branches in Dallas and Tyler, Texas they service the commercial and healthcare industries.
|Read 17 Reviews|
|Out of Business||Read 80 Reviews|
|Out of Business||Read 29 Reviews|
|Out of Business||Read 38 Reviews|