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Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair

When working with consumers, it can be helpful to develop a good rapport by advising them how to get their credit back on track. Here are five steps you can suggest to help them.

Step One: Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get all three bureau credit reports once a year for free.

Step Two: Review all three credit reports and then remove negative information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable.

Step Three: Work on the items "most damaging" to "least damaging" in this order: bankruptcy, foreclosure, repossession, loan default, court judgments, collections, past due payments, late payments, credit rejections and credit inquiries

Step Four: Mail certified dispute letters or Use the online disputing service provided by the credit bureaus or

Step Five: Wait 45 days, and repeat the process if necessary, at least annually. If a credit bureau cannot verify information on your credit report within the time allowed by law, they must remove it.

Remember: Anything a credit repair company can do, you can do for yourself for free.

Supreme Court Case Explains Debt Buyers Are Not Debt Collectors Under FDCPA

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week on an FDCPA case expected to have a major impact on debt buyers. The Court ruled that the FDCPA, enacted by Congress in 1977, does not apply to debt collection practices of a debt buyer who buys defaulted loans from a creditor.

The plaintiffs in the case of Henson v. Santander Consumer USA were four Maryland residents who defaulted on their auto loans. They sued Santander in 2012 for predatory collection practices including bypassing debtors' lawyers. But because Santander owned the debt and was servicing it, the court said Santander and companies like them couldn’t be sued under FDCPA.

The Citicorp auto loans was sold to Santander, a Dallas-based vehicle-financing and lending company owned in part by a subsidiary of Banco Santander (SAN.MC), the euro zone's second-largest bank by market value.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia threw out the lawsuit previously saying the law applied only to debt collectors, and Santander became a creditor when it purchased the loans.

The case hinged on the definitions of “creditor” and “debt collector” and whether a company that buys debt should be treated as a creditor and therefore not subject to the law.

Making a Debt Collection Resume Worthy of Attention

burden susanIs your resume preventing you from being considered by not addressing how your previous experience makes you qualified for the position based upon the requirements set forth by the hiring entity? In today’s competitive market it is important to stand above the rest. As a professional looking for a job change you must clearly state an objective and summarize experience in the beginning of the resume. This includes even the most senior candidates. How else do you expect the reader to understand the message you are looking to convey? Resumes are broken down in separate sections and the structure might vary; however the overall premise is to list your achievements chronologically and honestly. But most important is to offer what you have achieved and what you would like to achieve in the future.

Let’s say you are a collections sales executive applying for a commercial sales role and have not worked in a business-to-business environment for several years. You need to initiate the resume with an attention grabber. It doesn’t even have to be elaborate. For example, you can simply state:

“15 years of collections sales experience in a consumer and commercial capacity looking to transition into a commercial sales role.”

An excellent opportunity to provide this information is in the objective or career summary portion of your resume. Providing this information tells the hiring manager you have what it takes to get the job done!

In essence, a resume is a like a personal advertisement and any good advertisement should be tailored to a specific audience. Honesty is equally important when creating a resume. Never claim that you are something you are not. In a personal ad, if you try to attract someone by stating you are athletic and like to climb mountains, you had better be prepared to strap on the climbing gear and prove it.

It works the same in the workplace. Don’t call yourself a “collection manager” if you have never managed a group of employees. If this is something you are striving towards, you can state you are a candidate with 10 years as a collector looking to step up into a management role.

There is also an importance for keeping a standard chronological format. This provides the reader with your most current position working down through the years. A resume that does not follow this progression can be misleading. I also advise candidates to realize they should not limit themselves to just one resume. You should adapt your resume for every role you apply for.

Accomplishments are another huge piece in the resume puzzle. I often see resume’s that read almost exactly as if they are a job description. It is crucial to not only list what you were tasked to do but to clearly state what you actually accomplished. I also ask for both quantitative and qualitative accomplishments. My question is, and the question you should ask yourself is, why should my client hire you?

Additionally, in the new landscape of prevailing social media, it is quite important to ensure your exposure on the Internet mimics your resume. If you are a director of collections, make sure that however it is stated on your resume is carried through to your LinkedIn profile. While we are on the subject of LinkedIn, it is necessary for you to make sure if you are in the job market that you don’t just list jobs, years and titles. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for specific keywords that through an algorithm will pull up your resume/profile in their search. For example, let’s say you are a dialer administrator and you specialize in FACS/Artiva systems. If you state you are dialer administrator and do not have the specific words “FACS” or “Artiva” systems, you won’t be found by the individual searching those key words.

Another factor on LinkedIn is realizing that who you are connected to and the groups you belong to and are engaged with will also promote your exposure. If you are looking for your next dream job, join in discussions and connect with people with similar backgrounds, even if they are a “C” level with the competition. Don’t be shy to send a connection request or engage in conversation. This could really aid you in standing out above others.

Of course, working with an industry specific recruiter is a great way to offer you a window into potential new roles in your career path.

A quality resume is clear, concise and without error. By stating what job you are looking to achieve early on, you will entice the reader to focus on how your experience qualifies you for consideration. This will capture the hiring authority’s attention and get them to read on. After that, you can close with a great interview.


Susan Burden is an Executive Recruiter from Executive Alliance with 14 years of Recruiting for Collection Agencies, Collection Law firms, Creditors, Debt Buyers and the vendors who service the industry.

DBA's New Identity Represents All Memeber Groups

rose steelDBA International completed its 20th annual conference in February and changed its name to RMA, Receivables Management Association. Collection Advisor caught up with Executive Director Jan Stieger to learn more about the changes taking place at RMA.

“The name change recognizes our members and our certifications,” Stieger said. “We have law firms, agencies and international members, many of whom are working with debt buyers. The members agreed on the name change.”

RMA represents 548 companies who purchase performing and nonperforming receivables on the secondary market. Its Receivables Management Certification Program and Code of Ethics is designed to set the global standard within the receivables industry due to its rigorous uniform industry standards of best practice which focus on the protection of the consumer according to its website. The association was founded in 1997 as Debt Buyers Association and is headquartered in Sacramento, California.

The challenge is optimism and hope for fair and balanced regulation for the professional, ethical collection of legitimate debt. “We have conversations with clients who may be selling debt again,” Stieger said.

Newly elected association President Mark Naiman announced the new name as part of a change in the association bylaws during the association’s annual conference. “We started as the Debt Buyers’ Association with our membership being primarily debt buyers,” Naiman said. “Our membership has now expanded and also includes collection law firms, collection agencies, creditors, vendors, and brokers. Our goal was to represent all of our member groups.”

The association took prudent steps to explore a variety of options for its new identity. The association will gradually roll out the new branding over the remainder of the year. Those wishing to contact RMA can still use the website and email addresses of DBA International.

The growing variety of membership is due in part to the association’s certification program, which is available for debt buyers, collection law firms, collection agencies and now, brokers. It was launched in 2013.

“Our certifications are for members and non-members,” Stieger said. “The RMA advocacy is managed in house with a robust volunteer group in each state to make sure precedents are not set”

The certification has been obtained by 122 debt buying companies, 11 law firms and eight collection agencies. “There are 221 individuals certified,” Stieger reported. To qualify for a two-year certification, 24 education credits must be earned. Candidates repeat the ethics and current events test in addition to a background check every two years. “An individual can then get a firm certification based on how they operate,” according to Stieger. The certified company must have a chief compliance officer (CCO) with the name of the CCO on their website as the person affected consumers have to call. They also need a CFPB portal. “We are on version five of the certification,” Stieger said.

There are 14 standards to which every company must comply. Some are self-attested but RMA tests some standards. A background check is done on the firm owners. There is a compliance audit every three years which goes to RMA at the same time as it goes to the firm. “There is self audit, full audit and a limited compliance audit based on complaints,” Stieger said. Vendors are responsible for the behavior of their clients to maintain data security. “We have the most robust data security requirements and documentation orders from CFPB consent orders,” Stieger said. “They have to have a complete chain of title, will not sue on out of statute debt and can’t sell debts which are in dispute, especially identity theft,” Stieger continued. Many rules are stronger than state or federal requirements. “The commission must not be only on dollars collected,” Stieger said.

Plans for more certifications are currently in place. “Broker certification was just rolled out, and we are working international later,” Stieger stated. “We will go further into the organizations already certified.” The 24 credits are offered by RMA. There are also credits provided by others like NARCA, ACA and ten others. A certain number of the credits can be taken live such as the 17 credits offered at the DBA International convention. Credits may be earned at an executive summit in the summer and other events when new laws come out. There are also webinars and recorded events.

Credit Unions, Cell Phon Numbers, and the TCPA - Are You Compliant?

jones lindaThere has been much coverage lately about credit unions potentially receiving a pass from the CFPB when it comes to rule making. But the same isn’t true for TCPA regulation. Every company that calls consumers on cell phones, no matter how big or small and no matter what the reason for the call, must comply with the rules of the TCPA.

Recently I participated in a webinar discussing the TCPA and credit unions, and was surprised to learn that the bulk of the webinar attendees are not being proactive when it comes to TCPA compliance. During the webinar, attendees were polled about their current TCPA compliance. The first question related to proactively identifying cell phone numbers in their accounts.

Of the attendees, 44% were not currently doing anything to identify cell phone numbers in their accounts. We live in a litigious society. Being unaware of which numbers in your accounts belong to cell phones could result in a violation of TCPA regulations—especially if your credit union has automatic dialing technology. Calling a credit union member on their cell phone without their express consent is a violation of the TCPA if you are placing that call via a telephone system that has automatic dialing capacity. Even if you are not presently using the automatic dialing function on your calling system, and even if your system doesn’t currently have that plug-in, you can still be in violation of the TCPA.

Another question asked in the webinar pertained to whether attendees keep up with what is going on with TCPA cases and settlements in the news.

Again, the bulk of the attendees said they do not pay attention to what is happening in the news relating to the TCPA. This could also be a costly mistake. Even if your fellow credit unions aren’t hitting the headlines with violations, it doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply to you, or you shouldn’t take time to be aware of what is going on in the credit and collections industry relating to TCPA activity.

It’s no longer only the regulators for which you have to watch out. Consumers are becoming much more savvy about screening incoming calls on their cell phones. We’ve seen a recent case where just one phone call to a consumer resulted in a lawsuit. In Sussino v. Work Out World (Case No. 15-cv-5881 (PGS)(TJB), United States District Court for the District of New Jersey), the plaintiff sued based on one phone call made to her cell phone, which she did not answer. However, a message was left, and she claimed that the one minute and six seconds it took her to pick up that message caused nuisance and invasion of privacy, trespass and interference with her rights and interest in her cell phone, intrusion on her seclusion, aggravation and annoyance, a waste of her time, loss of the use of her phone while listening to the message and depletion of her cell phone battery. While we may agree that these claims are ridiculous—in fact, the judge thought so, too—the defendant still had to pay an attorney to defend those ridiculous claims.

There are many companies that offer cell phone identification. A simple scrub of your database to get a baseline, and then a monitoring solution to watch for changes in the status of phone numbers, can be a great insurance policy for your credit union. You can no longer afford to be in the dark when it comes to cell phone numbers in your portfolio.


Linda Straub Jones is the Director of Market Planning for Compliance Products with LexisNexis Risk Solutions. She has over 30 years of experience in the credit/collections industry and has worked as a collector, skip tracer and paralegal with a collections law firm. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.