Lefkovitz & Lefkovitz
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Debt collector tactics evolving thanks to technology

Tennessee consumers who have fallen behind on their bills could find themselves being contacted by debt collectors in new ways. Two new methods include the use of avatars and voice mails that arrive on a person's phone without making a sound. Consumer groups are upset by the new tactics, but managers at debt collection companies say that the tools actually benefit consumers.

When a voice mail is left on a person's phone without making the phone ring, it is technically not a call. This allows debt collection companies to sidestep rules related to when and how often they can call a debtor. Debt collection firms also get away with automated call violations because the contacts aren't classified as phone calls. These companies also claim that debtors can return calls at their own pace, which may be beneficial for them.

Companies that use avatars to connect with customers are three times more likely to get paid compared to debtors that go to regular sites. Therefore, those who owe money may see virtual debt collection agents sent to their email inboxes to coax a payment from them. Finally, speech analytic tools can monitor whether a collection agent is behaving appropriately during a collection call. It can also monitor whether a collection agent is struggling, which may indicate the need for a supervisor to take over the call.

Those who are looking for a fresh financial start may wish to consider filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow a debtor to reorganize some or all of his or her debt and repay it over a three or five year period. During the repayment period, creditors generally cannot take steps such as repossessing a car or foreclosing on a home, which may allow time to renegotiate a secured loan's terms.

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