ACA International, the largest association representing collection agencies, issued a press release Thursday aimed at helping dispel commonly held myths about the credit and collections industry.
The full text follows:
Today more than 30 million consumers have delinquent or defaulted accounts under collection, averaging $1,400 each.
"Repayment of consumer debt is the lifeblood of America's credit-based system and vitally important to the national and state economies," ACA International CEO Pat Morris said. "It helps ensure that affordable credit is available, goods and services remain affordable, sustains jobs and supports keeping taxes low."
As an industry, third-party debt collectors help employ more than 300,000 people, pay nearly $2 billion in federal, state and local taxes, donate $85 million and volunteer 650,000 hours to charitable organizations in local communities.
"Whether a small town hospital, business or a city struggling to recover taxpayer owed dollars, organizations large and small rely on the recovery of rightfully owed consumer debt," Morris said.
Myth 1: Avoiding a Debt Collector Makes the Debt Go Away. Consumers who ask debt collectors to stop contact or choose not to respond to calls or letters often mistakenly believe it means their debt has been eliminated. Avoiding contact will not erase a debt. Instead, consumers should communicate with collectors to discuss the account, verify its accuracy and work on a plan for resolution. If consumers don't owe the debt, communicating with collectors can help put a stop to calls or letters.
Myth 2: Consumers Don't Have Rights in the Recovery of Past Due Accounts. The collection of consumer debt is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. Consumers have important rights under a number of federal and state laws. For more information about what to do if contacted by a debt collector please visit www.askdoctordebt.org .
Myth 3: All Debt Collectors are Bad. Just as "all consumers" aren't the same, neither are all debt collectors. Most are committed to professionalism, training and customer service. When it comes to the "bad guys," we want to put them out of business just as consumers do. ACA International and its members continue to work with state and federal policymakers, regulators, courts and attorneys general to comply with the law and hold accountable those who do not.
Myth 4: It is Boom Time for Debt Collectors. It's no secret that consumers have struggled financially in the current economy. Despite an increase in defaults and delinquency, the inability of consumers to repay rightfully owed debts trickles down to those charged with their recovery.
ACA International ( www.acainternational.org ) is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together nearly 5,000 members in the U.S. and abroad, and their employees, including third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA establishes a wide variety of products, services and publications.