Go Team USA!

It’s official!

Casey Larson will be representing the USA at his first Olympic Winter Games next month in PyeongChang, South Korea. He’s a 19-year-old ski jumper who trains at Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, IL… oh, and did we mention he’s the eldest son of our owner and President, Meg Scotty?

14064253_1026054490835812_1700218445541493292_n

You can keep up with the latest on the team at the USA Nordic website, and show your support for Casey on his official Facebook page.

Congratulations to Casey, Meg, and the whole family, and please join us in cheering him on, together with all the great athletes of Team USA!

Advertisements

So Sue Me

When a collection agency has exhausted its efforts and payment still hasn’t materialized, it’s time to consider the next step: filing suit.

How does a creditor know when litigation is the right course of action? The (sometimes frustrating!) truth is there are no guarantees, but there are key factors that can help determine whether a lawsuit is likely to produce results that make the effort and expense worthwhile.

How much do they owe?

Filing fees, process server charges, and other unavoidable expenses — typically referred to by the catchall term “court costs” — vary widely from state to state and sometimes even from county to county. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve risen sharply in the last decade, driven by up by budget-crunched state and local governments.

These costs completely separate from the collection attorney being paid for their services, which is generally on a contingent percentage basis similar to that of collection agencies: If the creditor doesn’t get paid, neither do they. In some cases, if the risk of recovering nothing is high, they will charge a non-contingent suit fee, typically 5% of the balance due, as compensation for their work on the case.

With all this in mind, it’s rarely worth the effort and cost to pursue litigation for a balance less than $5,000.00.

What’s the status of the entity?

If your debtor is a business, are they operating? Do they have a valid telephone number and physical address? Are they listed as active by the Secretary of State? If the answer to any of these questions — especially the last one — is no, there’s a strong risk that the attorney won’t be even able to get them served with the initial complaint. And if they are served, it’s likely to end up in a “paper judgment” that never results in any payment.

slide02

If your debtor is an individual, it’s even more important to make certain you have a valid physical address where they can be served. There’s no backup option, no registered agent or service via Secretary of State. And the truth is, most judgments against individual debtors never recover any funds, because…

Do they have attachable assets?

One area where your collection agency’s experience and resources are invaluable is in determining what assets the debtor might have. Nothing is foolproof, but there’s a wealth of public records your agency can use to paint a helpful picture of the debtor’s financial situation. That active business that looks like it should have plenty of resources to pay its bills? It could turn out that they have prior judgments against them, liens placed by the IRS, or a big mortgage secured by all their inventory and equipment as collateral. The liens and secured debts take priority by law, and those outstanding judgments often mean there was nothing left over to pay those creditors — which means there won’t be for your debt either!

With an individual debtor, consumer protection laws severely limit your ability to collect on a judgment. Wages can be garnished on a limited basis — if they’re earning them, and if they don’t qualify for a variety of exemptions. Or a lien could be placed on their home or other property, which won’t matter until they try to sell it.

Are they disputing the debt?

Debtors who just evade demands are one thing, but what if they insist the debt isn’t owed at all? Even if they can’t or won’t give you a valid reason why they believe they shouldn’t pay, a debtor who won’t budge from their position is likely to contest the suit and drag you through a drawn-out litigation process in the hope that you’ll decide it isn’t worth it and go away.

It’s tempting to stand up for the “matter of principle,” but it doesn’t always make pragmatic business sense. Better to decide at the outset whether the amount owed is worth it, before you invest the money and effort in a lawsuit.

30348018

Is it ever worthwhile to sue?

That long list of cautions might make it seem like we’re trying to talk you out of ever filing suit in a collection matter! But many accounts, after careful review, do emerge as viable candidates for litigation. This is just an overview. Each claim is different, and your certified agency can analyze and make a recommendation about which ones look likely to produce results. In partnership with a bonded collection attorney, they’ll help you navigate the system for the best possible return on your investment.

To learn more about how Brennan & Clark works with attorneys in the Triadic System to minimize losses and help protect your interests, contact us at info@brennanclark.com or (800) 858-7600.

The ups and downs of extending credit

Extending credit to customers has always been a complex proposition, but never more so than today. When is it right for your business to take that step?

Retail stores, healthcare providers, and transportation services typically require straight cash transactions for their rendered services, while many other business types offer extended credit.  This arrangement can encourage customers to spend more, and can help establish healthy company-customer relationships.

dreamstimefree_186042

Many businesses offer credit in hopes of improving sales. But offering credit can bring more losses than gains for some companies, especially with startups and local businesses. Credit can cost the company money. When a seller offers credit, the customer is using the product they have on loan, but the company gets nothing from it until they are paid.

We would all like to look at customers as clean slates who can pay on time. Unfortunately, some customers take full advantage of the credit, causing the company to lose money. Being aware of a customer’s credit rating and history can go a long way toward protecting your company.

2pockets

Even a customer with a clean credit history, though, can have an unexpected downturn, or in some cases simply show the true colors that may not have been reported on their credit before. When that happens, and when your in-house receivables team hits a dead end, it may be time to bring in the professionals.

A dollar can’t be in two places at once. Let us help you keep yours where they belong! Contact us today at (800) 858-7600 or info@brennanclark.com to learn more.

Why Use a Certified Collection Agency?

You may have heard about the importance of using a certified agency for your third-party collections — but what does that mean?

foundingmember_200pxIt’s easy for an agency to say they hold high standards of ethics and compliance with laws and regulations, but a certifying body like Commercial Collection Agencies of America provides concrete assurance that they will adhere to them.  A non-profit organization, they have developed stringent rules and a professional training program for collectors to protect your interests and uphold the integrity of the collection industry.

Using a Commercial Collection Agencies of America member ensures that you receive the following protections and advantages:

  • Professional services to help attain maximum dollar recovery
  • Prompt remittance of funds to creditors
  • Minimum $300,000 surety bond coverage
  • Maintenance of separate trust accounts for collected funds
  • Reputable collection procedures that maintain your customers’ good will
  • Ongoing oversight to ensure adherence to a rigorous code of ethics
  • An experienced agency that has been in business for a minimum of four years
  • Agency executives attend annual meetings and complete continuing education courses
  • Assistance in choosing legal counsel when necessary
  • Creditors may call upon the Executive Director if a complaint arises

certificatekey

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to know an agency you can trust is calling your customers.

Brennan & Clark is proud to be a Founding Member of Commercial Collection Agencies of America and to make sure every one of our Professional Negotiators maintains its high standards.  To learn more, contact us at info@brennanclark.com or (800) 858-7600.

21st Century Skip Tracing

For the average person, the term “skip tracing” is likely to evoke images of old Hollywood gumshoes, or maybe reality-TV bounty hunters.

The reality of skip tracing — at least in the debt collection industry — might not be quite that romantic or action-oriented, but it’s more important than ever in a world where people and businesses are constantly on the move.

19119356

No doubt you’ve heard over and over again in recent years that we have moved from a “manufacturing economy” to a “service economy” — and a business that offers those services might just as easily be based in the owner’s spare bedroom as in a traditional office. When those businesses become debtors, there are particular challenges in locating them to ask for payment, and a host of new online search tools have emerged to help meet those challenges.

When claims are received at Brennan & Clark, the first step is to use the best of those tools to gather contact information and look up the legal entity of the debtor. Our skip tracing team then confirms which numbers are valid and that the debtor is listed as an active business.

With these details at their fingertips, our professional negotiators don’t have to be stopped in their tracks by returned mail or a disconnected number.

skiptracingworkflow

If they do run out of contact information, it’s back to the skip tracing team for a more intensive search. This is where their expertise really comes in — contacting neighboring businesses, following up with insurance or sales agents who facilitated the original transaction, and following up on possible individual contact information for the debtor company’s officers.

In today’s world, more debtors are on the move than ever before, and Brennan & Clark’s crack team is on the case! To learn more about how our expertise can benefit your business, contact us at info@brennanclark.com or (800) 858-7600.