Now then, you may want to help a collection agent in the search for Lulubelle or Junior. There are a few good reasons for doing so:
- Unless you are dealing with an arrogant son of a gun whose only purpose is to collect the cash at all costs, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar or poop. Your grandmother said it, your mother said it, you say it now and then. It's just as true today as it was 100 years ago.
- It certainly gets this particular agency off your back! This is especially true if, like me, you have a Junior or Lulubelle who's racked up quite a lot of charges with a lot of companies, and now has a lot of collection agencies looking for him or her.
- If this your adult child's debt, they certainly owe it. If somebody has committed ID theft using your name, I should hope you'd want that person caught, no matter who it is. It IS a crime, and it is punishable by fines, restitution, and/ or imprisonment (more on ID theft in Part 4).
And some of these agents are just nice people. They sit in a cubicle, day in, day out, earning money at a job (can't really call it a profession- high turnover rate), catching flack from people for the fact that these people haven't paid their debts. So, if a sweet, middle-aged voice spends a little time with them on the phone, they often visit a bit. And that visiting can share some information with you, about your Lulubelle or Junior, even though it might not be strictly legal.
That collections agent or representative? They probably won't be there in six months. Debt collection, even on its best days, is an emotionally draining job. Nobody is going to come after you for:
- Asking oh-so-casually if you can compare the address you have with the one the collection agent has; ditto social security numbers, phone numbers, places of employment, etc.
- Asking the name of the collection agency. Number 1, they are supposed to tell you. Number 2, you might want to see if it is an agency that has called you before this (different agents with the same collection agency handle different companies).
- Asking, if the agency has come up again, for which company the collection agent collects. Sometimes- not often but sometimes- the agent will not only give you company, but the amount owed. If the adult child owes you money, or you are trying to collect child support, that amount is a good indicator of possible information on what the adult child is earning these days, and where if you don't already know.
So, offer up a bit of information on the adult kid! Give them the last phone number you had for Lulubelle, even if it doesn't work any more. It could take the agent to Junior's former phone company, or the next phone carrier. If you have it, offer to confirm Lulubelle's social security number, because dear Lulubelle has not been above lying so far, and might have changed a few digits in hers to obtain credit in the first place. It will help in skip tracing (a process we'll discuss in part 5). If you know of any of Junior's friends, be sure to mention those, and their addresses and phone numbers as well, if you just happen to have that information. Let them in on the love from collection agencies. This is especially true if you have an ex-spouse who tends to blame the adult child's behavior on you, and any of those ex-in-laws as well.
You might even feel the agent was nice enough to send the agency a follow-up letter. You don't have to get fancy. Don't include your name, and do NOT include your address! The object of this is to have collection agencies quit calling you, not have more of them call you. Just mention that you spoke with So-and-so on the phone on the date in question, and this is the information you offered that person. Stick a stamp on the envelope addressed to the agency, and you know you've done all you can to stop your wayward adult child from being a deadbeat.