For some, a bill collector may conjure up images of a harsh, threatening character. Some who might even visualize as the "Grinch" during the holiday season, but Dallas S. Bunton, Sr., Chairman and CEO of North American Credit Services (NACS) and Medical Services in Chattanooga, Tennessee is tired of being lumped in with the Grinches.
"The stories of abusive debt collectors you see on TV, those outrageous tapes you hear, that isn't us," says Mr. Bunton."In fact, I'd argue that an overwhelming majority of professional agencies, all over this country feel the same way. That's just not how we do business."Additionally, during the holiday season, NACS modifies traditional business operating hours including not placing outbound collection calls during the week of Christmas.
Mr. Bunton makes sure each of his collectors understands and signs the "Collector's Pledge," a short, simple document that demands every consumer be treated with dignity and respect. ACA International, the leading trade association for credit and debt collection professionals, created the Pledge, which tens of thousands individual debt collectors across the globe have signed. "The vast majority of people working in this industry are every day, regular folks," says Cindy Sebrell, a spokesperson for ACA International, which advocates for 4500 third-party collection agencies and affiliates representing tens of thousands of industry professionals. "They¹re soccer moms and dads they go to PTA meetings just like you and me ‹ who want to help the person on the other end of the line. These hard-working, well-trained people are tired of being lumped in with the rare bad actor who gets media attention. ACA and its industry partners works year round with regulators and legislators to put any bad apples out of business, but by far, the vast majority of debt collectors play by the rules and just want to help consumers resolve their accounts amicably."
Bunton states supporting the Pledge is NACS's continued attempt to set the record straight with consumers across the nation regarding how the debt collection agencies do business. "I realize talk is cheap, but the numbers don't lie," he says, pointing out that less than 0.1 percent of the hundreds of millions of contacts between debt collectors and consumers each year result in formal complaints being filed with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau or other regulatory agencies.
"The media tends to play up the negative, sensational behavior that happens within our industry," he says. "That's what makes news. It doesn't make news that 99.9 percent of us do our very best every day to treat consumers the right way. What about the thousands of consumers we help every year? What about their credit ratings we help save and the positive advice we offer? What about the more than $40 billion we annually pump back into the U.S. economy every year? Or, what about the fact that debt collectors are the last line of defense against inflation? Where are those stories and headlines? "We're hoping the Collector's Pledge will continue to change the public's perception. For folks to know that we are here to help in these current difficult times."
NACS began its Chattanooga-based operations in 1981 with less than twenty employees, specializing in the professional collection of healthcare receivables. Today, NACS along with its affiliate company, Medical Services, is a full service healthcare revenue management, company; comprised of four specialized divisions with a growing workforce of over 300 employees.