One of the most common and well-used tactics by consumer advocates and legislators when looking to illustrate the unscrupulous side of the collections and debt-buying industries is to share the oft-heartbreaking stories of those who were taken advantage of. The 90-year old grandmother, the single mom of three who is struggling to make ends meet.
Now, the industry is looking to share some of the many stories of individuals whose lives they have helped. Every debt buyer and collection agency has received thank you notes and letters from consumers who have been helped by payment plans, settlement offers, and the chance to rebuild credit and lives. DBA International has started an effort among its members seeking to collect those testimonials and put together a databank that it can use when it meets with regulators and legislators across the country.
“We’ve had a number of meetings with regulators over the past several years where they indicated it would have been helpful if the industry had testimonials from consumers about how we helped get them back on their financial footing,” said David Reid, the director of government affairs and policy at DBA International. “Our initial goal is to collect testimonials and use them when we meet with legislators and regulators. If we’re meeting with legislators in Kansas, we would like to be able to pull testimonials from Kansas residents and show them during those meetings.”
It is believed to be the first such effort of its kind in the industry. DBA is asking participants to scrub any personal information, such as account numbers, first and last names (participants are being asked to submit entries with the first initial of the first and last name of the individual who submitted the note), and city of residence, from the testimonials to maintain the privacy and anonymity of the individuals.
Depending on the success of the program, Reid said that DBA may entertain opening it up to non-members. But for now, the program is only available to DBA members.
“One of our members said type of program has been needed for a long time,” Reid said.