Here's Why So Many Debt Collectors Keep Failing The 'Show Me Test'

Industry secret: many debt collectors do not even have a copy of the contract they are ultimately trying to enforce.

Debt collectors are busy people. The typical daily workload for a debt collector may entail trying to contact hundreds, if not thousands, of past-due accounts at once.

Certain technologies such as robo-dialing software and email mail merge make this kind of scale doable for an individual debt collector.

For example, if a debt collector shows up to work one morning and finds a list of a thousand accounts she is to contact that day, she could simply load that list into her robo-dialing software and let the software do the dialing in the background, calling each "debtor" one at a time until, finally, someone on that list picks up and says "hello." At that point, the collector could grab the phone and begin a conversation with the debtor live. This workflow excuses the collector from having to spend the time it would otherwise take to dial each phone number, one at a time, most of which would be wasted due to the call not being answered on the other end, and thereby allow the collector to only spend time with the phone in her hand when she is actually talking to someone live.

Similarly, the collector could load that same list into a mail merge program to compose 1,000 individual email messages at once. Each message could include certain details specific to that message's recipient--say, the recipient's account number associated with the merchant who gave the account to the debt collector. The result from the individual recipient's perspective could be an email message that does not blatantly reflect the fact that the same, templated email message was sent to 1,000 different people at once.

"After careful consideration of the contract..."

Here's an example of such an email message sent by a debt collector:

Mr. Krzyzewski,
After careful consideration of the contract in place our client has agreed the best alternative is to commence legal actions to force compliance.  Such action carries a cost which will ultimately be passed along to you therefore. As previously advised our office has been requested to intercede in the above referenced matter Should you wish to avoid the time trouble and expense, in addition to any notices to any regulatory agencies, it is necessary to contact our office today to arrange voluntary terms.
Please be advised our office has been requested to intercede in the above referenced matter. Direct all communications to our attention
We would like to thank you for your time and look forward to your anticipated cooperation
Gary Lamp
Legal Assistant
The Law Offices of Pucin & Friedland, P.C.
935 National Parkway Suite 40
Schaumburg, IL 60173
(630) 237-3625 Direct
(866) 796-1654 Direct Fax

Now, someone might receive that email message shown above, read its body, and have the reasonable impression that--as the email message actually states--this debt collector is sending this email communication after "careful consideration" of "the contract in place[.]"

The truth, though, is that neither the debt collector who sent this email message (i.e. Gary Lamp) nor the debt collection agency he purports to represent (i.e. The Law Offices of Pucin & Friedland, P.C.) likely spent any time before that email message was sent actually reviewing the specific contract between the recipient of that email message and the merchant from whom the debt collector obtained the account.

In fact, as the next few email messages in that thread suggest, it is highly likely that the debt collector never even had a copy of the contract his email message said had been carefully considered.

(Although it is not the point of this article to focus on the debt collection industry's deservedly bad reputation for making false and misleading statements to debtors, one implication of the debt collector's use of the phrase "After careful consideration of the contract[,]" of course, might be that it was plainly misleading, as the subsequent email messages exchanged in that thread strongly suggest.)