5 Essential Questions for Choosing Your Perfect Collection Agency Partner

person holding a fan of us dollar bills

In a survival situation, one of the initial lessons learned is to avoid drinking from stagnant water sources. The rationale behind this caution is that stagnant water is more likely to harbor disease-causing agents when it lacks movement. The analogy extends to the business landscape as well. Companies that remain stagnant or fail to evolve are at risk of falling behind. In light of recent regulations concerning consumer communications, surprise billing laws, and consumer protections, collection agencies must operate with both vigilance and compassion in today’s financial climate.

The cornerstone of success lies in effective communication. A well-functioning collection agency operates akin to a finely tuned sea vessel. Issues ascend the hierarchy, reaching the captain for resolution. Urgent concerns are promptly addressed, and protocols become ingrained norms among the crew. When businesses seek a collection agency partnership, these practices emerge as critical features to consider. However, they can also pose challenges during the vetting process.

1. How does your company handle first validation notices and mail return?

One of the most important aspects of debt collection is making sure that a consumer in connection with a debt is aware of certain key details. Validating the debt with the consumer is of the utmost importance. According to ftc.gov, the validation of debts is as follows:

“Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing –

  • The amount of the debt;
  • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
  • A statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
  • A statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector;
  • A statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.”

2. How long would it take your company to respond to communications from our company?

During sales calls with prospective clients inquiring about our services, I often hear a common complaint: “The previous agency we worked with was slow to respond and never got back with us.” While there could be various reasons for this, maintaining open and clear communication with clients is crucial. In fact, it’s one of the key factors that distinguishes top-notch agencies from mediocre ones. This is a key feature to triage when searching for a collection agency to partner with.

3. Does your company utilize a practice called “debt parking”?

In football, specific offensive plays are strategically executed to draw the defense offsides. These plays, meticulously designed to deceive the defense, are often slipped into the play calling during critical moments of the game. Now, imagine if the offense possessed the ability to manipulate the line of scrimmage, causing the defense to consistently line up offsides on every play. This scenario mirrors the concept of “debt parking,” which is fundamentally flawed. Fortunately, in today’s financial landscape, regulatory bodies exist to safeguard against practices like debt parking. The collections of provisions outlined within acts such as the FDCPA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, play a crucial role in protecting consumers. According to an article or blog from ftc.gov entitled “Setting the Debt Parking Brake,” debt parking is “…the practice of placing purported debts on consumers’ credit reports without first attempting to communicate with the consumer about the debt.” The article goes on to mention that “Consumers often don’t learn about it until a mortgage company, prospective employer, or other decision maker pulls their credit report and spots what appears to be an unpaid debt. With a house, car, or job in the balance, many people feel pressured to pay up – even though they may not actually owe the money.”

4. What is your process for handling disputes?

Handling disputes properly and professionally may be one of the most important aspects in the collection industry. If a collection agency is only focused on returns, then they leave themselves vulnerable to lawsuits and may find themselves violating the rights of consumers under the FDCPA. After validation of the debt, a consumer has the right to send a dispute letter within 30 days. From that point, the collection agency must stop collecting on any amount that is disputed until they send the consumer information to show they owe the debt. For more information on this please visit the “Debt Collection FAQs” on ftc.gov’s website.

5. How long does the average employee work for your company?

At Tavelli Co., we firmly believe that a company’s commitment to valuing its employees and investing time, resources, and effort into the hiring process can significantly impact the work environment and enhance satisfaction rates for outbound calls. Recently, during a phone conversation, I encountered a situation where one of our new hires was praised for their kindness. Interestingly, another employee was also mentioned, as their spirit reminded the caller of the first individual. This alignment is not coincidental. As a company, one of our primary objectives is to complement our clients, recognizing that many perceive us as an extension of their own business. Consequently, we prioritize demonstrating kindness and professionalism in every interaction. For instance, consider a scenario where a client, perhaps a dentist, must send someone to collections—a person with whom they’ve built a professional relationship over the years. Collection agencies, in a way, become an extension of the clients they represent. Therefore, our goal is to nurture and maintain these existing relationships.

This commitment extends to our internal climate as well. We’ve witnessed employees remain with us for years, even decades. Our hope is that each team member feels genuinely valued, ensuring that no one leaves work burdened by the ethos of our company or the daily routine. Consequently, when seeking a collection agency to partner with, it’s crucial to consider their turnover rate. After all, the people who comprise a company reveal much about its character.


While this article is not exhaustive, nor does it claim to be the ultimate authority on these matters, it does shed light on key critical issues in the collection’s world. Often, prospective clients find themselves bewildered when seeking a reputable collection agency. They’re unsure where to start. In addition to verifying proper licensing and credentials for each agency, consider these five essential topics or questions. They will guide your initial investigation and help you find the ideal collection agency to partner with. For more information, or if your company is inquiring about ongoing debt collection training in California, feel free to contact us at (707) 509-5565.


Tavelli Co., Inc. has over 40 years of unparalleled experience in the debt collection and receivables management industry. Our mission is to achieve the right balance between getting clients paid and being empathetic to debtor circumstances, through implementing innovative practices, hiring experienced people, and improving business decisions through analytics. We provide peace of mind to all involved by collecting money with no complaints. Tavelli Co., Inc. takes the time to carefully listen to your customers and share their feedback with you through meaningful data and transparent communication, so you have access to the information you need to make quality decisions and improve your processes in the future. Contact us today and let the debt collection experts at Tavelli Co., Inc. help you set your business up for success.

IMPORTANT: Information provided by Tavelli Co., Inc., any employees of Tavelli Co., Inc., or its subsidiaries is not intended as legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area, nor should it be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.

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