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The Predictive Dialer - Does It Have a Place in Collections?

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May 04, 2011

The Predictive Dialer - Does It Have a Place in Collections?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Predictive dialers are something that can have an adverse effect on a person, yet call and contact centers throughout the global marketplace rely on this technology because it offers ease, convenience and the speed needed in order get a live person on the line. 

This recent insideARM piece focused on the opinion of Donald A. Yarbrough and his firm’s dislike for the predictive dialer. His thoughts emerged at a panel discussion at the FTC (News - Alert) Debt Collection 2.0 conference focused on telephone technologies. The primary question being addressed was how debt collectors use the phone to contact those who owe money. 

Yarbrough stressed that calling the wrong party is a pretty big problem, even referring to it as pervasive. And, it is safe to assume that no organization will ever get an absolutely clean call-list, one in which every name on it has the correct debt associated with it. People do move, change first or last names, change phone numbers, etc. 

Based on Yarbrough’s assessments of the predictive dialer, it would be best if no one was ever called by a debt collector. Some of the other panel members were on the opposite side of the fence, and would likely allow the collector to call as often as possible until the debt was resolved. The end result must be a happy medium, whether the predictive dialer is in use or not. 

Appropriate changes in law or policy were shared by each member of the panel, and Yarbrough suggested that an absolute verbal or verifiable contact should be made on the very first call, before assigning that phone number to a predictive dialer. Others suggested guidance on harassment and parameters for what an appropriate number of calls to an alleged debtor should be.

A quick appearance in the predictive dialer discussion was also made by foti, a case restricting what can and can’t be said to a debtor in a voice-mail communication. The writer considers this case to be an “obnoxiously convoluted” case for the collection industry where the predictive dialer makes sense. 

This case requires collectors to clearly identify themselves in voice-mail messages left to alleged debtors. It can also be used against a collection agency if the message where the collection agency identifies itself as such, is overheard by a second party not connected to the debt. There is still no clear understanding as to how to approach Foti on any given day and those in collections are still simply trying to do their job, predictive dialer or not, by collecting on a debt that is owed.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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