[The article below is by Mike Bevel, Director of Education for the Compliance Professionals Forum. It first appeared in our Compliance Weekly newsletter - a concise and witty rundown each Wednesday, giving you just what you need to know on the compliance front. If you'd like to subscribe to that publication, click here. Note: Mike has conversations with himself. Your mileage may vary; feel free to engage him in the comments.]

Michael.

Michael.

You're looking well.

I am very handsome.

We're talking today about call-baiting. Specifically, how I don't believe this is a thing that happens.

Okay, but it does. Listen to any call audit session and you may very well hear a collector being baited by a consumer.

What is call baiting?

Do you...really not know? It's that thing where a consumer calls and, knowingly, tries to direct the phone call in ways that will cause the collector to break the law. Then, you just sit back and enjoy the profits!

Like, for instance, this new "overshadowing" technique recently talked about in a Moss & Barnett podcast. Consumers are being trained to ask due-date questions during the validation period, and then suing for overshadowing afterwards.

So, it's less that the consumer baited the collector, and more that the collector made a mistake. (By the way, let's circle back on that podcast before we wrap-up.)

Prompted by the consumer. Let me beat you to your punch, Mike. I see where you're headed with this: that a person can't be tricked into breaking the rules if they know the rules. But a person can be tricked into any number of things! Human beings, at heart, want to be helpful because being helpful is a form of telling someone what to do. And we LOVE telling others what to do.

There's something disingenuous about consumers – and consumer attorneys, by the way – exploiting human nature for expensive lawsuits.

I guess what I worry about, though, is how "call-baiting" allows the responsibility of the infraction to not land anywhere. "It's not a problem with our training/trainers! It's call-baiting!" Or, "This call would have gone just fine if it wasn't for those meddling call-baiters!"

If you're not already doing so, I think it's a great practice to allot, like, 15 or 20 minutes each day on YouTube NOT watching old clips of Bobbie Gentry, but instead watching videos published by consumers and consumer advocates showing what steps to take to get out of paying a debt.

What is going on in that Bob--?

Strong scripting, too, will help collectors not make mistakes with the law. Knowing what these consumers are doing, and prepping for that, will help minimize your FDCPA suits.

And what about that podcast? You wanted to mention something?

Oh yeah! I love John Rossman. I do. And. I struggle with his suggestion that a collector can say, "This is past due. When can you pay?" Especially during the validation period. There is no guarantee, at that moment in time, that the person you're speaking to is the owner of the debt you're collecting. That's the whole point of that validation period, right? So saying, "It's past due. When can you pay?" feels...it's not how I run my non-existent collection agency, is how I'll finish this section. Am I wrong?


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