Operations

Social Media Enhances Collections

But consider social networking sites a ‘view-only’ resource.

January 12, 2012
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

How to go about it

Even in view-only mode, social networking sites can yield a treasure trove of information, Dunn says. She advises taking these steps to mine the most valuable nuggets:

• Be familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Although this federal law governs third-party collectors (credit unions are first-party collectors), it can serve as a guideline for credit unions. Plus, many state collection laws are modeled after this act, Dunn says.

She expects the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to modify FDCPA—written in 1978—within a couple years to account for new technology, including social media. “FTC is looking into what to change and how to change it, namely to protect consumers but also to demonstrate how collectors can comply and still use this public information in an ethical and fair way.”

• Implement guidelines—if only a short list of bullet points—outlining how you’ll use social media in your collection efforts (i.e., not posting messages on someone’s Facebook wall).

Poll: Social media & collections
Your Say: Do you use social media to aid collections? Vote now.

• Select one person to glean information from members’ social networking sites, and set a time limit for this activity. “People can really get sucked into social media,” Dunn says. “So limit this to one hour a week or an hour a day depending on your credit union and how much volume you have.”

 Verify that you have the right person. Check the information you already have. Do the city, state, address, and/or phone number mesh with the person in question?

“There could be 50 Facebook pages for ‘Michelle Dunn;’ make sure you have the right one,” she says.

• Look for new phone numbers, addresses, places of employment, and other information, especially if the person’s phone has been disconnected or their mail is being returned. Also, check out the person’s photos in case you need to serve them with papers.

• Search second-tier social networking sites. There are many social networks for certain industries and interests.

“These sites provide more places to look for information,” Dunn says. “Often, Twitter accounts will list a description about the person and a web address. Sometimes this is their employer’s website or another social networking site."

Collections clients often ask Dunn which social network provides the best information. Her answer: It depends on your membership base.

“Some of my clients have customers that are 20 to 30 years old, and most of them are on Facebook and MySpace—but not LinkedIn,” she says. “You just have to determine where they hang out the most.”

Dunn continues to be amazed by how much information people share online.

“People really post their whole lives on these sites,” Dunn says. “They go into great detail. A lot of my clients are having great luck verifying information and getting new information on accounts that have skipped.”

She says some financial institutions now use social networking sites when making credit decisions: Verifying employment, home ownership, and other credit application information.

“They’re looking to see if everything matches up,” Dunn says. “They want to catch problems before extending credit.

“Social media is a great tool if you’re smart about how you use it,” she continues. “You don’t have to travel anywhere to get information, and it’s free.”

Subscribe to Credit Union Magazine

Post a comment to this story

heroes

What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive