The Credit Collection Industry by Julianne Frank

It’s The Algorithm, My Friend

You are a collector troll. You sit in a tiny carrol in a monstrous room with your screen glowing, your quota looming and your headset firmly affixed. Your job is to shame poor schlubs on the other end of the line into paying your client, the big-box credit card company. Your training consisted of two hours and a test on the basics of collection law. You mostly passed, and they set you loose.

Your victim today is an 80-year-old man, 6 months delinquent. We’ll call him “Sam”. Your computer screen tells you that Sam has a car loan on a 7-year-old car. He has six other credit cards, five of them are reporting bad. There’s no sign that he owns any real estate. You probe and cajole poor Sam. You’re feeling a little brave so you become invasive, asking Sam whether he might get help from his family to pay your client's bill. While you’re talking, the settlement parameters menu pops up on your screen, you enter Sam’s data, push a key and your clients algorithm goes to work. Actuarial interface processing. Recovery statistics digesting.

Your screen dings and the algorithm is flashing a message: “You are authorized to offer 25% of the balance and accept down to 10%”. The algorithm has decided there is a low probability of recovery from Sam, so it is telling you to settle for pennies.

I am Sam’s lawyer, and I know your game. My client will not be paying you a dime, because I won’t play your game. Here is what I tell you: Sam is immune to your threats. He owns no visible assets. He gets Social Security and help from his kids. His jalopy is not worth the cost of your repo and we both know your client is not about to go out of pocket to file a lawsuit against a low prospect target.

Thus, my conversation with you is brief. “My client is uncollectable. Sorry, Ms. Collector. I can’t help you make your quota today”.

But I know that you or someone like you will call Sam again. I give Sam a script to recite when the next collector troll calls. Sam used to be in vaudeville. He loves his script.