Our company is a debt buyer. We are 100 percent outsourced. We don’t have any internal collections ourselves. I’ve been with Fourscore for five years. They’ve been in business for about 10 years, and I’ve been in the industry since 1993.
Two things are really great about this council. One is that you get to meet different people of different types. You’ve got lenders, you’ve got attorneys, you’ve got collection agencies. We’re all in the same business, but we don’t necessarily have an opportunity to talk about each of the things that we do. It’s nice to have an opportunity in an environment where you can actually have a conversation, as opposed to the conferences, which are so stretched for time with meetings with people that you already do business with. So from that standpoint, it’s been great.
It’s also been great that over time, a lot of the products that have come out through Experian — it’s as if you’ve “born” these. You’ve seen the ideas that you put forward, and Experian actually takes some of those ideas and concepts and turns them into products that work. That’s been exciting to be able to do that.
I was actually one of the beta users of the Collection Advantage product. That’s how long I’ve been involved with it and doing everything that’s been growing from it since then. We’ve used Experian, not only from the Collection Advantage and Debt Portfolio Evaluator, and, again, Debt Evaluator was born out of these conferences. Along with that, we’ve used them for some modeling, some scoring, some validation of things that we think and do to see if it really turns into money. It’s been able to be a good consultant to us instead of providing just the credit products that everyone knows about.
Experian’s greatest strength is their people — their salespeople, the marketing group, the sales group, the support people. They’re not trying to sell you a product. They’re actually trying to be a help to you. They want to help you do business. It’s not just about trying to be able to sell you something. They do a great job of being your partner — of saying, “Hey, how does this work? Is it working for you? Here’s something else that we can do. Will this do more?” They ask for feedback; they want to know, if it’s not working, why? How can we make this better? And that takes them to a step above what the other guys do.
I’m somewhat jaded because I’m a past president of the DBA, and so I’ve spent a lot of time in Washington facing a lot of the same battles and playing with a lot of the same guys as Tony has, so that’s near and dear to my heart. What we’re finding on that level is that the consumer advocates are being more effective at the state level, where they’re going to the attorney generals and doing state attacks. State by state, they’re trying to change the laws to make it more difficult to collect or to be a debt buyer. In those areas, they can make it happen a lot faster, and you need to know about it. On a national level, you can see the stuff coming. On the state level, it’s been very quick and very difficult to keep up with. A lot of the laws are even more extreme. In the state of New York, they were trying to pass a law to say that you can no longer collect on a debt if it’s more than three years old. It’s just a terrible thing to have something like that happen. It was literally within a few weeks of a vote — pieces of it — passing. That’s very scary for us as an industry.
We do rely heavily on information that we get from Experian for updating our information on our debtors. As we outsource those to our clients, we update the information. We’re willing to make the investment because we think we get the return on that by updating the addresses and phone numbers for our agencies. On the debt that we have, a lot of which is older, the ROI is very difficult because you don’t have as much invested on it and the liquidation rates are so much less. So we found a good partnership with Experian to be able to get some updated information and utilize the current information that’s there to help our agencies do a better job for us. That’s been a great help to us as a company.
Experian, they’re a great group. They’re so large. They have so much impact. One of the things that came out of this council is that Experian has so much interesting economic data because of what’s happening, about people. Are they getting mortgages? Are mortgages being applied for? Are cars being applied for? They have so much today, “right now” economic data. I would rely more on that information than what I’m getting from the news and other sources that are getting quoted. I would love to see Experian be able to bring some more of that information back to us and say here’s what’s good or bad in what’s happening in the economy. Because of all of the reporting to Experian, because of how it’s used and all of the information, you’ve got a closer pulse of today than most other information sources do.