For the ability to elicit a pure jaw-dropping reaction to a news story, the award today goes — again — to the New York Times for its story on a debt collector to the dead.
Even better for those of us in the constant search for the elusive local angle, it involves a debt collection firm in Minneapolis (Golden Valley) — DCM Services, which — the story says — specializes in calling the distraught relatives of the recently departed.
Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry. Those who dun the living say that people are so scared and so broke it is difficult to get them to cough up even token payments.
Collecting from the dead, however, is expanding. Improved database technology is making it easier to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3,000 probate courts, giving collectors an opportunity to file timely claims. But if there is no formal estate and thus nothing to file against, the human touch comes into play.
For those who survive, many tools help them deal with stress: yoga classes and foosball tables, a rotating assortment of free snacks as well as full-scale lunches twice a month.
Most new employees don’t make it past 90 days and for those that do, there’s yoga classes and foosball tables, free snacks, and full-scale lunches twice a month. (The company says it was named one of the best collection places to work.)
The company gets no love from the people who commented on the article. Says one:
I have personally spoken with several people from DCM while helping my daughter sort through the mess that her father’s suicide left. No matter how “nice” the person was on the other end of the phone, the industry is preying on the innocent. It speaks volumes of the state of this country when debt collectors masquerade as “grief counselors”.
If you work or have worked for a debt collection agency, I want to talk to you.