We have to have them in order to survive in our industry and we jump through hoops to get them and some jump through flaming hoops with spikes and shooting arrows aimed at their heads to keep them. It’s because we can’t successfully work without them, that I decided to put together this short guide of what you need to have established before you apply.
At no time should you ever feel like your opportunity for reapplying to a database is null and void for the rest of your professional career. There are some that will shut you and your company out forever if you violate their terms and conditions or fall outside of the permissible use of data for which you’ve been granted access and then shut you out conditionally while you rectify an issue of compliance. Recently I spoke to a group of Texas process servers and explained the Black List which is shared between professional databases, I’ll link to the video so you can watch it in full.
Here we go:
All credit-related data products that are worth having in my industry of repossessions and collections require a subscriber to be commercially zoned. Experian was the very last of the big bureaus to shut out home-based business access citing that it was high risk and get out or get an office.
If a database requires a site inspection or you to give them photos of your office area, make sure there’s a shredder insight. You may not have one or you may line your guinea pig cage with closed files and then toss them into the garbage or fire in the backyard, but have a shredder on site. Just remember that meth addicts are known to have the patience of Job to reconstruct a page that would give identifying details for identity theft.
Phone Listed in 411
I’ve moved completely away from landline service in my area. The cost is too high and debtors don’t call me anyway, but your business must be listed in 411 information. The easiest way to achieve this is to use Listyourself.net. It’s free and reliable, you’ll also be able to edit your address if you move to a new location. Make sure to check your listing because you may need to go back and submit it again. I’ve had this happen in the past and I’ve read this is the number one malfunction of an otherwise perfect solution to obtain a foreign listing.
Debtors need to be able to find you and while this may be pertaining to credit and collection businesses, it makes good sense to have a sign on the road to bring new customers to your business. If you’re unable to have a road sign then you’ll want a lobby sign and a sign on your office door.
Locking Filing Cabinet
Leaving nothing to chance for an easy grab if you’re office is burglarized, your tangible assets may not be all your intruder is after. Most of us are required to keep assignments for a minimum of three years in hard copy format which means a locking filing cabinet on and off-site.
My office building provides a security system at the main door and video surveillance in every hallway in our building. Most will have this type of security for tenants but if you’re a home-based business, video surveillance and an alarm system would be a good investment.
No, it doesn’t matter that you’re retired law enforcement and the only other thing that data providers don’t care about are your guard dogs. Additional security to cover in your home and your office are locking doors and password-protected computers.
Having the correct type of insurance coverage for your permissible purpose is essential anyway, but you need to have your coverage and bonds in place first and if you’re required to file them with your state’s secretary of state make sure you get a Statement of Fact returned to you. This is a certificate that your state gives you to provide to others that proves you’ve registered your coverage with the state.
Proving your experience to any person whom you have a conversation with is easy. You can talk shop and use key terms which will pass the interview phase but if you’re starting out in the collections industry then data providers will need to confirm that you have the hands-on experience to be able to ethically conduct business and not be a high-risk subscriber.
Ways that you can do this are to join associations in your sector, NAPPS for process servers, the regional association for investigations, credit and collections, repossessions and any other industry that has a membership roster available online.
Another way is to have your website built as soon as you know you’re going to work for yourself. Don’t prevent Archive.org from indexing your site and use this as a way to document your existence on the Internet. Have one or a few accounts in a business name so you establish the existence of that business even though you don’t use that company name. My first account was my Sam’s Wholesale business account card in the name Auto Repo. If that doesn’t show what I do for a living, then nothing will.
by Valerie McGilvrey