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Sep 26 2018
Debt Recovery

Locating an online client for an outstanding debt

Technology, and especially the Internet, has changed the way we do business. Many more people are establishing themselves as self-employed, and operating home-based businesses using their computer or mobile device. Client leads are often generated, and orders are placed and fulfilled, entirely online without the two parties ever meeting face to face.

While this has many benefits, it also carries big risks. If a client or customer fails to pay their bill or clear their debt, you may have the added problem of locating them before you can take further action. Thankfully, help is at hand with debt recovery specialists, like those at First Capitol Collections, who can track down your client and get them to settle their account.

Take steps yourself to stay safe

Hopefully, you can avoid ever needing to chase down debt by having a secure and robust working practice. Before taking work from a new client, make sure you have their name and contact details: and search the web to see if they are indeed who they claim to be. LinkedIn and Facebook are great tools for this – along with Companies House, if you are working with a registered company.

Make sure you have a contract in place too, which clearly outlines the terms of the work and the expected date for payment. Your invoice should also be clear about expected payment schedules.

Chasing a debt online

If an online customer fails to honour their debt, and you have a contract or other agreement in place which you can evidence, then you need to call the debt collection agency First Capitol Collections. We can start the process of locating your debtor, using known contact details, electoral methods, credit reports and other methods. We can then pursue that debtor and recover your funds.

Sending a debt to collections can be daunting for a small business or self-employed trader. You may be worried about harming the business relationship, or concerned about the cost of recovery action. However, many times our clients go on to have a continued relationship with their debtors, once the account has been settled – and we charge our fees to debtors, not creditors, with commission only taken in the event of a successful recovery.

Lost without a trace: when clients go under the radar

Doorstep debt recovery can be a highly effective way to regain owed funds from clients. But what happens when the person answering the door is not the debtor at all, and your client seems to have vanished off the face of the earth? Indeed, once a financial agreement has reached the collections stage, a lack of engagement from clients is perhaps the greatest barrier to repayment. Once your client has left town, changed their number and maybe even changed their name, it becomes extremely difficult to regain what is rightfully yours.

If client engagement has become unmanageable and expensive, it may be time to outsource your credit control. A reputable external collections agency will have the necessary industry knowledge and investigative skills to follow the data-trail of breadcrumbs left by almost any debtor. Not only this, but any reputable debt recovery service will be aware of the data they can – and importantly, cannot – obtain legally. If you value your business and reputation, you should be certain to select a credit collections agency that has done their homework on legal compliance. Whilst it is legal to investigate the whereabouts of a runaway debtor, it is certainly not legal to harass or bully an individual.

So, what kind of data might be useful and appropriate when trying to trace a client? If bank accounts and mobile phone contracts have been closed, it is likely that these will be reopened at a later date. The bank will then notify the credit reference agencies of the individual’s address. Also, if individuals opt for a Royal Mail redirection of their post, this information can sometimes be obtained from Royal Mail. Moreover, an individual’s energy payments are often included on their credit record. This kind of data can indicate whether the client is still living in the UK. Hiring a tracing agent can be an invaluable investment, as agents will be able to source up-to-date contact information for your client – thereby facilitating renewed dialogue over the outstanding debt.

It is unlikely that a debtor could remain under the radar indefinitely, especially if you engage the services of a reputable collections agency like First Capitol to help keep communication lines open. The most effective way to work with debtors is, of course, to offer them manageable and appropriate payment solutions so that there is no need to hide.

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