Debt collection is a difficult job and never more so than when your debtor seemingly disappears without trace.

‘Gone-Away’, ‘Addressee Unknown’, bounced emails and unanswered telephone calls are all worrying signs for any business waiting for payment of an invoice. 

Tracing agents are experts in tracking down missing debtors but before you resort to employing the services of a specialist debt collection agency, there are ways you can prevent customers from vanishing in the first place.

  1. At the beginning of every transactional relationship, you should capture as many contact details as possible.  Make sure you have the correct phone numbers (switchboard, extension numbers and mobile) and email addresses for multiple contacts within the company. 
  2. When asking for address information for credit accounts, ask for previous addresses as well as current.  If your customer is using a virtual address or serviced office, ask for registered office details, home address, previous trading addresses or the address connected to their bank account, especially when supplying goods to start-up businesses.  It is always wise to confirm those details are correct against other sources which can easily be done online and with Companies House. Do confirm all spellings and numbers with your customer too.
  3. Keeping in frequent contact with customers is essential.  Whenever you need to communicate with your contacts, make sure you alternate between phone, email and post where possible.  This way, you can keep all details up-to-date.  For those customers who don’t order frequently, keep in touch with newsletters and updates.  Your marketing department should feed back to you if any email communications aren’t opened or bounce.
  4. Periodically carry out data cleansing activities to verify personal details.  If you don’t want to engage a telemarketing company to do this for you, introduce a process whereby your contacts are asked to confirm their details every few months in routine conversations.
  5. Be alert to any changes in delivery addresses if these differ from the addresses you hold on your system for invoicing.  Keep a record of delivery locations as these could come in useful when employing the services of a tracing agency.

All of these actions will not only help you spot suspicious activity, it will also give you, and your tracing agent, all the information they need to track down a missing debtor.  By arming your debt collection agency with a comprehensive history of contact details and conversations, they will be able to use their sources more effectively for search.  To find out more about how Tracing Agents can help , contact P&J.