How to Make Collections Calls

Updated on March 8, 2020
Mark O Richardson profile image

Mark worked for almost 10 years in the collections industry including for auto loans and mortgages.

All of us, at one time or another, have owed someone or they have owed us money. The instructions here are useful to know if someone owes you money that you want back. Also, it can be helpful to know how to work with someone that you owe money to.

Many people are not aware of the details that go into collections work. Most people think that collectors must be mean to those that they are collecting from, in order to get money. This does not need to be the case. People who owe money are different types of people in many different types of situations.

Use some or all of the steps here at any time while collecting. Communication is a vital aspect of collections. To collect, you must be able to communicate effectively. If you use a plan as you do collections, you will be better equipped to get your money back from those that owe you or plan to do so.


Materials Needed

• Phone. Collections can be done in person, but over the phone is better.

• Paper and writing utensil, computer, or other recording device (to make notes on transactions or situations)


  1. Go over the payment history of the person you are talking to (if they have one). With this information, you can look for patterns and get a better idea of their situation.
  2. Figure out how much they owe.
  3. Find a situation to talk to them (by phone or in person). By phone is better for safety if they may get defensive or upset.
  4. Verify that you are speaking to the correct person (this is vital if by phone).
  5. Identify yourself.
  6. Greet them.
  7. Start off with short, casual conversation. For example, ask how they are, etc.
  8. Be kind/friendly (but don’t overdo it)
  9. Ask if they have paid yet. If not, ask for the payment. If they cannot pay right away, make payment arrangements. For some, an alternative may be to work off the debt instead of making a monetary payment.
  10. Suggest payment arrangement options if they cannot pay right away:
  • They can ask someone to help them (example: friends, family, etc.)
  • Anyone who owes them.
  • Overtime.
  • Second job.
  • Church.
  • In some cases, you can tactfully suggest that they hold a yard sale or sell things at a pawn shop.

Remember: They know their situation, so they can usually figure out where to get the funds from.

11. Be flexible; use understanding and empathy.

12. Maintain professionalism, even if they get upset.

13. Find out the reason that they are past due (if they are late in paying) or that they cannot pay right now.

14. Find out when they can pay.

15. Negotiate. If you haven't received the full payment, can a solution be found? For example: Installment payments. Do they need to look at other sources of funds (step 10)? Be considerate of their circumstances.

16. Resolve any concerns that they have about their situation or about making the payment.

17. Restate and review what you have worked out with them.

18. Close the conversation.

19. Document: Keep track of what you have discussed/worked out, etc.

20. If they have not paid in full, you should follow up often, depending on the situation. This can vary from every few days to every few weeks. This will let them know that you are aware, and it will not let them forget.


Much of the ability to do collections comes with practice and experience. If you follow these steps, you can increase the odds of collecting the money that is owed to you. If you handle yourself and the situation correctly, you can avoid bad feelings. If you are unsuccessful in collecting, you may want to try to get more experience, and maybe you can work something out with them later.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Mark Richardson


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