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In Focus Collections

Skip tracing – a perspective from Pakistan

Ensuring that your staff are well trained and that your company is working as one can bring success when dealing with defaulting customers

Arif Shahzad Recovery officer, Pakistan arif_shahzad1975@

Skip tracing is the last and final recovery stage where a financial provider sees that they will have a significant problem because of a particular client, and legal action is impossible because the court cannot serve notice on them as the client has gone into hiding – addresses given for their home, office, and business references have been deserted; relatives, friends, and sometimes even family have no idea where they have gone. Tension is starting to rise and the

situation is becoming critical for the finance company, which starts to search for the client from east to west, north to south, and earth to sky! Here I will consider some obstacles that

are faced by the skip tracer and some reasons why a client might become a skipped defaulter.

A wide range When dealing with skipped defaulters, it is always striking that they have such varied profiles, from rich to poor, tedious to easy, slow-witted to sharp, lazy to diligent, well- dressed to badly dressed, of good and bad character, thieves to very civilised people, politicians to workers, clerks to directors, shop keepers to business men, minority to majority, religious people of all faiths, young to old, ill to healthy, soldiers to generals, ordinary people to presidents, lawyers to judges, and many more that I do not have time or space to list.

34 They come from all across society

and have simply carried out this act of misbehaviour, which is impossible for the client to let go.

Inexperienced staff Sometimes clients try to contact the company asking for statement and balance information on their loan, wanting to pay it off. But they need guidance so that they can pay it off in an easy way. Maybe they cannot pay the entire loan and charges at once because of a particular personal crisis. They do not want to become a defaulter, with all the associated difficulties of going

they will skip because they are telling a genuine story about their life and the collector has not been sympathetic to them. If the client believes that the finance

company is playing with their emotions, they will never pay the money back. On the other hand, if the member of staff

handles the case better by properly judging the client’s actual condition, then the client can even become a friend and will be happy to make the next payment without any need to chase it.

If the client believes that the finance company is playing with their emotions, they will never pay the money back

through the legal process, but they have their own emergency pressures. Perhaps their business has collapsed, or they have fallen ill, or lost their job. Whether they are a boy or girl, young or old, or even very religious, they might be very shy to discuss this with their lender because they consider them- selves a civilised person. If the client is not dealt with by a mature member of staff, then you can be sure that

Educate staff and clients Your staff need to have the right level of knowledge about company products to solve any client queries, and each collection officer should be responsible for their own portfolio of clients so that they can spot if an emergency is developing. Your clients also need to be educated to

fully understand the situation with the loan because, if they are unclear, then it is a red flag that a default is likely.

Cooperation at all levels I have certainly seen situations where there is a lack of cooperation between senior management and the lower staff levels, who actually know the client’s position well. If the collector on the telephone is

making every effort to solve a problem, but someone in higher management will not cooperate, then all the effort is ruined. CCR

February 2016

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