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This is the first post in a new blog series highlighting the importance of text messaging for debt collections and what ARM businesses need to stay compliant.


Text messaging for debt collections might seem like a bridge too far. But it’s entirely within reach today.


Maybe you haven’t made the leap because you’re uncomfortable with the idea of going digital. You aren’t sure how to avoid the pitfalls (of which there are many). You’re hoping that at some point, texting will become less of a compliance risk.


Let’s face it. If you’re waiting for just the right moment to start texting, you never will—to the ongoing detriment of your business.


Communication technologies continue to advance at lightning speed and change the way businesses and consumers interact. Relying solely on letters and phone calls to reach consumers is no way to operate, much less get ahead in the marketplace. In fact, playing it safe may be the greatest threat to your business long term.


Still wavering on the idea of texting consumers? Here’s why you need to act, and act soon.


3 Reasons Why Text Messaging Is Essential for Collections and ARM Industry Success

To achieve breakout success in 2020, you need an omnichannel communications strategy that includes text messaging. The benefits of going digital, and the downsides of ignoring these channels, are too great to ignore.


1. The World Has Gone Mobile

In 2017, according to CTIA (formerly the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association), Americans used 16.7 trillion megabytes of data. That’s 40 times the volume of traffic in 2010. In just one year (2017–2018), mobile data usage in the U.S. increased by 82%.


CTIA’s 2018 report reflects not only a growing shift to 5G and surge in data-only devices including connected cars and wearables, but also the widespread use of text messaging as a preferred method of communication. In 2018, 2 trillion text messages were exchanged—the equivalent of 63,000 per second. Of those 2 trillion text messages, 95% were opened within a few minutes of receipt.


There’s no pretending these trends aren’t relevant to the ARM industry. Texting is, far and away, the best way to reach consumers and engage them effectively.


2. Texting Offers Unparalleled Advantages

Not only is text messaging more cost effective than other types of communication, but it can help improve efficiency by offering consumers a convenient way to manage their accounts and make payments without having to interact with a person. This frees collection teams to pursue higher priority accounts as needed, helping boost revenue recovery across the board.


“You’re in trouble with a credit card. You’re behind, and the company keeps chasing you with letters and calls, which you stopped trying to deal with weeks back. It’s 89 days in of the 90-day window before things go to a deeper level of seriousness.


And then you get a text, which you answer. And before long, you have come to an arrangement with the finance company you were too stressed out/ashamed/embarrassed to call back.”


Quality of engagement matters, too. By offering consumers a channel they want and getting their permission to communicate via text, you can provide a positive experience that exceeds their expectations and leave them more inclined to work with you on outstanding debts.


Almost immediately, you’ll be operating at less cost and improving your collection results through better customer service. As a result, you’ll become “stickier” to your existing clients and a force to be reckoned with in your industry.


3. Texting Technology Can Simplify Compliance Management

Texting for debt collections is complicated. Your program will be subject to CTIA requirements, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and other applicable laws. You’ll need to draft your terms and conditions, consider opt-in/opt-out requirements, and manage consent with the utmost precision.


Believe it or not, this is all very manageable—even day to day, on an ongoing basis.


Your first step is to determine how your program will satisfy your business needs and strategies as well as all legal and industry requirements that apply. Sounds daunting, but a good legal partner and an automated, compliance-minded text messaging platform—technology that’s readily available today—are all you need to minimize your risks, reduce your operating burdens, and position your business for accelerated growth.


If You Plan to Text, You Won’t Want to Miss These RMAI Sessions

If you’ll be traveling to Las Vegas next week for RMAI, I hope you’ll join Ontario Systems Chief Compliance Officer Rozanne Andersen for these two sessions. She and her fellow panelists will tackle digital communications in more detail and share some important insights and practical tips you can use to get started with texting. (You can find brief session descriptions and panelist bios on the RMAI 2020 Agenda page.)


  • The New World Order—Communicating with Consumers via Email and Text—What You Need to Know (with Mike Cantrell, Solutions By Text): Wednesday, February 5, 3:00–3:50 p.m., Juniper 2
  • Current Issues in Receivables Management (with Tomio Narita, Simmonds & Narita LLP, and Jackson Walker, Resurgent Capital Services): Thursday, February 6, 9:00–10:50 a.m., Juniper 2


In the meantime, be sure to read our newly revised and updated eBook, Ready to Text 2.0: The Collection Professional’s Guide to Compliant Communication in 2020. You’ll learn the basics of text messaging, how to navigate compliance issues, and what recent landmark decisions could mean for you.


Don’t miss the other blog posts in this series:


For more insights and tips you can use to accelerate your success in the ARM market, subscribe to the OS blog. We’ll deliver high-value content straight to your inbox.



Ready to Text in 2020?

Text messaging for collections is complicated. It’s also mission critical. Our brief ARM industry texting guide, newly updated for 2020, has the insights and advice you need to get your digital communications program up and running.


Don’t get left behind. Download your copy today!

Disclaimer: Ontario Systems is a technology company and provides this blog article solely for general informational and marketing purposes. You should not rely on the content of this material for any other purpose or as specific guidance for your company. Ontario Systems’ advice, services, tools and products described herein do not guarantee compliance with any law or industry standard. You are ultimately responsible for your own company’s actions and compliance efforts. Because everyone’s situation is different, you must consult your own attorneys, accountants, and/or other advisors to obtain specific advice on your company’s compliance, legal, tax, regulatory and/or other business needs. Despite Ontario Systems’ efforts to provide current and up-to-date information, you need to recognize that the information contained herein may become outdated quickly and may contain errors and/or other inaccuracies.

© 2020 Ontario Systems, LLC. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change. Reproduction of this publication is not permitted without the express permission of Ontario Systems, LLC.

Posted by Mike Meyer

Mike Meyer, Vice President and General Manager at OS, has spent 28 years in the ARM and Federal Government markets, specializing in large, complex business applications and implementations. An in-depth working knowledge of all Ontario Systems’ products and solutions – from collection systems to telephony – has made Mike an industry leader not only in technology, but overall strategy and operations. Mike began his career with Ontario Systems in the client services division before moving to sales, where he served as a regional sales manager and senior director. Mike’s expertise in both marketing and technology capitalizes on his technical acumen, and ability to understand its effective application with Ontario Systems clients.
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