Revenue offices in local, state and federal departments often make the mistake of passing their delinquent accounts over to third-party collection services too early, and too often. The reason why is a common one: Agencies are experts in their ability to reach debtors, accelerate recovery, and comply efficiently with laws and industry regulations. Of course, that’s not an inaccurate chain of logic – Outsourcers like these are successful because they’re good at what they do, and get results for their clients. But believe it or not, you have a few secret weapons at your disposal that agencies can’t access, and you should take advantage of them to encourage payments and save on costs.
Primarily, government departments often have tactics available to them that private collection agencies don’t, including intercepting tax refunds – perhaps the most successful collection tool unique to governments – and/or blocking tag renewals or drivers’ licenses. Using employment information can also be useful in determining a debtor’s ability to pay, and governments often have other databases to obtain up-to-date contact information. Pulling these levers often means you have more precise information when building contact strategies, and factors available that motivate payments.
Several years ago, for example, the California Franchise Tax Board worked with the Federal Treasury Offset Program (FTOP) to incorporate a debt collections program, where they intercepted federal refunds for payment of past-due California income tax debts. A limited study concluded that after less than three years into implementation, the program helped them collect more than $22 million.
What in your state, county or city may be available to you for collection enforcement? Ask yourself:
- Are there government databases available to procure updated contact information, at no cost?
- Are there government services that can be suspended?
- Are there funds available to your department to cover your collections costs?
A recent conversation with a successful government collections department indicated a sizeable reimbursement every year from their state had helped them fund many of their collection innovation goals. They also indicated most of the counties in their state were not taking advantage of the available funds. Make sure you thoroughly review available means that can help your operation perform more efficiently – it can often mean the difference between having to pass an account off to a third party, and keeping it in-house where you can reap more of the rewards that make for well-funded community programs.
Using these resources effectively enables operations like yours to understand which accounts are most likely to bring in more revenue, providing for a more focused collections strategy. That provides better funding to automate your work even further – especially when used in tandem with self-funded collections – while you centralize, and make collections a more focused and valuable part of your department’s overall service to constituents. That’s the ultimate goal, one that deserves to be a worthy candidate for the many resources available to you that aren’t for many of the partners government offices choose to employ.
For more information on additional ways you can maximize your in-house collection efforts, read the full ebook 8 Ways Government Offices Collect More, and Avoid Unnecessary Outsourcing.
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