What Bill and Account Collectors Do
Bill and account collectors try to recover payment on overdue bills.
Many bill and account collectors work in a call center for a third-party collection agency rather than the original creditor. Most work full time, and some have flexible schedules.
How to Become a Bill and Account Collector
Collectors usually must have a high school diploma. A few months of on-the-job training is common.
The median annual wage for bill and account collectors was $37,000 in May 2019.
Employment of bill and account collectors is projected to decline 6 percent from 2019 to 2029. Automation of collections work is expected to continue to reduce employment for these workers.
Bill and account collectors try to recover payment on overdue bills. They negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier.
Bill and account collectors typically do the following:
- Find consumers and businesses who have overdue bills
- Track down consumers who have an out-of-date address by using the Internet, post office, credit bureaus, or neighbors—a process called “skip tracing”
- Inform debtors that they have an overdue bill and try to negotiate a payment
- Explain the terms of sale or contract with the debtor, when necessary
- Learn the reasons for the overdue bills, which can help with the negotiations
- Offer credit advice or refer a consumer to a debt counselor, when appropriate
Bill and account collectors generally contact debtors by phone, although sometimes they do so by mail. They use computer systems to update contact information and record past collection attempts with a particular debtor. Keeping these records can help collectors with future negotiations.
The main job of bill and account collectors is finding a solution that is acceptable to the debtor and maximizes payment to the creditor. Listening to the debtor and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a solution.
After the collector and debtor agree on a repayment plan, the collector regularly checks to ensure that the debtor pays on time. If the debtor does not pay, the collector submits a statement to the creditor, who can take legal action. In extreme cases, this legal action may include taking back goods or disconnecting service.
Collectors must follow federal and state laws that govern debt collection. These laws require that collectors make sure they are talking with the debtor before announcing that the purpose of the call is to collect a debt. A collector also must give a statement, called “mini-Miranda,” which informs the account holder that they are speaking with a bill or debt collector.
Collectors usually have goals they are expected to meet. Typically, these include calls per hour and success rates.
Bill and account collectors held about 238,900 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of bill and account collectors were as follows:
|Business support services||32%|
|Credit intermediation and related activities||20|
|Healthcare and social assistance||9|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||7|
|Management of companies and enterprises||6|
Many collectors work in a call center for a third-party collection agency rather than the original creditor. In all industries, they spend most of their time on the phone tracking down or negotiating with debtors. They also use computers and databases to update information and record the results of their calls.
Collectors’ work can be stressful because some people become angry and confrontational when pressed about their debts. Collectors often face resistance while trying to do their job duties. Successful collectors must face regular rejection and still be ready to make the next call in a polite and positive voice. Fortunately, some consumers appreciate help in resolving their outstanding debts and can be quite grateful.
Most bill and account collectors work full time. Some collectors work flexible schedules, often calling people on weekends or during the evenings as they learn the best times to call.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of bill and account collectors.
For more information about bill and account collectors, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bill and Account Collectors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bill-and-account-collectors.htm (visited ).