A debt collector is a professional who is responsible for talking with people about paying money that they owe. Also known as bill, credit, or account collectors, they either work in the collections department of the company that is owed the money, or in a collection agency employed by the company to recover the overdue funds. Companies who are owed money are referred to as creditors, while people who owe these companies are referred to as debtors.
If the creditor is not able to procure payment from the debtor through normal billing procedures, the customer's account is sent to the debt collector. In some cases, instead of owning an in-house department that can take care of such debts, the creditor transfers the account to an independent, stand-alone company called a collection agency where debt collectors are employed. The collector, in either case, contacts the debtor via telephone or mail to find out the reasons for non-payment. A debtor can choose to dispute the bill, or expresses dissatisfaction in the goods or services rendered for it, in which case the collector can refer the debtor to the creditor's customer service department for resolution. If the bill is determined as fair or valid, however, it is the job of the collector to follow up with the debtor in the effort to ensure payment.
In cases where the debtor is willing to pay yet experiences financial difficulties and cannot pay the amount owed in full, the debt collector can arrange a payment plan. If the debtor continues to dispute the money owed and refuses to pay up, however, the collector can escalate the issue to an attorney to pursue legal action. In instances where the unpaid bill is for merchandise such as a vehicle, the debt collector can supervise repossession of such property. The collector also has to search for the debtor in the instance that he or she is no longer at the address listed, thus tracing them by checking for forwarding addresses at the post office. Tracing work might also involve calling a former workplace and residential phone numbers to interview former co-workers and neighbors concerning the debtor's whereabouts.