Nobody likes calling a customer to remind them about a bill, but it's occasionally necessary in your line of work. Sometimes, people forget about their bills and misplace invoices. Other times, they could be facing severe financial difficulties that prevent them from paying up.
Having that conversation is tough, no matter. The only thing worse is when you can't contact your delinquent customer whatsoever. They've skipped town, changed names, or disconnected their number, making it all but impossible to get your money.
But does this mean you should walk away from your debt? No! Here are four ways to recover a debt after your customer disappears.
1. Check Social Media
If you know their full name, company name, or email address, you might have what you need to find them on social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
While these accounts won't likely share their new location, it does help you keep tabs on your customer. You can DM them personally or contact their friends and family to remind them of their overdue bills. You may even look at their favorite hashtags or location pins to narrow down a geographical location.
2. Contact Their Employer
If your customer shared their employment information in an application, or if you have their LinkedIn profile at hand, you'll know where they work now. You can get in touch with their employer to pass on a message. Just be careful about what information you share with their boss. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates how many details you can reveal during your call.
3. Dig Through Records
Newspaper, county, and criminal records hold a plethora of information that could be useful in hunting down your MIA customer. They're usually easily accessible on websites or at libraries. This tactic may only work if they own land or have traffic tickets, criminal charges, or civil lawsuits attached to their name.
4. Hire a Consumer Debt Collection Agency
As a business owner, you have a company to run. You don't have all the time in the world to devote to tracking down your delinquent customers. You may not even be able to justify your accounts receivables team taking over; they have a long list of items on the agenda without adding this search for missing payments.
A consumer debt collection agency can take this work off your hands. Sophisticated agencies like Summit A*R have a skip tracing department headed by licensed private investigators. These professionals are skilled in the art of tracking down even the most elusive customers, and they have trade tools that surpass those resources listed above.
They can tap into comprehensive locate databases to find your missing customer at a faster and more successful rate than most in-house consumer debt collection departments.
A disconnected phone number. Invoices marked with "return to sender." A pile of unpaid bills. The signs are clear that your customer skipped town. They may have accidentally overlooked their account after a big move, or it could be an intentional attempt to run out on the bill.
Whatever it is, you don't have to accept defeat. There are ways to recover bad debt, no matter what your business or industry may be.