SFS offers a wide range of services than can be tailored to meet the needs of individual clients. Our services encompass six broad categories: consumer debt, commercial debt, judgments, “bad debt” (see below), personal debt and debt purchasing. But SFS is extremely confident in its ability to meet any and all debt recovery requests. Our combination of experience, expertise, and cutting-edge tools and tactics is second-to-none and has helped to push our recovery rates well above the industry average. We are especially proud of our longstanding success and experience with all forms of debt, our ability to engage debtors with a unique blend courtesy and persistence , our level of customer service, and our absolute compliance–at all times–with all applicable laws and ethical norms. These strengths, together with technological improvements and vastly-improved database access, have allowed us to digitize key aspects of the business and free up manpower for the truly challenging cases that tend to thwart most other collection agencies. And time-tested tactics like phone calls and letters remain integral to how we approach our work. We also understand when (and when not) to involve the courts, when to put our expert tracing team to work, and when to seek legal advice from our nationwide network of collections attorneys. In those very rare instances when court action becomes necessary, SFS absorbs all associated costs and fees. The client only pays when the debtor pays (a modest percentage of the total amount collected).
SFS, in short, always takes a highly-nuanced approach to collections. First and foremost, we want our clients to feel good about what we do. Being forceful and direct with debtors doesn’t absolve us of the need to be patient, reasonable, and flexible. SFS enjoys high rates of debt recovery exactly because we seek beneficial solutions for all stakeholders. Debtors may be unhappy about having to pay what they owe, but SFS maintains a consistent approach at all times–one that is as thoughtful and fair as it is firm and direct. Without exception, we take our cue from our clients, and it’s their values, beliefs, and priorities that inform our approach to cases. A good example is that SFS never even considers court action without client approval. In short, we do homework and customize our approach accordingly. We avoid anything that has even the slightest potential to reflect poorly on a client.
It is important to note that SFS is, at all times, is fully-compliant with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations governing collection activities. Integrated oversight and training programs help ensure that all of our employees are familiar with their legal and ethical responsibilities and that their principal mandate is to serve their clients’ interests within the framework of the law.
SFS specializes in the following:
This represents the bulk of our business and encompasses all debts incurred by individual consumers (e.g. medical debt, utility-related debt, credit card debt, auto loan delinquencies and student loan debt). Our goal is always to recover monies owed in as little time as possible. To this end, SFS’ staff is trained in each and every aspect of the recovery process. Ultimately, in the event that one or more accounts remains unresolved, SFS considers the value of possible legal action and makes a recommendation to the client about whether to pursue this option.
The majority of this is business-to-business (B2B) debt associated with high balance accounts. In many cases, legal action is required to force collection. SFS is well-versed in dealing with companies that owe money and understands only too well that regular, reliable B2B payments are essential to long-term success in the commercial sector. We also know that acting swiftly is paramount (see “Some Collection Basics” below). Let SFS serve as a virtual extension of your office and Accounts Receivable department. And remember: you can check on the status of your account at any time. We go out of our way to keep our clients in the loop.
It is an unfortunate fact that a full 85% of all civil judgments resulting from lawsuits go uncollected. SFS not only excels in collecting such judgments, it is willing to buy the hardest, most intractable cases for cash! SFS is especially effective at collecting judgments associated with landlord-tenant disputes and evictions.
Bad debt is an umbrella term for debts within the consumer, commercial, or personal sector that have proven uniquely stubborn and “resistant to resolution” prior to being placed with SFS. Clients have either failed to collect these debts themselves after many months and years of trying or (more often) they’ve been let down by collection agents who favor faulty tools and tactics. SFS has an excellent track record in this area.
Sometimes, debtor and a creditor have no connection at all to a larger institution or business and have entered into a financial relationship entirely as individuals. Unfortunately, unpaid debts that often result from agreements of this type can result in conflict and dysfunction, not least because the parties involved tend to know each other well. Many, in fact, are immediate family members. SFS excels in all aspects of this sector but has especially broad experience in collecting judgments issued by a court of law.
No one likes to admit the fact, but some debts are so “dead-end” that chances of recovery, while not exactly zero, are slim at best. In such cases, SFS is willing to pay cash–up-front–for these sorts of debts. This is based on the idea that we, as a company, can work these extremely difficult cases over a much longer time frame than most clients are willing to tolerate. Not infrequently, it is many years before we are able to collect even a small part of the total amount owed. When we purchase debt from clients, they are able to realize financial benefit immediately.
Time is of the essence. It is never a good idea to wait more than 90 days to begin the debt recovery process. The longer a creditor waits, the more difficult the recovery process becomes–first for the creditor and then, eventually, for the collection agency.
SFS is firm with debtors and tireless in its efforts to recover debts outstanding. But we’re also fair. After an account is placed with SFS, a 30-day letter is sent out to all parties to the process making clear that SFS is involved in the matter and that expedited, voluntary payment of the debt is in the best interest of all parties. Again, letters and phone calls form the bulk of our efforts at this stage of the recovery process.
If these preliminary efforts produce only limited results we consult with our client and, if the amount owed is substantial (i.e. in excess of several thousand dollars), we recommend pursuing the debtor in court and obtaining a judgment against him–or her.
In short, SFS always gives debtors a chance to do the right thing. In those rare instances where all else has failed, SFS will transfer that account to a collections attorney–someone willing and able to sue the debtor in court. It is important to note that most debtors, like most people generally, fear legal action. Just the threat of legal action is often enough to force compliance. When a case does go to court and a judgment is issued, SFS has the ability to identify and access assets that the debtor may be minimizing or actively concealing. SFS actually begins the investigative process prior to any litigation to ensure that the out-of-pocket costs we incur while pursuing the debtor in court are justified by a strong prospect of debt recovery. SFS is especially interested in the following:
SFS typically works with a judgment enforcement agency to force collection. Many times, debtors are not even aware that certain assets are being “tapped” to repay what they owe. SFS has extensive experience in this area. We know the playbook. Please see “Judgments,” above, for additional details.
SFS encourages clients to check the status of their cases online. We make a point of keeping clients in the loop at all times. We issue monthly reports, but once again, the status of any case is always available online–24/7, 365 days per year. Each client is assigned an SFS agent who advocates on his or her behalf. And all clients–without exception–are treated equally, regardless of the size of the account or account they have placed with us.
SFS, like all other top-tier collection agencies, is in good standing with the American Collectors Association (ACA), our representative trade group, and all state-level collection associations.