Last month, insideARM published an article on how debt collectors – who, like many others, are currently facing uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic – can meet the country’s need for contact tracers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself states that contract tracing is an essential disease control measure and a key strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Collection agents are experienced in contact center work where they handle people’s sensitive financial information and understand the increased need for consumer data privacy. However, the COVID-19 contact tracing saga has turned into a big mess in Texas (and it’s not tied to a debt collection agency).
Texas has awarded a massive $295 million contact tracing contract to a company called MTX Group. The contract called for MTX to hire contact tracers and build a new contact center to handle calls. Trouble started almost immediately, with concerns about how quickly the contract was awarded and questions about the company’s experience handling such work. More recently, the Houston Chronicle reported several other concerning allegations:
- That the CEO of the company falsely claimed to have a doctorate;
- That the company mistakenly uploaded training materials to its staff that were not meant to be released, raising concerns about the company’s ability to handle sensitive information; and
- That employees use their home computers and email addresses despite processing people’s sensitive health data.
Oddly enough, many of the issues discussed above could be alleviated by using debt collection agencies to do this sensitive and critical work.
- Collection agencies have call centers already built and staffed, reducing the need to build new contact centers or train a whole new workforce.
- Collection agencies are used to handling sensitive consumer information and preventing the disclosure of this information to third parties.
- Collection agencies are already working on secure systems that consider compliance, privacy, and data protection, largely due to the highly regulated and highly audited nature of the industry.
- While moving their agents to a work-from-home environment, collection agencies provided company-owned hardware so agents could work from these secure systems.
- Many collection agencies perform background checks when hiring their employees, and some state regulatory agencies, such as Nevada, require a review of company officer information in order to obtain a license. for the company.
- Collection agencies have experience training a call center workforce, particularly to adapt as customer requirements, regulations and laws change, which they often do.
- Collectors do more than just collect debt, they are skilled in customer service and listening.
If there was ever an app uniquely suited to an industry, this is it. Contact tracing and debt collection require exactly the same skills. And many industry players are available to deploy now. It just requires a bit of pivoting. Contact your local health department – they are coordinating the effort.