Because Henry was laid off from his job, the Roses had accumulated lots of debts while trying to survive. But, finally, Henry was working again. Since they were getting back on their feet, Shelby was going to try and make payment arrangements with all their creditors. She didn't have much money to send them but she was going to try and work out something reasonable with them. Shelby decided to call one of their creditors to see what kind of a payment arrangement she could get. She decided to call about a retail charge card that was left unpaid with a balance of about $1,200. Shelby grabbed an old statement, picked up the phone, and dialed. "Ma'am, your account has been delinquent so long that it's been charged off." said the customer service representative. "What do you mean, 'charged off'?" asked Shelby. "That means that after a certain period of time another company handles your account. Your account is with a separate collection agency. The name of the agency handling your account is called GHI Collections. Here's their phone number. You need to call them to make the necessary arrangements." Sam Marshall Sam Marshall is a bill collector. While standing in the break room sipping coffee and looking out the window, his thoughts were interrupted by one of his co-workers. "Sam come quick, I got one of your debtors on the line. Sounds like a hot one." In the collection business, the word "debtor" refers to the person who owes the money. "On my way." Sam quickly ran to his desk. Tom, his co-worker, gave him the name of the debtor. From the name, Sam accessed the computer file and looked at the account. He noticed certain things about the account and knew right away what he had to do. He pushed line 1 and said, "Sam Marshall speaking, may I help you?" "My name is Shelby Rose, I believe I have an account with you. I'd like my balance please." Sam Marshall noticed on the screen that there was no correct mailing address for this account. There was only a previous address where mail had been returned. There were no phone numbers he could call. So Sam had virtually no information about this account. He only had a name, social security number, and balance due. Nothing more. Sam knew that if he didn't get her correct phone number and address on this incoming call, he'd probably never get a chance to speak with her again. Which means he would never collect any money from her. Sam Marshall spoke. "Your balance is $1,203.05. Are your intentions to pay this off?" "Yes. Our situation has improved. We're preparing to make arrangements with all our creditors. I'm calling to see what kind of a payment arrangement you'll accept." Sam noticed right away the words "our" and "we" and immediately suspected that Shelby might be married. That piece of information is always important to know. "So, your husband is working full time now?" asked Sam. "Yes." said Shelby In a couple of short seconds Sam knew she was married and that her husband was employed. This meant the debtor had money and could possibly pay off the full balance. Sam quickly decided not to accept whatever payment she was offering and to press hard for the full balance using a "garnishment talk off". This meant that at the appropriate time, Sam would say things to make her believe her husband's wages were on the verge of being garnished, unless payment in full was made right away. But before doing this, he needed more information. "So what kind of payment arrangement were you thinking of making, Shelby?" "I can pay you $20 per month to start off with, but will raise the payments as things improve over time." "Sam responded quickly. "I'll have to work it out with our client, but I see no reason we can't work with you on this. What's your correct mailing address so we can send you a statement?" Shelby felt relieved. This man seemed nice. "1112 31st Ave N. Apt 102, White bear Lake, MN 55110" Bingo! Sam got the address out of her. So far, so good. Sam had no intentions of sending her a statement. If the conversation went as planned, he'd be sending her a computer-generated "attorney letter". This is a specially designed letter with a law firm's name and address on the letterhead and envelope. It's a letter that implies that legal action is about to be taken against you. After reading it, it sounds like you're about to be sued, though in actuality you're not. Now that he had Shelby Rose's correct address, he could send out that letter to her. This was a great letter to scare a debtor. Also, with her correct address, the collection agency could now sue her if they had to. They couldn't before. To take somebody to court you must serve them a summons and complaint. The attempt at service must be made in person. Without the correct home or work address you can't sue anybody. Now, thanks to Shelby, it's possible to sue her. All because she gave him her correct address. Sam also took note of the fact that the address Shelby gave him was an apartment. This family doesn't own their own home. So when it's time to make the big push for the full balance, any comments about how there would be a lien assessed on the property would be futile. These people don't own, they rent. Sam continued. "Shelby, to get this payment arrangement you want, I'll need to ask you a few simple questions about your finances. Is that OK?" Shelby hesitated. "Uh...OK." "Shelby, first of all, what is your phone number?" Sam asked her that in a calm, matter of fact way. In actuality, Sam was very much on edge. He didn't have her phone number and nobody had been able to find it. This call would probably be Sam's only chance to get it. Without the home phone number, there is no calling her. If you can't call the debtor, you can't collect the money. "835-5211" Yes! He took a deep breath. He was relieved. There was nothing stopping him now. "What was your husband's first name again?" "Henry." "Oh yes, Henry." Sam structured his language carefully to make it sound like he knew more than he really did. Now for one other critical piece of information to make this all work. "Shelby, what's another phone number we can reach you at?" "There is no other number. I'm not working." Sam noted on a piece of paper that she was unemployed, although she might be lying. But it didn't sound like it. "Shelby, it's just for our files. We just need a second phone number where we could reach you or your husband. How about your husbands work number?" "I don't want you calling him at work." Sam knew this would take some skill. "I definitely won't be calling him at work," said Sam with a comforting voice. "You can be reached at home, right? I don't need to call you anywhere else. I just need the number for our files. With that number I can negotiate with our client to get the payment arrangement you want. It's a requirement by our client if they are to work out any payment arrangement." "I just don't feel comfortable giving out his work number." "Shelby, I would only call the number if for some reason I couldn't contact you at home. It's not a number I'm going to be calling. It's just a number for our files. Nothing more." There was silence on the line. Then Shelby made her mistake. "Oh alright, 452-7475." Sam cheered silently. She was starting to trust him. Everything was going perfectly. She was giving him the rope to hang herself. Sam continued questioning Shelby. He asked her how much income they made, how much their rent was, how much total debt they were in, what kind of car they were driving, plus a lot more. Paul took a financial inventory of her situation as good as any loan officer or financial planner. And Shelby blindly answered his questions. As Sam listened to Shelby's answers, he made adjustments to his plan. "Shelby, I am going to contact our client and work out an arrangement. Will you still be home in a few minutes from now?" "Yes, I will." "I will call you back with an answer." "OK" "Bye." Sam Marshall moved quickly. He dialed the husband's work number that Shelby had given him. A receptionist answered. "JKL Corporation." "I'd like to speak with Henry Rose please." asked Sam. "Hold on, I'll connect you". Sam interrupted her. "Ma'am, something just came up and I'll have to call back. Would you please tell me what department I should ask for to reach him directly?" "He's in the production department." "He's a line worker, right?" "Oh no, he's one of our production supervisors." "Day shift, right?" "Yes, he is." Sam smiled. "Would you please give me your address there." She gave it. "How do you spell the name of your company again?" She spelled it. "Thank you." Sam Marshall hung up. Took a deep breath. Then picked up the phone and dialed Shelby's number. "Hello?" "Shelby, this is Sam Marshall." "Did you find out if they would accept the payment arrangement?" "Shelby, I just got off the phone with our attorney. I have been notified that suit authorization has just been approved by our client. Have you been served any legal paperwork yet? "What are you talking about?" asked Shelby, sounding alarmed. "Because of the time period without a payment, our client feels that the only way they're going to get paid is by taking action against you and involving your husband's employment." "I just called you offering to pay on this! What do you mean involving my husband's employment?" "I believe that in your state, wage garnishments are at 25%. This means that 25% of your husband's paycheck will go directly to us, until this debt is paid in full. Of course, this includes attorney costs, legal fees, and back interest added to the debt. I know your intentions are good Shelby, but it's too late to get them to accept any payment arrangement. They are initiating proceedings as we speak. Please correct me if any of the following information is wrong; your husband is a Production Supervisor at JKL Corporation located at 1400 W Market, Mpls, MN 55344. They will be notifying your husband's employer within 48 hours." "This account is in my name only! You can't do anything to him!" "Shelby, if your husband benefitted from the credit card in any way, he is liable as well. Check with your attorney." Sam wasn't sure if this was actually true, but it didn't matter. "The hell if your going to do anything!" screamed Shelby. "Shelby, I am in a position to put a 48 hour hold on the file to give you time to come up with the $1,205.03." "We don't have the money! Don't you understand! We can only pay you $20 per month! "In that case, Shelby, I just need to ask one more question; should we serve the legal paperwork to you at home, or to your husband at JKL Corporation?" Shelby was in tears, "We've been through so much and now you're going to do this to us! What kind of a..." Sam interrupted. "It doesn't sound like this will be worked out voluntarily. But just in case, I'll put a 48 hour hold on the file. Goodbye Shelby." Sam hung up the phone. And while the account was still on the screen, Sam immediately pushed the correct button that sends the computer-generated attorney letter. It would go out in the next mornings mail. Timing was everything. Sam felt good about the call. He could tell by the tone in her voice that she was truly scared. Sam felt that either she or Henry would be calling him back with an offer, probably tomorrow. There was just one more thing for him to do. Sam got back on the phone to JKL Corporation. He could tell by the voice it was a different receptionist this time. "I was hoping you could help me, ma'am. I'm trying to reach an individual in your production department but I forgot that person's name? I must admit I feel a little stupid." "Do you know what that person does?" inquired the receptionist. "Maybe this could help. Do you recognize the name Henry Rose? I believe he's a daytime Production Supervisor." said Sam. "Yes, he is." replied the receptionist. "I'm trying to reach his boss." "Oh! OK. Hold on a moment. I'll see if I can look it up." Sam waited on hold. "His name is Jim Hollingsworth. He'll be in at 8:30 AM, tomorrow morning." "Thank you." said Sam. Sam made a note to call the company tomorrow and he went on to his next account. So the next morning, at 8:30 AM, Sam called JKL Corporation again, and asked for Jim Hollingsworth. "Jim speaking." As Sam began to talk, he was careful to speak in an authoritative, professional manner. "Mr. Hollingsworth?" "Yes." "Mr. Hollingsworth, my name is Jeffrey Bishop. I'm an attorney. I was told you could help me verify some information. I'm just trying to verify employment on a Henry Rose." "What's this?" "I am an attorney verifying some information. I just need to verify that Henry Rose is a full-time Production Supervisor for JKL Corporation and that his wages aren't being garnished at the present time." "What? You're an attorney? What about his wages being garnished?" "Yes, Mr. Hollingsworth, I am an attorney. All I need from you is to verify that he's a full-time Production Supervisor and that his wages aren't being garnished at the present time." "Hey listen. You need to call personnel for that kind of information. Call extension 7005." "Thank you, Mr. Hollingsworth. Good day." Then Sam hung up. Sam Marshall was breaking the law by misrepresenting himself as an attorney, but knew he wouldn't be caught. He'd done it a hundred times before. Overall, he felt the conversation went well. Sam sat back and imagined the scenario in his mind. Last night, Henry probably got a big scare from his wife when he came home and she told him about a conversation she had with a creditor. Today, his boss should mention something to him about an attorney who called about some wage garnishment. Tomorrow, he'd receive a letter from an attorney threatening litigation. Sam didn't know if this bluff would result in any money or not, but he knew one thing; Henry and Shelby Rose were going to be two scared debtors. Sam decided to give it three days. If one of the Roses didn't call him by then, he would start in on Henry directly at his work. But as it turned out, Sam wouldn't have to wait that long. It arrived the next morning. "Sam, we got a Federal Express package for you. Here you go." "What's the name?" "It's from a Shelby Rose, recognize it?" He reached inside the package. Inside was a money order for $1205.03, the balance in full. Sam's phone rang. It was from his collection manager. "Hey Sam, good job on that Rose account. Good job as usual." "Thanks, boss."