The Quick Solution for Your Financial Matter

Do you think that maintaining the health is very important? Why do you think that paying attention to our health is completely important? Well, if we can pay attention to the health, we will have the good condition of the body. We do not need to be worried anymore about our body conditions since we have tried our best in having the best way to maintain our health. Here we really know the importance of keeping and maintaining the health of our body.

Besides of having the good health of the body, there are still some other benefits that we can get by paying attention to the health. If we are such a busy person since we like to do many kinds of activities in our life, if we really consider our health, we will not need to be worried with the health. Your good condition will enable you to have the good way for maintaining your own health. In the contrary, when you are sick, you cannot do any kinds of activities well since you are sick. Your daily activities will be disturbed with the sickness that you are suffering from and it is so painful.

When you are sick, you need to have some time for the rest time. Of course, in the bed rest time, you need to have some off time for doing all your works. It is so boring if you have such a busy day to do. You need to be hospitalized for instance, you need to have the bed rest time and also you need to think about the money for paying the medical treatment of your own condition. When you do not have a lot of money for the medical treatment, what will you do? Of course, we will feel so confused on how to manage the money, right?

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Expert Witnesses Professional for Banking Case

Witnesses in each case it is necessary, it will help every case in question to help look for bright spots. Has experienced more than 34 years, Michael F. Richard can help you to resolve the case of central banks to ensnare you. He has experience in dealing with the most difficult cases, he ensures the best for you. Until the mid-2015, he has also handled several cases amounted to 79 cases. He has helped many plaintiffs and defendants, so that she does not have the experience you doubt. He became an expert witness and report writing.

Expert witness testimony is something that is very helpful for every case, whether it be criminal, civil, or also to a banking case. Michael F. Richard also has a very broad experience in lending, banking operations, lenders, procedures, supervision of lending, and still many others he has handled to date. The experience that made him known and is also believed to hold some mild cases to heaviest. If you want to use their services, you can directly come to him in the office he or can simply visit the website to consult online with him. Richard is also used to deal with commercial real estate transactions are large and commercial loans are also great.

For those of you who want to use his services as an expert witness in the case who was ensnares you, you can count on him for the most appropriate solution. You do not need to worry about payment issues, he also has open lines of payment are cheaper compared to others who put up a very high rate for a similar case. Immediately call him to consult with him about the case you mentioned. Hopefully this information is useful for all of you who were confused by the banking case that struck you.

Worst Cities for Credit Card Debt

Everything is bigger in Texas — including the average time it takes to pay off a credit card debt. That is among the findings from a recent study by They compiled information from the 25 largest metropolitan areas and found that three Texas cities ranked among the top five for the longest time to pay off a credit card debt.

To identify the metro areas where credit card debts were increasing (and therefore where people were paying more in interest charges), gathered data from Experian on average credit card balances and from the Census Bureau for median earnings in all the metro areas to be studied. The payoff time was calculated assuming that 15% of the median income was devoted to pay off credit card debt, as 15% is a benchmark often used by credit counselors to determine a reasonable ability to repay a debt.

In terms of the longest average payback time, San Antonio topped the list with a sixteen-month payback period, Dallas-Fort Worth came in tied for second with a fourteen-month payback period, and Houston was fifth with a thirteen-month payback period. The other cities in the top five were Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta, both with fourteen-month payback periods.

On the other end of the spectrum, the City (or Cities) by the Bay had the shortest average payback period of the metro areas in the study. The San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area had a nine-month payback period, with Boston and Washington D.C. tied for second with a ten-month payback period.

The differential between the highest and lowest payback periods can be significant with respect to interest payments. In this case, residents of the Bay Area had average card balances of $4,393, a bit below the average debt load, but the median earnings were higher at $44,491. The interest costs accrued during a nine-month payback period was $227. Contrast that with San Antonio residents, who had a higher balance of $4,880 but much lower median earnings at $27,491. The resulting sixteen-month payback period racked up $448 in interest costs — almost two times that of Bay Area residents.

Although it seems obvious, the study underscores how important income is in dealing with debt burdens. Aggregate debt burdens do not necessarily correlate to the jobless rate in an area, as the Texas economy is still relatively robust (even with plunging oil prices). Nor is the issue simply one of cost-of-living, since the Bay Area has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S. It is the ratio of average income to the average cost of living, probably overlaid with individual circumstances that increase the debt loads in certain areas.

For example, the San Antonio area has a large military presence. Military families have a tendency to take on greater levels of debt compared to the civilian population, with generally fewer assets and 7.1% greater unsecured debt than the U.S. average, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

You can see all of the listings for yourself here. If you live in one of these metro areas, see how your area stacks up nationally, and how your family compares to the average within the area.

While this is useful information, it does not change the fundamental facts of staying out of excessive credit card debt. Whenever possible, do not charge any more than you can pay off at the end of the month. Follow that philosophy, and you will have no struggles with credit regardless of where you live.

5 Keys to Eliminating Debt


By Kara I. Stevens

Eliminating credit card debt is a top priority for many African-American families. The good news is that there are a few straightforward solutions to this problem.

The other good news is that is each step is simple to do, and completing each step successfully will arm you with the financial confidence needed to execute successful money management techniques. Here are five solid tips to help you eliminate credit card debt.

1. Locate all of your bills. While this step may seem like a no-brainer, one of the reasons that our bills go unpaid is simply because we forget about them. To get a quick, small win, appoint a shoebox or folder to store your weekly snail mail bills. Keep your ad hoc filing system close to where you drop your mail when you get home. If you receive billing statements online, create a virtual folder to store your bills. Within that folder, create sub-folders for categories like insurance, phone, or rent. This system is temporary, and should be replaced with something more comprehensive like an Excel spreadsheet, Quick Books, or Quicken Books.

2. Schedule a time to pay your bills. Designate a specific date and time to pay your bills and honor that commitment weekly. Use your phone to schedule financial reminders. If you need to, consult a financially literate friend to send a “pep-text” to get you pumped about doing right by your wallet.

3. Get Your Stats. Once you know what debt you have and are committed to getting rid of it, you need to have a financial plan of attack. On a sheet of paper, a spreadsheet, or a downloadable expenses template, write down all of the debt that you have. This includes but is not limited to credit cards, student loans, auto loans, charge cards, and personal loans. Place your outstanding debt in order from “least” to “greatest” in terms of their balance. Tabulate your total. When I was getting out of debt, I was looking for ways to feel victorious by achieving small wins. Instead of paying off debt that had a higher balance and/or higher interest rates, I set my sights on the “low-hanging fruit,” which was debt with smaller balances. I really did not care about the interest rates; I just wanted to see progress. This approach results in a stronger feeling of accomplishment because you will be able to get rid of one source of debt almost immediately.

4. Create a Budget. “Budget” is a financial word that makes many of us cringe. But it can be your saving grace when you are focused on being financially free. To create a simple budget, use the “50:30:20 rule” of thumb. Fifty-percent of your budget goes for “needs” like food, housing, insurance, and transportation. Thirty-percent goes towards your “wants” like clothing, services, and entertainment and the last twenty-percent goes for savings. Except for when you’re in debt-elimination mode. Then, a portion of that thirty-percent for “wants” goes towards eliminating debt. (Remember: You want to be debt-free and you want peace of mind). While it is up to you to decide how much of that thirty-percent will go towards eliminating debt, make sure you are using enough to make visible dents in your debt, but not so much to make you feel deprived and discouraged about moving forward with your plan of attack.

5. Automate Payments: If you have difficulty paying your debt on time and consistently, it is wise to set up monthly recurring payments. This is especially true for bills that you hate to pay. For whatever reason, I hate paying my cell phone bill and made sure that I automated this payment to avoid interruptions in service. This practice takes some pressure off of you because payments are automatically withdrawn from either your checking or savings accounts. With automation, though, it is important for you to regularly check and review your accounts to make sure payment amounts and dates are accurate.

The key to becoming debt free is to focus on a series of small wins. Small wins create big change.

Good luck with your journey. With structure and commitment, I know that you can do it.

9 Invaluable Financial Lessons Eating Pot Noodles For 3 Months Taught Me

I posted the message above on my Twitter account around the time the recession first hit me back in 2009.

The day the hammer landed, I thought I was about to be commended on a job well done. Instead, my boss rambled on about the department not doing well and they had decided to let me go.

I was hardworking and innovative with great work ethic, and a team player. I was always on time and one of the last people to leave. Yet somehow I was about to be out of a job without warning.

But I haven’t done anything wrong I kept saying.

Well, the recession didn’t give a damn and my company certainly didn’t care. It was all about the bottom line and I was costing them money. It didn’t matter how awesome I was at my job; no one was indispensable.

I struggled for a long time and learned to adjust my life to the phrase, “Nothing in life is certain so always be ready.”

I came out of the experience relatively unscathed, 15 pounds underweight, with the following 9 lessons engraved into my brain cells forever: –

  1. Always Have Money Stashed Away: I had little by way of savings when I lost my job. With no income coming in, the little I had disappeared fast. The amount of stress and anxiety I had to deal with between jobs affected all my relationships. Once I got back on my feet, this was the first thing I addressed. Giving up things in the short term is worth it to prepare for the long term.
  2. Always Have Mad Money Stashed Far Away: This is a cut above regular savings. This is money that will enable you to walk away from any crappy situation if it’s starting to affect the quality of your life, even without another situation lined up. Mad money is why I was able to leave a soul sucking job and start my own business. Having mad money is a lot of sacrifice and financial planning but it is possible if you are willing to give up instant gratification for the time being.
  3. Pay Off all Your Debt and Stop Being the Bank’s Bitch: A person without debt is free to make the best decisions for their life. As long as you owe the bank or credit card company money, you’re their bitch. The sooner you get rid of all your debt, the faster you can arrive at mad money level and have choices about what you want to do with your life.
  4. Never Carry Over a Credit Card Balance. Ever: The interest rates on credit cards are more than enough motivation to get rid of this. If by some misfortune, you’re unable to make the minimum payments, the speed at which the balance will go up is beyond alarming. You can live without a credit card. Live within your means. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Now do it!
  5. Always have a Plan B, C & D: Even though everything is fine, I still have a plan for several eventualities. For instance, what if I lose clients and it takes up to a year to sign up new clients? What if running my own business doesn’t work out? What if I get sick and can’t work? You see where I’m going with this. I have a plan in place for everything. Even if they never happen, I still like to know the contingency plans are there.
  6. The Difference Between a Want & a Need: A want is something that you can live without like more clothes, shoes, cable TV, a car, jewellery, etc. A need is something you can’t live without like water, food and air. I was never much of a spend thrift before the recession but I had my impulse buy days when I picked up stuff without thinking about it. Nothing cures you of that faster than not knowing where your next meal will come from.
  7. Track All My Spending: I developed a budget sheet and started noting down every penny that came into and left my life. It’s easier to identify where you’re wasting money and control it with a tracking sheet. A budget sheet can’t lie. If you’re a spendthrift, it’ll become obvious eventually.
  8. I’m Not Related to the Joneses: The Joneses have everything – money, perfect apartment, awesome car and they’re your friends. It’s natural to want to keep up with them, eh? The truth is no one knows what’s going on in the Joneses life. They could be up to their eyeballs in debt trying to keep up appearances. I’ve learnt to keep up with my own life and purse. Just because a bunch of friends did something doesn’t mean I have to do it to fit in.
  9. Never Forget the Pot Noodles: This is a personal point for me. When I was broke, I ate a lot of pot noodles. It was the cheapest thing I could get that didn’t require additional components. Just hot water and I was good to go in 5 minutes. How much pot noodles did I eat? It was enough that I never want to see another bowl or pot of noodles as long as I live. Every time I’m about to do something stupid with money, I ask myself, “How many pot noodles did you eat during the recession again?”

It’s been 6 years since I wrote that message and I now run my own business. However, the lessons have never left me and I continue to plan my finances within those parameters.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a savings nutjob who never has any fun with her money. However, I do important things with it like indulging in my passion for travel, funding the cancer charity I opened in my mother’s memory and expanding my horizons by taking a course – with a plan in place and within budget!

4 Things to Consider Before Consolidating Your Debt

Debt consolidation has been a hot topic in the past few years. Since the financial meltdown in 2008, banks have tightened up on their risk models and it was near impossible to get a personal loan from a bank. The only realistic way to get a loan was through a HELOC and many Americans were underwater on their homes during this time.

Today, a lot of online lenders have emerged and are changing the way consumers borrow money. Most lenders have a 100% online application that doesn’t require branch visits. You can get funds into your account the very next business day and sign contracts entirely online.

With all these perks, it’s important to have a full understanding of how debt consolidation works, but more importantly, the common traps to avoid when trying to consolidate your debts.

Acknowledge the Root of the Problem

Debt consolidation is undoubtedly a great way to pay off those high interest rate credit cards and will save you thousands of dollars in interest in the long run. The main benefits of consolidating your debts are single monthly payments and fixed interest rates. Keep in mind that once you pay off your credit cards through a personal loan, you’ll have a zero balances on all your accounts. This only means one thing. Access to the credit limits that your credit cards have.

You’ll have to be disciplined to make sure you’re not accumulating more debt after you paid it off. Spend some time and take a close look to figure out how you got into debt the first place. Was it poor money management skills? Were you spending too much on food, groceries, or travel? Whatever it is, it’s important to acknowledge the root of the problem before you apply for a loan.

You’re Consolidating the Wrong Debts

When you’re applying for a debt consolidation loan, your instinct might tell you to take the highest amount you’re approved for. This can actually hurt you in the long run. Take a close hard look to see what your interest rates are with each account.

It might make sense to consolidate all your accounts (even your low interest rate credit cards), but you’ll end up paying more interest by doing this. The convenience of having one monthly payment might sound like a brilliant plan today, but make sure you’re only consolidating high interest rate accounts. Only take out the amount needed to pay off high interest rate credit cards. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by having a lower monthly payment and you’ll end up paying less interest in the long run.

Make Sure Lenders are Pulling a Soft Inquiry

One of the last things you want to do is apply for loans with every lender out there. Some lenders will pull a soft inquiry while some will pull a hard inquiry. The main difference is that a soft inquiry doesn’t affect your credit score and will only be seen by you. A hard inquiry will be seen by all the lenders and will have an impact on your credit score.

One way to go about this is to use loan comparison engines like ReadyForZero or LendingTree. For example, when using ReadyForZero’s debt consolidation tool or LendingTree’s personal loan search engine, you’ll be able to see live offers from each lenders. The great thing about this is that you can compare interest rates and payments and figure out which option works best for you.

Carefully Review the Contract

The last and perhaps one of the most important steps in getting a debt consolidation loan is to review the terms of the loan. Some lenders may charge origination fees that are taken out of your requested loan amount and others might charge a pre-payment penalty. A great source to read actual reviews of each lender is Credit Karma.

Take a close look at your interest rate, total repayment, and the length of your loan. Next, carefully calculate if the amount comfortably fits within your monthly budget. Some other things to look out for on the loan contract is to see what their policy is for late fees. Are they pretty lenient? Will they forgive late fees in certain cases?

Lastly, you should always check to see what their policy is in changing your due date. We all know life can throw us a curve ball which might impact our ability to pay on certain dates, so having this extra flexibility can go a long way.

When all is said is done, a debt consolidation loan can be a great way to have a fixed monthly payment to get out of debt within a certain time frame. Always make sure you’re using common sense before applying for a loan and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

My Credit Card Gave Me False Security


This is a teen-written article from our friends at Represent Magazine, a platform for and by young people in foster care. Represent is published by Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization that helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing. Some names have been changed in this young author’s story.

I got a credit card when I was 19 because I thought it would make me feel better about myself. All the adults I knew had credit cards. Most of my coworkers at Berkeley College used theirs as their main form of payment; one got approved for a card with a $10,000 limit. And that made these people seem as if they were freer, with more possibilities. Before getting a credit card, what I could buy was limited to the amount of cash in my pocket.

I was turned down for a credit card by a couple of banks because I had no credit at all—I had never taken out a loan or bought anything on layaway. Banks want evidence that you can pay back money on time. But I was finally approved for a card from Citibank with a credit limit of $1,800 and no interest for the first nine months. This meant that even if I didn’t pay the full amount at the end of each month, I wouldn’t pay interest—for nine months.

The card also had a point system with rewards like gift cards, laptops, and cash. The more I spent with my card, the more points I’d accumulate for a reward. Shopping at certain pricier stores would get me double points. Reading the fine print is important. Some credit cards charge annual fees just for the privilege of getting points.

I went a little crazy. I bought things that I otherwise would have saved up for. I charged a couple of trips to the Caribbean—and the souvenirs too. I purchased clothes and went to expensive restaurants and used the excuse that I’d be able to make partial payments. Having clothes and gadgets that were out of my reach before made me feel richer and more powerful. Whatever I wanted I could have.

A Second Card

About a year after I got my Citibank credit card, I was shopping at JCPenney one day. I didn’t shop there often, but whenever I did, the cashier would always mention that I’d get 20% off my entire purchase if I signed up for a card. I was buying a lot that day and applied only because I wanted that discount. In about four months I used it enough to earn a platinum card, which meant that I’d spent over $1,000. It also meant I earned more coupons—which enticed me to shop there even more.

When I got the JCPenney card, I had just started accruing interest on my Citibank card, and the JCPenney card charged interest right away. The excitement of owning a credit card faded after the interest charges kicked in. They faded even more when I needed to juggle two payments. I had understood before that this was borrowed money, but without the interest there was no penalty for using my credit card.

But now there were penalties. On top of the interest itself are extra fees, and if you skip a payment, the interest rate goes up, so you owe even more. I remembered the idea had been to build credit, not build debt. At this point I owed about $1,000 on my Citibank card, and could pay back about $300 monthly. Even though I paid it back, I was still using my card and being charged $25-$35 in interest each month. I also had to make payments on my JCPenney card, although I didn’t use it as often.

I realized I wanted to be smarter about spending and not go into debt because of material things. Now, my immediate goal is to finish paying down both credit card balances. I’m almost there. Once I clear that debt away, I’d like to save at least $100 each month.

Now I check how much money I actually have in my bank account before I shop. If I’m looking for something specific, I go to the mall with the idea that I’m spending $25 on a blazer, and a blazer only. If I can’t pay for an item with the cash I have on hand, I think twice about whether or not I really need it.

Shopping online also helped me to curb my spending. I have more control online. I can just look at specific things that are in my size and my price range, and not get carried away with something beautiful in a store. Also, the wait for shipping holds a bit of suspense and excitement.

Target Credit Card Hack Reveals Need For Updated Security


NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. is the juiciest target for hackers hunting credit card information. And experts say incidents like the recent data theft at Target’s stores will get worse before they get better.

That’s in part because U.S. credit and debit cards rely on an easy-to-copy magnetic strip on the back of the card, which stores account information using the same technology as cassette tapes.

“We are using 20th century cards against 21st century hackers,” says Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation. “The thieves have moved on but the cards have not.”

In most countries outside the U.S., people carry cards that use digital chips to hold account information. The chip generates a unique code every time it’s used. That makes the cards more difficult for criminals to replicate. So difficult that they generally don’t bother.

“The U.S. is the top victim location for card counterfeit attacks like this,” says Jason Oxman, chief executive of the Electronic Transactions Association.

The breach that exposed the credit card and debit card information of as many as 40 million Target customers who swiped their cards between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 is still under investigation. It’s unclear how the breach occurred and what data, exactly, criminals have. Although security experts say no security system is fail-safe, there are several measures stores, banks and credit card companies can take to protect against these attacks.

Companies haven’t enhanced security so far because it can be expensive. And while global credit and debit card fraud hit a record $11.27 billion last year, those costs accounted for just 5.2 cents of every $100 in transactions, according to the Nilson Report, which tracks global payments.

Another problem: retailers, banks and credit card companies each want someone else to foot most of the bill. Card companies want stores to pay to better protect their internal systems. Stores want cards companies to issue more sophisticated cards. Banks want to preserve the profits they get from older processing systems.

Card payment systems work much the way they have for decades. The magnetic strip on the back of a credit or debit card contains the cardholder’s name, account number, the card’s expiration date and one of two security codes. When the card is swiped at a store, an electronic conversation is begun between two banks. The store’s bank, which pays the store right away for the item the customer bought, needs to make sure the customer’s bank approves the transaction and will pay the store’s bank. On average, the conversation takes 1.4 seconds.

During that time the customer’s information flows through the network and is recorded, sometimes only briefly, on computers within the system controlled by payment processing companies. Retailers can store card numbers and expiration dates, but they are prohibited from storing more sensitive data such as the security codes printed on the backs of cards or other personal identification numbers.

Hackers have been known to snag account information as it passes through the network or pilfer it from databases where it’s stored. Target says there is no indication that the three or four-digit security codes on the back of customer credit cards were stolen. That would make it hard to use stolen account information to buy from most internet retail sites. But because the magnetic strips on cards in the U.S. are so easy to generate, thieves can simply reproduce them and issue fraudulent cards that look and feel like the real thing.

“That’s where the real value to the fraudsters is,” says Chris Bucolo, senior manager of security consulting at ControlScan, which helps merchants comply with card processing security standards.

Once thieves capture the card information, they check the type of account, balances and credit limits, and sell replicas on the Internet. A simple card with a low balance and limited customer information can go for $3. A no-limit “black” card with the security number printed on the back of the card can go for $1,000, according to Al Pascual, a senior analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research, a security risk and fraud consulting firm.

To be sure, thieves can nab and sell card data from networks processing cards with digital chips, too, but they wouldn’t be able to create fraudulent cards.

Credit card companies in the U.S. have a plan to replace magnetic strips with digital chips by the fall of 2015. But retailers worry the card companies won’t go far enough. They want cards to have a chip, but they also want each transaction to require a personal identification number, or PIN, instead of a signature.

“Everyone knows that the signature is a useless authentication device,” says Duncan.

Duncan, who represents retailers, says banks want to preserve the higher profits they can get when a signature is needed because there are fewer signature processing networks, and less price competition. The higher profits outweigh the cost of fraud, Duncan says.

“Compared to the tens of millions of transactions that are taking place every day, even the fraud that they have to pay for is small compared to the profit they are making from using less secure cards.”

Even so, there are a few things retailers can do, too, to better protect customer data. The most vulnerable point in the transaction network, security experts say, is usually the merchant.

“Financial institutions are more used to having high levels of protection,” says Pascual. “Retailers are still getting up to speed.”

The simple, square, card swiping machines that consumers are used to seeing at most checkout counters are hard to infiltrate because they are completely separate from the Internet. But as retailers switch to faster, Internet-based payment systems they may expose customer data to hackers.

Retailers need to build robust firewalls around those systems to guard against attack, security experts say. They could also take further steps to protect customer data by using encryption, technology which scrambles the data so it looks like gibberish to anyone who accesses it unlawfully. These technologies can be expensive to install and maintain, however.

Thankfully, individual customers are not on the hook for fraudulent charges that result from security breaches. But these kinds of attacks do raise costs —and, likely, fees for all customers.

“Part of the cost in the system is for fraud protection,” Oxman says. “It costs money, and someone’s going to pay for it eventually.”

Understanding the Meaning of a Certified Commercial Collection Agency in Today’s Credit World

Credit grantors have come to rely on collection agency certification as a valuable tool in determining whether or not they wish to use that agency to assist them in collecting their debts. Over the past year, however, there has been some confusion as to what certification is all about and whether or not one certification is better than another. At the recent NACM Credit Congress in St. Louis, three of the exhibitors were organizations which grant certification to their agency members. Those were the Commercial Law League of America, the International Association of Commercial Collectors, and the Commercial Collection Agencies of America. Several credit executives expressed some confusion about the three organizations and sought clarification from me as to which organization was which and what was the difference between their certifications. This article is not intended to recommend one certification over another, but rather is intended to provide factual information about the organizations which provide collection agency certification and about the respective certification processes. The author is a member of each of these organizations and is a past-president of the Commercial Law League of America.

The Commercial Law League of America and its certification program
The Commercial Law League of America (CLLA), founded in 1895, is the nation’s oldest creditor’s rights organization. Predominantly, its members consist of attorneys (generally litigation, collection or bankruptcy attorneys) and employees of collection agencies, both certified and non-certified as well as Law List Publishers. It is interesting to note that when the CLLA was established in 1895 credit men (Editor’s note: yes, until much later, perhaps the 1950s, the credit profession was comprised almost exclusively of men) were members. That category of membership was dropped from the CLLA in 1912 and in May, 2015, the Constitution of the CLLA was amended to again include the category of credit grantors as eligible members. The CLLA states as its core purpose “[t]o be the leader in providing legal, educational and professional services to the business and credit communities”1 all in service to the credit industry.

Commercial collection agencies have been an instrumental part of the CLLA since its inception. In 1923 the Association of Commercial Agencies “adopted a lofty Code of Ethics dedicating the members to a high standard of conduct toward creditors and attorneys. This association was abandoned in 1934 so that the members would look to the Commercial Law League of America as the rule maker covering the entire field of relations in the commercial collection specialty.”2

In 1937 the CLLA adopted the Statement of Principles Applicable to Collection Agencies which had been set forth and adopted by the American Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association and the New York State Association of Collection Agencies. In 1971 thirteen agencies expressed their interest in forming a section and applying for a Certificate of Compliance. In 1972 the Collection Agency Section was permanently established and the first Certificate of Compliance was created. That first Certificate of Compliance had only four major requirements for a collection agency. The agency must

  1. be engaged as a commercial collection agency for at least three years;
  2. have an officer or manager who is a member of the CLLA;
  3. maintain a separate bank account for all collected funds; and
  4. submit a bond in the amount of $10,000. Those modest requirements were expanded over the years as the industry changed and the needs to protect the credit grantor became more important.

The certification requirements became more rigorous as the years progressed, with the main focus being the audit of the trust fund accounts. Today, the full Commercial Collection Agency Certification Program Standards and Certification is granted by the CLLA and the certification program is run by a committee of CLLA attorneys and staff, with the audits and site visits conducted by an independent third-party agent of the CLLA. The CLLA certification has been continuous since its inception.

The International Association of Commercial Collectors and its certification program
The American Collectors Association, was founded in 1939 to strengthen its industry through shared knowledge, best practices and lobbying strength. It changed its name to ACA International (ACA) in 2001. The Mission of the ACA is to “contribute to the success of its members and the positive reputation of the credit and collection industry through education, advocacy and services.” The focus of the ACA is predominantly consumer oriented.

Recognizing the growing need for commercial collections to be covered, in 1957 the ACA Commercial Division was formed. In 1970, the ACA Commercial Division was made into a separate corporation, the American Commercial Collectors Association (ACCA).3 ACCA changed its name to the International Association of Commercial Collectors (IACC) in 1995. The IACC is an organization whose members are certified and non-certified commercial collection agencies and whose associate members are commercial attorneys and Law List Publishers.

The IACC promises to “be the premiere resource for industry leaders, promoting quality commercial collection professionals to deliver high-quality, ethical and legal collection services.” Its Mission is to contribute to the growth and profitability of its members by delivering essential educational and professional tools and services in a highly collaborative and participatory environment.4 IACC introduced its Agency Certification program in the year 2000.

The IACC certification program was designed to raise the level of quality assurance and professionalism in the commercial collection industry through a program that measured professional practices against a set of carefully defined standards.5 The IACC certified agency audit of the agency’s trust account was designed to mirror the testing normally conducted by an outside CPA firm conducting an independent financial statement audit. Until 2014, the IACC certification program was managed by IACC members and staff, with the independent audit component.

start quoteIACC agency members and CLLA agency members may now receive one certification from the CLLA and are permitted to display the CLLA certification seal on their websites and stationery.end quote

Strategic Alliance is formed between the CLLA and the IACC
In or about August, 2014, the CLLA and the IACC created a strategic alliance so that one certification program would be utilized by both organizations and that the use of the CLLA Certification Seal, which has been recognized by credit grantors for many years, will continue to be granted to agencies who can demonstrate their professionalism, that they adhere to all pertinent government regulations, use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or other equally respected accounting practices, and follow established best practices to protect their clients’ money. At that time the certification program was updated. In order for any agency to obtain or renew certification, it must be determined that the agency meets or exceeds the program’s standard operational guidelines.6

IACC agency members and CLLA agency members may now receive one certification from the CLLA and are permitted to display the CLLA certification seal on their websites and stationery. While some IACC members currently maintain a separate IACC certification and a separate CLLA certification, as renewals come up, the one remaining certification will be awarded by the CLLA to IACC and CLLA members who qualify or continue to qualify. The certification program was revamped in 2014 so that the certification is a strenuous program and the certification program audits and site visits are now conducted by an independent third party.

The Commercial Collection Agencies of America and its Certification Program
The Commercial Collection Agencies of America was formed in or about June, 2014, subsequent to the disbanding of the Agency Section by the CLLA. The Commercial Collection Agencies of America holds itself out as the only organization in which every agency member is certified. Membership in the Commercial Collection Agencies of America is open to certified agencies only. Affiliate members include individual commercial attorneys and law firms. The Law List Publishers are involved with the Commercial Collection Agencies of America as special business partners. The Commercial Collection Agencies of America states that the “Logo of the organization … represents the four pillars: experience, education, ethics and expertise.7

Most of its agency members were previously certified by the CLLA or the IACC, and many of them still hold multiple certifications at this time. Since its inception, the Commercial Collection Agencies of America has utilized a “Standards Board” to create the certification program for its agency members. The Standards Board is a group of Commercial Collection Agencies of America members and non-members that creates, reviews, and amends the criteria required for a commercial collection agency to become a certified member of Commercial Collection Agencies of America. The Standards Board currently consists of three members who are now or have been affiliated with commercial collection agencies, three members who are creditors rights collection attorneys with at least one having bankruptcy experience, one member from the Association of Law List Publishers, two members who are or have been credit managers, controllers or CFOs, one member whose background is public accounting, one member whose background is business consulting and compliance, one member who is from the Credit Research Foundation and one past Executive Director of an agency organization.

Common Denominators among the Certification Programs
Each of the certification programs has requirements in common. In this author’s opinion, some of the more important requirements include:

  1. The agency must be substantially engaged in the business of collecting commercial debts.
  2. The agency must be in business for at least four years.
  3. The agency must meet annual education requirements.
  4. The agency must maintain a separate trust account for client funds which will be subject to examination.
  5. The agency must submit a surety bond to protect client funds.
  6. The agency must submit to an on-site visit.

Differences with respect to the certification process and continuation

  1. The amounts of the bonds are different. The CLLA/IACC bond is capped at $500,000. The Commercial Collection Agencies of America bond is capped at $1,000,000.
  2. For the Commercial Collection Agencies of America, the investigation into the qualifications of the agency is conducted by the Executive Director of the organization, as are the on-site visits and semi-annual review of the agency’s trust fund accounts. For the CLLA/IACC, the investigation into the qualifications of the agency is conducted by an independent third-party, as are the on-site visits and the review of the agency’s trust fund accounts and corresponding liability, which are reviewed by an independent certified public accountant.For each organization, all corporate or personal financial information is reviewed by an independent third-party surety.