Tag Archives: Cash Flow Strategies

5 Things to Avoid When Collecting Debt From Customers

22 Aug

Before conducting debt collections, make sure you understand the do’s and don’ts of the industry.

The do’s and don’ts of collecting debt are a sticky wicket. If you do it wrong, you can alienate potential customers, ruin your reputation, and maybe even pick up a hefty fine from regulators. Playing by the rules means compliance with all laws, certainly, but also collecting debt in a way that treats every customer with dignity and respect.

Here are five things to avoid when collecting debt from customers.

Do Not Try This at Home – or at the Office

We’ve heard all the horror stories from collections gone awry. Industry publications such as Inside ARM often report on companies fined by regulators for breaking collection regulations. Our biggest complaint, beyond the fact that these techniques are generally not effective, is that conducting yourself in this manner gives the collections industry a bad reputation. Not good!

The best course of action is to partner with a professional collection agency like TSI. But just in case you plan to give debt recovery on your own a try, here are some things that should never be part of your DIY debt collection strategy:

  1. Don’t stalk your customers. Really! This means you (or the debt collector for that matter) cannot show up at someone’s workplace and demand they pay you. The law also prohibits you from publicizing the debt, too, so even though you want to go on Facebook call out someone that owes you money – don’t. Here is the caveat: You may, respectfully, call the customer at work but you cannot let the other workers know that you’re trying to collect on a debt. Plus, if the customer asks you to not call them at work, you legally must comply.
  2. Don’t harass your customers. See #1. But actions such as repeated calls, threats of violence, and extreme language are not only bad form, they’re illegal too. For a small business owner, it feels personal when someone doesn’t pay. But conducting yourself in a professional way will pay off in the long run.

There are rules about pursuing debt collections – make sure you follow them.

  1. You can’t arrest the debtor. Sorry, we know this may not feel fair, but if a customer is 90-days past due, you cannot call 911 for help. However, there may be legal actions you can take in certain circumstances.
  2. You cannot pursue the debtor for things they don’t owe. This happens a lot when the data you have on the customer is inaccurate. So many times we see that the person already paid the debt but the information wasn’t logged properly. A simple mistake can land you in hot water, so use caution and double-check the facts before pursuing a debt.
  3. You cannot call at odd hours of the day and night. Did you know there are rules that state you can only call a past-due customer between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm? For small business owners that work hard all day, this means just because you’re up at 7:30 am you can’t squeeze in a few collections calls.

If you’re worried about running afoul of the rules of collecting debt, you don’t need to.

Contact me today at 888-780-1333, and I’ll show you how to collect more money, cut costs, and stay 100% compliant with all of the many laws and regulations that relate to debt collection.

After all…it’s your money!  Keep more of it!!

All You Need To Know About HIPAA Business Associate Agreements

18 Aug

Source:  Jeff Broudy, PCIHIPAA

Medical and dental practices are hearing more and more about large fines and data breaches surrounding HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).   Many are fearful that significant fines could affect their practice, their patients, and their livelihood.  Is this a real threat?  I believe it is.  HIPAA law is confusing and protecting the security and privacy of your patient information is critical.  And with the enactment of the Omnibus Rule back in 2013, HIPAA compliance now extends to your Business Associates.

The Ponemon Institute states that 39% of all Business Associates have experienced a data breach, and in one case a practice was fined $31,000 for not having a Business Associate Agreement on file.  That’s an expensive document!

As HIPAA Compliance Specialists, a day rarely goes by that we don’t receive questions about Business Associates.  “Who’s a Business Associate?”  “Do I have risks if I don’t have execute the proper agreements?“ What does my practice need to do?”  In fact, out partners at PCIHIPAA created a HIPAA Webinar Series for our clients to help answer these questions.  Let me know if you would like more information on this webinar series, and let me help clarify some of these questions.

) “Do I need to have a Business Associate Agreements on file?”

Yes.  If you are a Covered Entity under HIPAA, you are required to execute Business Associate Agreements. The Health and Human Services website (HHS.gov) defines a Covered Entity as health care providers who electronically transmit any health information in connection with transactions for which HHS has adopted standards.

Bottom line:  Examples of Covered Entities under HIPAA are: Doctors, Clinics, Psychologists, Dentists, Chiropractors, Oral Surgeons, Podiatrists, Opthamologists, Nursing Homes, Pharmacies, Health Insurance Companies, HOMs, Company Health Plans, and Labs are all considered to be Covered Entities.

2) “Then, who is a Business Associate?

A Business Associate as any organization or person working in association with, or providing services to, a Covered Entity who handles or discloses Protected Health Information (PHI) or Personal Health Records (PHR.)  A business associate may also be a subcontractor that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits PHI on behalf of another business associate.  Think of it this way, if you contract with a person or an entity that needs access to your PHI to do their job, they are most likely a Business Associate.

Bottom line:  Examples of Business Associates are Lawyers, Accountants, IT Programmers and Representatives, Shredding Companies, Marketing Software Companies, Practice Management Software Providers, Data Backup and Storage Companies, and Billing Companies.   

“Are there exceptions?”

Yes.  HIPAA excludes conduits of information (UPS, FedEx), governmental agencies (Medicare and Medicaid), and anyone else this is not required to handle your PHI to do their jobs (Janitors, Landlords, Water Delivery Services).  Also your employees are not considered Business Associates.  They need to be trained on HIPAA, but you don’t need to execute Business Associate Agreements with your employees. 

3) “What exactly is a Business Associate Agreement, and why is it important?”

A Business Associate Agreement is a binding legal document that is now required under HIPAA for you to execute with all of your Business Associates. It is imperative that your practice has Business Associate Agreements in place, with a log kept for reference. Because your practice (as a Covered Entity) is sharing PHI with your Business Associate, this document ensures that the HIPAA mandates are in place and that your patients are protected.   If you use the right Business Associate Agreement, it also includes an “Indemnity Clause.”  The Indemnity Clause protects you financially, if PHI is compromised under your Business Associate’s watch.  This is a crucial clause that should be included in any Business Associate Agreement you execute.

Contact me for more information and/or assistance in creating a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for your practice.

Click Here to take a free, no-obligation, HIPAA Risk Assessment.  The results will inform you of where you are compliant and where you are deficient in your HIPPA security.

Money For Your Business, When The Bank Says, “No!”

29 Mar

money

Traditional bank loans can be sluggish and an increasing number of deserving small and medium sized businesses get turned down.  Businesses need funding for renovations, expansion, additional inventory, upgrading equipment, launching a new advertising campaign, or any one of many other reasons.  What can a business owner do when the bank won’t budge?

Merchant funding provides a great alternative to banks for all of these necessities.  Approval is not dependent on your credit score.  Unlike banks, no formal business plan is required, and neither is collateral.

If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, you are eligible to receive between $10,000 and $1,000,000 in less than 1 week!

  • Do you have bank statements for the last 4 months?
  • Have you been in business for at least 1 year?
  • Do you have at least $10,000 per month in gross sales?

In just minutes, you could be on your way to a renovated facility, state-of-the-art technology, and sophisticated marketing campaigns that make your business stand out and keep customers coming through your door.

Get cash in your bank account in as little as 48 hours!

For more information on this and other ways to improve your business cash flow, contact me, David Wiener, at 888-780-1333.

To find out how much money your business could qualify for, click here.

First-Party vs. Third-Party Accounts Receivable

30 Nov

You know that understanding the details of how your accounts receivable department works is vital to the long-term success of your business. Without diligent attention, it can become one of the biggest financial headaches within your company.

Accounts receivable can be handled in one of two ways: first-party and third-party management. This may seem self-explanatory; first-party means your company manages AR in-house, while third-party means you’ve outsourced to an outside company. This is true on the surface, but there is a secondary way to look at the issue. First-party accounts receivable management can also mean that a separate company handles your AR.

To understand how this is possible, it’s important to look at the process of collecting on outstanding accounts, and at which stage first- and third-party management are best utilized.

 

Identifying Which Collection Strategy Is Best For You

In the business world, it is inevitable that some of your customers will fail to settle their account in a timely manner. Some may need a gentle reminder or two, while others may need to implement a repayment plan to meet their obligation. Others will simply not pay at all. You know that the longer your company goes without recouping those funds, the harder it is for your cash flow to remain healthy.

If your company is looking for a streamlined approach to collecting on overdue accounts, you can enlist the help of an outside company to handle both first-party and third-party management.

 

Early Stages – First-Party Management

When the account is only slightly overdue, first-party management is recommended. This is when all communication with the customer appears to come directly from your company, even if a separate company is handling it. First-party management is about trying to cure an account or prevent a loss, so early intervention is crucial. The treatment of accounts worked first-party and in a pre-charge off situation, is often the same.

At TSI, our goal is to become an extension of your back-end operations, streamlining the first-party collection process for you. Your branding and communication guidelines are strictly followed. Reminder letters and calls are common during this stage. We strive to maintain a relationship with the customer and help everybody reach a workable solution.

 

Later Stages – Third-Party Management

The decision to move to third-party management is usually due to the failure of a customer to respond to earlier messages. People commonly refer to this stage as ‘being in collections;’ communications are now coming directly from a separate company. The third-party is still acting on behalf of your business. Post-charge off work would also fall under this stage.

With third-party management, other tactics can now be used to locate the customer and bring the account up-to-date, aiming to instill a sense of urgency in the debtor. Third-party management is often more regulated than first-party and is always covered under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

Ultimately, third-party management is about liquidating the total balance written off, and TSI can help. Our diplomatic process is designed to maintain a positive relationship with the customer while encouraging them to settle their account quickly. We utilize our proprietary data analytics platform and collection tactics including skip tracing, credit bureau reporting, and bankruptcy monitoring to increase your liquidity rates and develop more accurate revenue forecasting.

But the real value of our operations is in our people. You can rely on our seasoned collection experts to work diligently on your behalf, backed by extensive training and support.

 

Reach Your Goals With A Trusted Partner

Working together with a partner from the early stages can benefit both you and your customers. It allows the partner to become familiar with an account in receivables right from the beginning, so they can better judge if and when to move an account from first-party to third-party status.

It also relieves the burden from your in-house staff of having to chase down overdue accounts. Your team can focus on other areas of the company to keep operations running smoothly, knowing that a trusted partner is acting on your behalf to bring your accounts receivables up to date.

Finally, you can develop a customized approach to give your customers an integrated experience, which could result in a higher percentage of accounts being settled during the early stages.

TSI is committed to providing personalized services to your customers, maintaining and enhancing relationships while helping you recoup lost revenue. Our integrated collections platform combines best-in-class technologies with data-driven workflows to facilitate effective and compliant operations for our clients. Contact me today to explore your options.

Source: TSI

Medical and Dental Practices, What Would You Do?

7 Jan
WWYDLogoWhat would you do if your patient data was stolen or a fire or flood destroyed your office?  Suppose one of your employees opened a malicious e-mail and your patient data was encrypted and held for ransom?   I know this sounds absurd, but just Google “data for ransom”.  What would be your first step?  With most medical records being stored digitally, it’s not a matter of if you’ll experience an incident regarding your electronic patient information; it’s a matter of when.
Technology is moving so fast in every industry, but in the medical industry, technology advancements are leading to more and more protected health information (PHI) theft and data breaches.   Patient information is not being properly protected. As you are well aware, protecting your patient’s confidential information is the law. Computers, laptops, e-mail, mobile devices, and thumb drives, all store and send ePHI.  Without the proper controls in place, your patient information can easily fall into the wrong hands, exposing your OMS practice to large governmental fines, and reputational risk.
HIPAA just announced that they will be conducting random audits starting in 2016.  Their pilot audit program revealed that many small to mid – size medical practices are not taking the necessary steps to protect their patient information and are not complying with even the basic HIPAA Security and Privacy Laws.   The HIPAA Security Rule now mandates that every practice take an annual risk assessment. The government also strengthened its ability to enforce the law in medical practices with fines reaching up to $50,000 per violation with a maximum $1.5 million annual penalty.  This is why Cash Flow Strategies is recommending PCIHIPAA, as a dedicated source for protecting your practice.
Cash Flow Strategies has many of our clients participating in their Compliance Program.  They have agreed to provide a complimentary HIPAA Risk Assessment (a $599 value).  You can take the Risk Assessment online and immediately receive your risk score with no further obligation.  I encourage you to take 5 to 10 minutes as soon as possible to complete the Risk Assessment  by clicking here. You’ll receive a 23- page Risk Analysis, and a 30-minute consultation that you can also schedule online.
Just click here to start your Risk Assessment.  It will be a great way to start your practice off on the right track in 2016.
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