The Life of a Bill Collector…Dana Smith

By Tavion Meekins

Have you ever been sitting down and just randomly heard the phone ring, and you pick it up and it’s a bill collector?  What do you do when you pick up? Do you listen to what they say or just hang up?

Dana Smith, a bill collector, works for Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC. Founded in 1996, Portfolio Recovery it is one of the nation’s largest debt collection companies, employing about 4,000 people across the Americas and Europe.

“Being a bill collector is like any other customer service job. Your job is to help people pay their bills when they become past due,” said Ms. Smith.  “Account collectors make on average an hourly wage of $15.47, or an annual salary of $32,180, with the lowest at $10.17 hourly.”

Debt collectors help companies get paid. Their job is to track down people who owe money from overdue bills and negotiate payment. Usually, this is done over the phone or by mail. If that person is no longer at that address or phone number, they may try to track them down using the web, post office or other means.

In all of Ms. Smith’s years as a bill collector she has been threatened and even had her children threatened. Debtors have come to her office and had to be removed by the police.

Ms. Smith has made debt collection her career for 15 years. During collections, Ms. Smith sometimes has to talk to people who speak a different language, fortunately she speaks Spanish and German.  Ms. Smith said it was her mother who helped her perfect her “craft” as a bill collector.

“My mom was a bill collector, and I always loved math, so it came easy for me,” said Ms. Smith.

Ms. Smith offered some advice to anyone interested in a future as a debt collector, ”Just be kind and able to negotiate well with people, and be ready to take on threats and disrespect of any kind.”

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