It is a few days before month end ÔÇô the days in which an important SMS from your banker usually beep into your mobile phone. You are possibly preparing to get to work after a late night of watching a soccer match of the ongoing FIFA World Cup held in Russia. But just before you insert the car key into the ignition, your phone rings – the caller identity reads a number you don’t easily recognize, but you pick up anyway. With someone calling at such an early hour, it could be important.
The unfamiliar voice quickly informs you that you owe hundreds of Pulas on an unpaid debt ÔÇô a debt you don’t even recall having. The debt collector says that, unless you pay immediately, bad things are going to happen. So what do you do?
Coping with debt collectors is difficult enough, but surprisingly, the scenario depicted above isn’t unusual in Botswana. How do you know if the call is legitimate? These days, debt collection scams seem to be all too common.
Elliot Moshoke, founder and Chief Executive of Real Debt Recovery ÔÇô a local company that specialises in debt collection advises how best those highly indebted can pay their dues as well as how corporates and individuals can better collect the large sums of money owed to them.
Moshoke says his company has discovered that with scammers becoming more sophisticated, households may find themselves paying for debts that are not theirs.
One of the latest scams entails households receiving harassing phone calls and voicemails from fake debt collectors threatening legal action in an attempt to collect money that is not actually owed.
Legitimate debt collection companies should be able to immediately provide documentation, including history of the debt being collected, Moshoke said.
“The first thing to do when approached by anyone claiming to be a debt collector is to ask for proof that you owe the debt, you have every right to be provided with proof that indeed the debt is yours and the amounts claimed verified”, says Moshoke.
People shouldn’t be threatened with arrest by a debt collector, Moshoke added.
“Do not allow debt collectors to abuse you by threatening you that they will attach your property, ask for the order of court. Ask for the deputy sheriff to produce identity card from High Court indicating that they are deputy sheriff under law”.
Armed with a legal and finance background, Moshoke grabbed an opportunity to establish a debt recovery company some 16 years back which now boast boasts clientele ranging from insurance companies, ISP providers, and security companies just to mention a few. The company is also developing campaigns to sensitise the public about debt and ways of cleaning their profile.
“We use our extensive resources, like source based deductions to obtain payment and make contact with your debtor to ensure a constant collection rate. Our experience and strong presence in the country gives RDR an edge ahead of the “treating customers fairly” which is key to basic debt collection ethics”, said Moshoke in the capital Gaborone this past week.
RDR, an indigenous debt collection firm says it prides itself with highly focused, easily accessible and well experienced group of executive directors.
Meanwhile the company is also said to be sniffing around at opportunities on distressed debt portfolio acquisitions and outsourced collections solutions in Botswana to expand its collection business footprint.