Each member shall:
(1) In general conduct
(2) In relations with creditors
- Maintain a high standard of fairness, honesty and courtesy in the conduct of business and avoid any activity which would bring reproach on this profession or the CCCA.
- Provide efficient collection service in the territory served; protect the interest of creditors; and give prompt and diligent attention to all claims received for collection.
- Operate under a name which does not imply or suggest that the agency is a branch of or associated with any department of the federal government, a local government or any court.
- Make certain that all personnel are familiar with this Code of Ethics and that they fully comply with it.
- Avoid the unauthorized practice of law.
- Comply with all California and federal laws and regulations.
(3) In relations with debtors
- Comply with instructions given by creditors in the processing of a claim promptly or give reasons for not doing so and ask for further instructions.
- Maintain a trust account separate and apart from the member’s general account into which monies rightfully belonging to creditors shall be deposited.
- Identify clearly all charges to the creditor. Service charges by the member are separate and apart from commissions and fees earned by a receiving attorney.
- Remit to creditors as specified by the debtor where a number of claims against the same debtor are being collected.
- Within 30 days after the close of a calendar month during which monies are collected for a creditor, account in writing and remit to that creditor all monies collected and received during the month less commissions and services charges.
- Not permit any creditor to use any forms, letters or other material bearing the member’s name as a preliminary service for which no charge is made in the collection of a debt (free demand service), unless such form, letter or other material states that the debt will be placed with the member for collection if it is not paid within a specified period of time after the date thereon.
- Advance court costs and suit fees on behalf of a creditor only at the creditor’s specific request, and bill the creditor for such costs and fees at the same time they are forwarded to an attorney.
(4) Courtesy in the conduct of business
- Avoid deceptive practices, statements or materials which would cause debtors to believe they are dealing with someone other than the member.
- Show due consideration for debtor’s problems and deal with them according to the merits of their individual cases.
- In the event a claim is disputed, obtain from the creditor and provide the debtor with such documents or information necessary to validate the debt.
- Avoid any harassment by telephone or personal calls.
- If the debtor states that he is represented by an attorney and identifies same or if the agency is contacted by debtor’s attorney, then the agency shall deal directly with the attorney. However, should the attorney fail to respond to calls or letters from the agency, then the agency may continue to contact and negotiate with the debtor.
- Not represent that, if payment is not received by a specific date, a claim will be placed with an attorney or litigation will be commenced, unless:
- the representation indicates that such action has been authorized by the creditor; and
- such representation is true.
- It shall be considered contrary to high standards of “courtesy in the conduct of business” within the meaning of section 1(a) of the Code of Ethics for an officer, owner, partner of a commercial collection agency to initiate communications with an employee of another agency for the purpose of employing that employee without first advising an officer, owner or partner of the other agency; but this does not apply where an employee of an agency responds to a public advertisement or initiates discussion of employment with another agency.
- It shall be deemed contrary to “high standards of fairness, honesty” in the conduct of business under section 1(a) of the Code of Ethics for a member to give a credit manager any inducement to place accounts with the member, other than normal business entertainment or nominal gifts.