Digital Footprints: The Best Credit Applications Include E-Mail Addresses

I’ve got a client who does a great job on their collection referrals. Their referral packet includes the usual: addresses for the borrower; whether the borrower owns the property; employment information; banking information; and copies of the relevant loan documents.

But, tucked away in their Credit Application, there’s an extra line that includes a unique request: provide an e-mail address.

You may wonder how an e-mail address could help in collections. If the borrower isn’t answering your calls and is dodging your process server, you may think, how quickly would they delete an e-mail from you?

The e-mail address isn’t merely a way to make contact with the borrower. Instead, it provides a unique way to identify and locate them online. In collecting on an unpaid debt, I’ve found that an e-mail address is as close as a digital footprint as there is online.

As an illustration, imagine running a Facebook or LinkedIn search for “Mike Jones.”  You’ll get hundreds of false hits, because there are probably a lot of Mike Jones in this world. But, with an e-mail address, you would run a search for “mikejones1974@gmail.com.” There’s only one of that person.

So, that internet search results in finding the person you’re looking for, because Facebook and other social networking services allow you to search both by name or e-mail address. Plus, you’ll potentially find a long list of online activity, whether it be comments on blogs (be careful in the comments section below) or other postings online.

People tend to keep active e-mail addresses, especially ones they’ve used for years. It’s a great resource, and an easy, discrete piece of information to ask for.

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