Veracity teaches consumers to become credit savvy
The word “veracity” means devotion to the truth. Though some consumers might shudder when they learn that the collection agency visiting them uses “veracity” in its name, the word has special meaning for the six employees at Veracity Financial Group LLC in Des Moines who do more than simply collect unpaid bills. Call it service with a smile and a purpose.
“Finding the truth is an important part of what we do here,” said Reike Plecas, director of operations and sales for Veracity, who has worked in the collection industry for 22 years. “We want to enlighten people on how we can help them, so we educate our staff on how to educate consumers. We want to change the face of the collection industry. We’re not here to be that ugly voice people curse.”
This week is National Credit Education Week and an important reminder to consumers, Plecas said, to find ways to avoid credit problems.
“Everybody has had a credit issue at one time or another,” Plecas said. “So we want to educate consumers on debt and debt management. We give them hands-on solutions with ways to be proactive to resolve potential problems.”
For years, Veracity has been working with businesses in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, credit unions, banks and municipalities. The company’s mainstay, however, is rural hospitals. Plecas said nearly 50 percent of the company’s clients are rural hospitals and medical businesses, many of which are located in southern Iowa. Veracity officials estimate they serve approximately 18 percent of all rural hospitals in Iowa, and that figure is continually growing.
“There’s not a lot of money in small towns and many people can’t afford insurance,” said Mischele Boston, trainer and compliance manager for Veracity. “As insurance rates go up, most people opt for higher deductibles and co-pays, which means more out-of-pocket expense for families, which creates the potential for more debt.”
Taking on collections for rural hospitals can be risky business, Plecas said, but the company has a high rate of success in fields most collectors won’t enter.
“We ask clients to give us their ‘sloppy seconds’ after a primary collector fails to collect a bill,” he said. “We’ve been able to collect 14 percent, which is a high rate of success, and that’s all gravy back to the hospitals. But we do it by helping the consumer, too.”
To help consumers pare down debt, Boston said, Veracity assists them in prioritizing their bills and eliminating unnecessary expenses. It also helps consumers reduce interest rates for mortgages and provides tax tips.
“We help them create good habits,” she said. “It’s easy for us to assume that a large section of people are credit savvy, but I never take that stance. I do believe more people are becoming more aware of credit issues, but being proactive is a different story.”
Changing the image of their industry is also important to Plecas and Boston. They prefer to call their work “debt solutions” rather than collections, and collectors at Veracity are identified as “customer care agents.”
Plecas said Veracity will continue to serve rural Iowa, but is also branching out into metropolitan areas.
“We’re a one-of-a-kind company, and we do a very good job in our own communities,” he said. “Our goal as we grow is to find ways to work more efficiently for our clients.”