Shareholder Sara Costanzo
and attorney Scott Best
recently attended the 2023 Northeast Utilities Credit & Collection Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. The event provides educational and informational sessions related to collections for utilities located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Now, Sara and Scott are sharing their top four takeaways from this informative event!
1. Increased delinquencies
A topic that was mentioned in many sessions was the anticipated (and significant) growth in the number of delinquencies for utility bill customers. The reasons for the increase varied from rate increases, to the reduction or elimination of government benefits and relaxing of the restrictions on the utility companies in shutting off non-paying accounts, and the general increase of debt for many consumers leading to defaults in many areas. One thing that was nearly unanimous was that there was a delinquency wave coming, if not already here. Preparedness in handling those delinquencies was a key concern.
2. Bankruptcy servicing
Related to the anticipated flood of delinquent accounts, another frequent issue was the rise in bankruptcy filings and what, if anything, can be done beyond filing a proof of claim related to the account. Adequate assurance in deposits post-petition is a major factor in ensuring repayment.
3. Focus on efficiency
Utility companies and their vendors are making use of a variety of strategies to enhance collection of delinquent accounts. These strategies attempt to determine the best methods and action plans to efficiently and effectively increase revenue while reducing time and money spent in those efforts. Such efforts have yielded very positive results to date. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are key resources in the face of staffing challenges.
4. Correct information
Utilities should make every effort to confirm that they have the correct information when setting up an account and should take steps to verify that information. Should an account go delinquent, it is important to have the correct information for the account. Additionally, the increasing rate of ID theft and fraud and/or using stolen or artificially generated information can have a tremendous impact on revenue and utilities should take all reasonable and necessary steps to confirm identity information.
If you have additional questions about this topic, feel free to contact Sara
at any time.
This blog is not a solicitation for business, and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way.