Non-Payer? Or Scammer? A New Step for Client Engagement

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Non-Payer? Or Scammer? A New Step for Client Engagement

We hear about scams and frauds every day in the news. An elderly person is convinced to donate money to a scam charity, or doctors defraud Medicare, or someone’s identity is stolen, or the IRS’s website is hacked…. Thing is – like car accidents – we never think a scam can happen to us. So we simply, and naively, go about our days and our business thinking we are somehow immune. We are such nice people, so very giving, and can’t imagine anyone would ever try to take advantage of us…Right? No. Wrong. Wrong, and expensive. One of our APHA members confessed to me last week that she had completed almost $6000 worth of work for a woman in another state who needed help with a social security disability filing. She began the relationship well and correctly, sending a contract for signature, and insisting on partial payment up front. But the woman was so very desperate, pleading…  deadlines came up swiftly and needed to be met…… the advocate felt trapped by the desperation and deadlines, jumped right into the work and got it done. The client collected $21,000 in disability payments!  Great job, right? But the uncrossed T’s and the undotted I’s are now coming back to bite the advocate in the backside… because the client never did return the contract with her signature, paid only $500 to get started … and now refuses both her signature and payment for the remaining balance. Not only does she refuse to sign, or pay, but she is now disputing whether the advocate really did any of the work, claiming she did most of it herself. Say what? That’s when the advocate contacted me, wanting to know what recourse she might have to collect. In her email to me she made a statement that provided me with one of those lightbulb moments – OMG – this signals the need for a whole new step in an advocate’s prep for working with a new client. Step:  Check out the background of a potential client to see if he or she has a problematic track…


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