Collections Department

Saranac Lake: 518-891-1666
Mission Statement:

To maintain a member's dignity and respect by partnering with our members to reach a mutual goal of repayment responsibilities during unplanned life situations.


What is the Collections Department?

The Collections Department has often been tagged the 'bad guy' of a financial organization. In fact, your Credit Union's Collection Department can be a source of information for preserving your credit rating, helping to make your payment plan a little easier during tough times, and working within our guidelines to make intermediary arrangements for short-term emergencies.


We realize it takes a lot of courage to approach a collector about a past due payment. Many people have an image of a collector as a rigid individual who employs heavy-handed tactics to collect on bad accounts. At Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union we are constantly working to disprove that stereotype. Your loan accounts are important to us and repayment difficulties are most often the result of hardship and unforeseen circumstances. The best remedy during these times is open and honest communication between the collector and the member.

Our collectors will send out notices to remind you of payment due. We may also make a phone call to you to see if there's something the Credit Union can do to help get your payment program back on track.

The department handles the legal end of foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments, etc. But, rest assured, many alternatives are offered before any of the legal routes are chosen.

What Can You do to Preserve Your Credit?

Talk. Communicate. Be honest.

Good communications between the member and the collections department is a must. If you lose your job, or perhaps there's sickness in the family that prevents someone from working, give your collections department a call.

Don't wait until the loan is 60 days past due - make a plan early. Let us know what the situation is. By all means, if you make a plan with the collector keep your promise. The same honesty our members expect of the Credit Union is expected from our members.

What are Some of the Things the Collection Department Can Offer?

  • Re-writes
  • Extensions
  • Interest - Only
  • Notes to the File (communications of expectations)

Knowledgeable collectors can make suggestions and communicate the next step.

What if I Just Wait and See What Happens?

It's best if you let your collector know what is going on. Each time you phone the Collector a message can be added to your file, noting what the problem is and what your plan is. Having good communication lets the Collector know you're working on the problem and have a plan. This being the case, you will still receive the notices as reminders, however, the Collector will not phone unless the plan is not carried out.

Waiting more than just a couple of weeks can jeopardize your credit rating.

  • 8 days late - just a friendly reminder from the Credit Union and restriction of valuable Credit Union products and services.
  • 30 days late - second reminder letter and continued restriction of valuable Credit Union products and services. Credit Bureau reporting takes place.
  • 60 days late - Final notice from Credit Union and continued restriction of valuable Credit Union products and services. Credit Bureau reporting takes place and legal action could start.

What Happens if My Collateral is Repossessed?

Your vehicle is not repossessed without the collections department working diligently to make arrangements for payment, communicating by phone and mail (sometimes email), and making every effort to work with a member to make a plan to get payment.

If communication has broken down and promises broken, it can lead to legal action.



If your collateral is repossessed, you will have 10 days to recover your collateral, usually by paying the loan in full. Your personal effects are available to you by contacting the collector. There is no charge for picking up your personal belongings from a vehicle, however, arrangements need to be made ahead of time with the collector.


If you're unable to recover the vehicle, the Credit Union will take charge of getting the collateral cleaned, repaired if necessary and placing the vehicle for bids. Cost of towing, cleaning and repairs are the responsibility of the member owner and will be deducted from the monies gained by sale of the vehicle. The highest bid will be the successful bidder. We do have blue books available for all collateral. If the collateral repairs are cost-prohibitive, based on the value of the vehicle, the Credit Union may choose to get a bid from a salvage yard. It is in the best interest of both the Credit Union and the member to get the highest bid possible for collateral.

After the bid, costs are paid from sale proceeds and the rest of the money goes toward the balance of the loan. This does not advance the due date on the loan.

You will be notified of the sale of your vehicle and any balance that my remain. You will again, have 10 days to respond to the collector. This response will be critical to making arrangements for monthly payment of the residual balance. The member remains responsible for this loan balance.

If no communication is made by the member, the collector will seek other legal avenues to get repayment of the loan. These avenues could include Small Claims Court, Court Judgment, Garnishment of pay and tax refunds, or attachment of a lien on other properties owned by the member.

With so many alternatives, there is very little reason for a member to lose collateral. Again, communication and honesty are the best tools any member and the Credit Union can use.

I've Had a Loan Charged Off in the Past Due to Non-Payment. It Still Appears on My Credit Report.

Records are kept by the Credit Union. Having a charge off or repossession reported to your credit report will put a bad light on your credit ratings for a long time. If you've had problems in the past and have seen yourself clear of them, now is the time to make good on past bad debt.

The collector will work with you to set up full or monthly payments on past bad debts with the credit union.

Notation to your credit report will be made by the Credit Union. Bad debt is never good, but if you've make good on it, it's viewed much differently by future loan officers.

Circumstances Beyond My Control are Making it Necessary for Me to File Bankruptcy - Now What?

If you have outstanding loans with the Credit Union you may want to contact your collector. Debt that is reaffirmed during bankruptcy means that the institution doesn't suffer a loss because of your bankruptcy. You will continue to make payment to the loan during and after the bankruptcy. The Credit Union doesn't look at your bankruptcy as a 'bad thing' as long as we haven't suffered a loss. In order to help you remain a member in good standing we are even open to arranging payment plans outside of the bankruptcy. Remember, you will still need a financial institution after the bankruptcy - the Credit Union wants you as a member.


Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government

An Equal Housing Lender


Copyright Tri-Lakes Federal Credit Union, 2000-2009

updated 8-19-08