Hattiesburg contracts with collection agency

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Whether it's a simple oversight or someone trying to duck out of paying a utility bill, if it's in Hattiesburg and past due, it could soon be catching up to you.

"We probably should have done this earlier, but I think it's an appropriate time to do it," said City Clerk Eddie Myers.

Myers says although he doesn't know any solid numbers, efforts to collect money owed to the city through water, sewer and garbage utility billing are going down the drain...

"We have finally determined that there is a need for some outside help," said Myers.

With that, the city council voted Tuesday afternoon to bring in the professionals.

"We bring money that would otherwise not be collected back into the budgets," said Karan McGee.

Network services is now in charge of the outstanding accounts. Karan McGee runs the place which also works with the city of Petal.

"Most people are scared of collection agencies. They think when they've got a notice it's, they just try to ignore it. The best thing they can do is contact us and work with us," said McGee.

Anyone who receives a notice is given 30 days to respond. If no response, the delinquent account will be put on your credit score. Once paid in full, it will be taken off.

"We're not here in any way to hurt them. We want to work with them, find out the reasons the debt has not been paid, find a way that they can get it paid and then work toward that end," said McGee.

This is the first time the city is using an outside collection agency and because of outdated record keeping some accounts may stay in the past due file.

"There would be some amounts that we probably will not be very successful even with outside help on because we're talking very old amounts," said Myers.

But for those who do get notices, payment plans will be an option if the amount qualifies, especially for anyone on fixed incomes.

"Basically they have issues in these economic times, people get behind on their bills. That's nothing to be ashamed of in this day and time," said McGee.

But it's time now, city leaders say, to flush away those past due amounts.

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