TN 81 (04-24)

GN 02210.222 Debt Contact Representative (DCR) Use of Telephone in Debt Collection

A. Introduction

These instructions provide a Debt Contact Representative (DCR) with actions needed when calling a Title II or Title XVI debtor.

NOTE: Telephone calls may also be made when trying to identify a proper address for billing and debt collection.

B. Reminders

If you need to call a debtor, you should make the calls at different times on varying days, for example, Monday 11:00 A.M., Tuesday 8:00 A.M., Wednesday 1:00 P.M., and Friday 3:00 P.M. Document your contact efforts on the Debt Management System (DMS) Remarks (RMKS) screen. For more information on the DMS Remarks screen, see MS 01109.002 and MS 01109.003

1. Telephone interpreter service

SSA is committed to providing fair and equitable service to all of its customers, including debtors, regardless of their English proficiency. Therefore, SSA contracts with a service to handle immediate telephone language interpretations for SSA public contact employees nationwide. For instructions on using this service see the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) GN 00203.011B

2. Debtor responsibilities

Remind the debtor of his or her responsibility to repay the debt. Tell the debtor that they:

  • have the option of paying by check, money order, credit card, or ;

  • may be subject to Tax Refund Offset (TRO), Administrative Offset, and Credit Bureau Reporting if he or she does not make a payment.

    • For more information on Title II, for TRO see .GN 02201.030 , for Administrative Offset, see GN 02201.031 and for Credit Bureau Reporting, see GN 00201.032 .

    • For more information on Title XVI, for TRO, see .SI 02220.012 , for Administrative Offset, see SI 02220.01 , and for Credit Bureau Reporting, see SI 02220.014 ; and

  • will be subject to cross program recovery if it becomes available.

3. Debtor not selected for the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) and Credit Bureau Reporting

When discussing overpayments with debtors, keep in mind that not all debts meet the criteria for selection for TOP and Credit Bureau Reporting.

a. Title II debts

We will not select Title II cases with certain characteristics for TOP and credit bureau reporting.

We will not select cases if the:

  • Title II debtor is in LAF “S” or any LAF other than “T, U, X, N or P”;

  • debt was established before the debtor attained age 18;

  • debt shows an indication that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is involved, such as a Transaction Code (TC)31, TC-32, or TC-70;

  • Title II debt is a type of event (TOE) 16, 29, or 31; or

  • debtor is deceased.

b. Title XVI debts

We will not select Title XVI debts with certain characteristics for TOP and credit bureau reporting.

We will not select debts with the following characteristics for TOP if the:

  • debt has a future payment status (PSTAT) code of “C01,” which indicates that the former recipient will soon go into current pay status;

  • payment status is other than “N” or “T”; or

  • debt was established before the debtor attained age 18.

C. General guidelines for using telephone in debt collection

When calling a debtor, avoid the following:

  • inflammatory, obscene or profane language;

  • idle threats (actions which SSA cannot enforce) or threats of violence;

  • telephone calls at unreasonable hours (before 8:00 A.M. and after 9:00 P.M.) Be alert to the time difference when a debtor lives in another part of the country;

  • misrepresentation of the debtor's or SSA's legal rights;

  • disclosure of a debtor's personal business to a debtor's employer, friend, or neighbor;

  • obtaining information by false pretenses;

  • issuance of documents simulating legal process; and

  • contact at a place of employment if the DCR (or Field Office) knows or has reason to know that the employer prohibits such contact.

D. Procedure contacting debtors

1. Obtaining the debtor’s phone number

Step Action
1 Query the Debt Bill screen (IBIL). If this fails, check the Debtor Data Screen (IDQD), the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), and the Supplemental Security Income Record (SSR).
2 If the record contains no number or a wrong number, attempt to locate a valid number using Accurint, or, which is available in the SSA digital Library.
3 If unable to obtain current number, query the Master Earnings File (MEF) for name and address of last employer.
4 Call employer (unless such contact is prohibited) and attempt debtor contact or obtain debtor's home number.
5 If a telephone number cannot be obtained but the current address is valid treat as a debtor not repaying the overpayment. Follow “the debtor is not repaying the overpayment” procedures for Title II in GN 02210.217C, and for Title XVI in GN 02210.217E.
6 If unable to obtain a telephone number and the address of record is not valid, see Skiptracing in GN 02210.213.

2. Identify the debtor

To release any information from our records, you must be certain of the caller's identity. We have established specific guidelines for verifying the caller's identity when he or she requests access to or disclosure of information.

If you contact the debtor, verify the caller’s identity using instructions in .GN 00203.020 . Once you verify the identity of the debtor, follow the instructions below. For more information on releasing information by telephone, see GN 03360.005 .

IMPORTANT: If you are unable to verify the identity, do not release any information.

3. Contact with the debtor

Follow these instructions based on results of the call:

If the debtor: then follow:
is willing to pay in full, or agrees to repay in installments; GN 02210.214
is subject to cross program recovery;

Title II: GN 02210.008, and

Title XVI: SI 02220.020

is willing to pay via credit card; GN 02210.205
offers a compromise settlement; GN 02210.215
alleges any kind of repayment (check or money order, offset, credit card); GN 02210.216
is unable to pay, or is not repaying; GN 02210.217 and GN 02215.150
requests explanation of overpayment, reconsideration or waiver; GN 02210.219
requests change of billing date; MS 1108.003
requests change in installment amount; MS 1108.003
requests or needs an interpreter; GN 00203.011B

4. Contact with a third party

If you reach a third party while attempting phone contact, do not discuss the overpayment or the nature of your business. Follow this chart:

If: then:
the debtor is not at home or unable to come to the phone; find out when we can reach the debtor.
the third party asks if debtor can return call;
  • leave a message for the debtor to call during a specified time; and

  • annotate in the RMKS screen that you requested the debtor to call at a specific time.

the third party indicates the debtor is deceased; follow the instructions on “How to Process Death Cases - DCR/DS Actions” in GN 02210.221.

5. Contact with an answering machine

If you reach a phone answering service or machine, leave a message for the debtor to call during a specified time. Do not discuss the overpayment or the nature of your business in the message. Annotate in the DMS RMKS screen that you requested the debtor to call at a specific time.


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GN 02210.222 - Debt Contact Representative (DCR) Use of Telephone in Debt Collection - 04/02/2024
Batch run: 04/02/2024