Is Ignorance Really Bliss? Spoiler Alert: It's Not!
There’s a lightbulb at a firehouse in Livermore, California that has been burning (irony intended) since 1901 (with just a few exceptions due to relocation). Believe it or not, people travel from a distance just to get a glimpse of this unassuming old relic. There are few explanations as to how an incandescent bulb has glowed for so long, one being the absence of built-in planned obsolescence. Nowadays we have bulbs that are LED, fluorescent, energy-efficient, and “smart”, but none as modest yet mighty as that firehouse 4-watt light. This lightbulb is a cool reminder of the respect we should have for innovation and how far innovation can take us.
Well, rest assured we didn’t incorporate planned obsolescence into YGC either. But let’s face it, most products don’t stand the test of time. Keep in mind, however, the ones that do are reinvented, or at least modified, to uphold the world’s changing needs – and to honor reliability. Like the Livermore lightbulb and the new Philips Hue bulbs I just bought, vExchange is an expansion, a reinvention of an already successful idea. Progress required reinvention.
Only forward-looking, scaling businesses continually improve technology and infrastructure and therefore frequently face challenging phases and events. Migrations are among the most stressful of these because they involve a confluence of player participation, expertise, and technology over extended periods of time. Migrations not only require the commitment of all company employees, but undoubtedly industry vendors, partners, and especially clients.
There’s been some frustration during the YGC to vExchange migration process. Some clients even reached out to me expressing the desire to “just have the old YGC data back.” People tend to have strong opinions and apprehension when they don’t fully understand the mission. Our decision to sunset YGC for a better way was a long-time coming. We knew it would not be an easy lift. We also knew that discontinuing YGC was the right thing to do because of our brand promise to have data with integrity.
Much of the YGC data did not have integrity; YGC was just a conduit, and often the data delivered was flawed. My mailman doesn’t care (or know) if the package contents he delivers to my house are wrong or even damaged by the Sender. Historically, Vertican placed the onus on our clients to provide accurate data and we were merely the mailman of that data. But Vertican recognizes that: 1. We have a greater responsibility to our clients and 2. Our industry cannot afford an “ignorance is bliss” mentality. So I stand by what I wrote last year that as the custodians of our clients’ data, Vertican is making a promise to not only deliver it securely, but to help ensure the data has integrity … every time.
If we built the vExchange concept with just the YGC data, our clients would simply never have the data with integrity they desired, which would defeat the purpose from the start. The migration to vExchange was challenging in some ways because this process required partnership on both sides of the table. That being said, this heavy lift could not happen without all hands on deck. I believe that our clients will be grateful for the enriched and accurate data sets available to them on vExchange – information and insights that were never available to them in YGC.
YGC and vExchange are unprecedented tools in managing the placement of accounts – but each are unprecedented relative to its generation.
Complacency is easy. Scaling is hard. Delivering mail is easy. Delivering on a promise consistently is hard … but worth it.
Some years ago, at an ACA conference, I had the opportunity to listen to a Navy Seal talk about complacency. He asked the audience if anyone knew what caused complacency. As the crowd quietly considered his question he shouted, “SUCCESS!” Success causes complacency. When you are successful in your endeavors you can begin to rest on your laurels. In some cases, so much so that progress passes you by. But you don’t have to. I decided right then and there that that was not going to happen to Vertican and our successful products.
So how is Vertican achieving data with integrity? 1. In 2020 and 2021, we invested more than 6.3 million dollars into our business, and 2. We are no longer permitting users to filter their data. We have constructed an entire system that’s explicit in process, compliance, and accountability. This mechanism, from loan servicing systems to charged-off data to vExchange to Collection-Master and Q-LawE (or attorney’s systems of record), reconciles during the course of each round trip. The system must reconcile not some of the time but EVERY time. Why? Because data with integrity is waiting on the other side.
Yes, the system is complex. Each cog is a microsystem in itself. But when all the components work every cog is more compliant and more profitable.
When you, your client, or Vertican looks at the data throughout the claim’s vExchange journey, from the charged-off system to Collection-Master/Q-LawE and all along the way, it should always be at the same balance. The same status. The claim must and will reconcile. We are committed to making this happen.
This paradigm shift means moving away from custom reporting and to having vExchange feed all the data all the time. BUT this also involves fixing data at the source so the ultimate system of record – as an entire mechanism – is successful and reliable.
Because we have all the data all the time, vExchange can show insights that no other system can. For example, vExchange offers data validation through its Gates, which provides exceptions, rejections, and cleansing, to ensure the integrity of your data is not compromised at any time.
In other words, Gates are rules that exclude or prevent any pollution of data not meeting the level of integrity required by the Sender. When clients send files using vExchange, the Gates programmatically evaluate that several conditions are met and then either:
reject the data and send a notification to the Sender, or
allow the data to pass, populating a report with the exceptions.
This is extremely important and bears repeating – fixing data at the source ensures a proper reconciliation and that the entire system works. With industry regulations continually changing, Gate rules enable Sender-driven compliance, helping to virtually eliminate human errors, increase efficiency, and ensure the important flow of accurate information into our financial system. No longer can Receivers send data that they modify, filter or alter even if those modifications satisfy requirements of the Senders. They must fix the underlying problem whether that be a process or a deficiency they would rather not disclose.
So there will not be any data travelling through vExchange capable of polluting the rest of the placement due to not being formatted properly, not being accurate, not being validated, or not being given an explanation as to why it was rejected.
No company or organization alone can make this happen in a vacuum. But together, as partners, we are changing the way our industry operates. Yes, it’s hard, costly, and sometimes frustrating for all parties. But the best outcomes in life come as a result of hard work. We are committed to delivering data with integrity – every time. We are not there yet. It comes down to investment and commitment in what matters most to you – and isn’t that worth it? We think so.
I remember the collections world before electronic data interchange (EDI) formats; it was much simpler. Law firms keyed in all their business by hand, sent status reports on paper, and reported to their clients over the phone. Then, seemingly overnight, every Sender had their own ideas about what to send and how to send it; they wanted data in different sizes, shapes, and formats. While one Sender wanted debt amounts to be called “X”, the other wanted them called “Y”. The ripple of demands from our legal collection case management users requesting custom programming, to keep clients happy or build new business, continued to gain tidal wave strength over the years. Eventually software developers created hundreds of disparate EDI formats.
Looking back to the early days of YGC, now knowing it was only the beginning, I am in awe of it all! YGC standardized how Senders and Receivers transmitted information to each other. What an amazing journey it has been. I recall talking with clients and industry counterparts about the importance of standardization. I witnessed the impact on Senders’ abilities to connect with hundreds of law firms and speak the same language; ultimately, helping law firms grow their business.
Since its inception and through the late 1990s, YGC became the largest national legal recoveries network of our time processing about one million claims. In the 2000s, that number grew and exceeded into the millions in placements. To date, Vertican has more than 750 servicers connected, and it exchanges billions of data nationwide.
During those past decades, two significant factors occurred: 1. other proprietary interfaces required end-users to maintain an influx of functionality; 2. system requirements changed, including the recent retirement of Internet Explorer.
Compliance data is absolutely mission-critical; and financial data and KPI reporting have evolved beyond even YGC’s brilliant architecture. As such, the YGC model had become unsustainable from a cost, maintenance, and management standpoint.
We had seen this coming and our teams began engineering the next-generation Sender-Receiver data exchange to responsively meet industry and regulatory demands. As a result, our clients can now continue to grow and reduce their costs to collect on a groundbreaking platform which will only scale into the future: vExchange.
Following Every Sunset Comes a Sunrise
In Summer 2022, we said goodbye to perhaps the most revolutionary application the collections industry has seen … and we eagerly turn the page to vExchange.
The YGC sunset process consisted of reaching out to EVERY YGC Sender to educate them on the vExchange platform. There’s little doubt that change, even positive change, is not always a popular choice. Change can feel disarming, uneasy, and apprehensive. But “garbage in and garbage out” is no longer a part of Vertican’s language. Furthermore, the “same old, same old” is simply not a responsible option to the monumental task of data exchange – especially in the legal collections industry.
As the migration process progressed, commitments from Senders to move from YGC to vExchange firmed up, however some Senders considered exploring other options (and we respect that) which include build their own data delivery services using Vertican’s very own YGC standard license.
The Vertican staff worked tirelessly to contact everyone during the process prior to and during YGC’s decommissioning. Our teams have worked closely with every Receiver on behalf of our committed Senders to guide their onboarding to vExchange. Thousands of emails, phone calls, Zoom sessions, implementation meetings, and more have taken place this year.
I wonder if anyone could have imagined that YGC’s impact would have truly transformed our clients’ businesses and lives the way that it has over the past four incredible decades.
And yet now after riding this wave alongside our clients, I don’t have wonder if the same holds true for vExchange. Like we were back in the day, we are now on the cusp of new, trailblazing innovations including artificial intelligence, data insights, and next-generation automation that will transcend our clients’ profitability for decades to come.
The future is here bringing new opportunities to regulate and standardize an everchanging industry for the better. The collections industry is integral to our nation’s economy and we have a great responsibility to do things the right way. What an exciting time to be in it together and this is only the (new) beginning.
Contributed by Nicholas Arcaro
A Message About Cybercrime
We hear the term “cybercrime” often enough, but it can mean different things to different people. As defined by Kaspersky, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, cybercrime is criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, a computer network, or a networked device. Most, but not all, cybercrime is committed by cybercriminals or hackers who want to make money and can be carried out by individuals or organizations. Cybercrimes can result in network intrusions that can cause lasting harm to your organization and its stakeholders. The bottom line is that cybercrime can jeopardize your company’s long-term reputation, security, and financial health.
Common types of cybercrimes include:
Business email compromise (BEC) scams, where an attacker targets a business to defraud the company, exploiting the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business. BEC scams have exposed organizations to billions of dollars in potential losses.
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information, such as your Social Security number, and uses it to commit theft or fraud.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that can prevent you from accessing your computer files, systems, or networks and demands you pay a ransom for their return.
Spoofing and phishing are schemes aimed at tricking people into providing sensitive information to criminals.
As companies have grown more dependent on technology to communicate and conduct business, cyberattacks have become a more commonplace occurrence. Cybercrime is so prevalent that in 2021 the U.S. government identified it a national security threat. Now, Vertican would like to share its experiences in this space to help our clients, partners, and industry counterparts mitigate this ongoing threat.
Like so many other companies, Vertican was the intended target of a sophisticated ransomware attack last year. Within hours of discovering the attempted attack, Vertican retained a leading cybersecurity and forensics firm to assist in responding to the threat, and later, to conduct a thorough incident investigation. The outcome of that investigation revealed that our response was effective – no client data was compromised – largely because of the processes and protocols Vertican had in place in advance.
How Did We Respond?
Security and data integrity are woven into our DNA at Vertican and because we had operational incident management policies and protocols already in place, Vertican’s response was successful. This included retaining a highly regarded incident response and forensics firm and beginning the restoration process within hours of the incident. When selecting a specialist provider, you should ensure they have the ability to leverage a combination of cutting-edge technologies to detect, validate, investigate, contain, and remediate threats with both speed and accuracy. Ideally, you should already know who you will use in case of a cyber threat or at a minimum have a short list of candidate firms who you would consider using in case of a cyber threat. Or better still it is most prudent to have a managed detection and response agreement that includes 24/7 monitoring. Figuring out what firm is best for you when under attack isn’t conducive to making the best decisions.
Where Are We Now?
Over the course of 2022, Vertican continued to invest in its cyber security and defense. Not surprisingly, we realize that defense measures begin with ensuring our team is fully educated and prepared to be Vertican’s first line of defense. This starts with requiring employees to sign a security policy and participate in follow-up training. The combination of both leads to greater cognitive and behavioral adherence to our codes of conduct.
In addition to our ongoing, customary security-related activities and policies, Vertican has also made investments to elevate our information security posture further, such as:
Renewing our long-term MDR (Managed Detection & Response) agreement with a leading cybersecurity firm who actively monitor over 160 endpoints 24/7/365 with preauthorization to act without first seeking Vertican permission
Retaining a seasoned vCISO (Virtual Chief Information Security Officer) with extensive financial services background and experience
Performing ongoing Security Vulnerability Assessments and deploying and an industry leading EDR (End-Point Detection and Response) solution across all end points
Vertican’s executive team is committed to leading by example and promoting best-practice cyber security behaviors across the firm. This includes addressing and talking about potential security incidents from regular department-level huddles to monthly companywide All Hands meetings. We believe this helps reduce the “it won’t happen to me” thinking seen time and again in cyber incident postmortems.
Finally, as industry leaders, having an understanding of information security challenges, regular employee training and testing, and effective policy enforcement are critical components to successful defense. We can achieve this by preserving a strong relationship with our information security teams and regularly keeping ourselves and our team informed about the latest security advances – we encourage everyone to do the same. Facing the constant challenges of keeping your company safe is an endless battle and goes hand-in-hand with educating your co-workers about both cyber safety and common sense approaches to detecting and reporting scams.
As we have learned, obtaining cyber-insurance can be more challenging than ever before. However, being able to produce a formalized set of minimum-security baselines, policies, and program documents makes that task easier, and may even secure lower premiums. We hope that by proactively sharing our cybersecurity strategies and practices, our clients and the industry at large can benefit from our experience, policies, and resource investments. Taking the right security measures and being alert and aware when connected are key ways to prevent cyber intrusions and online crimes.
Feel free to reach out to Stephen A. Greco, Chief Information Officer and Chief Operating Officer, at Stephen.Greco@vertican.com, for more information about Vertican’s cyber security measures and policies. Stay safe.
Events & Happenings
The Mastermind Series, an ongoing program of virtual training sessions presented by Vertican’s top developers and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), has been well underway! Are you missing out?
Topics are developed to help improve clients’ ability to use our platform features and tools effectively and maximize efficiency. So, take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to learn directly from industry trailblazers and Vertican’s visionary developers.
We’re continuing 2022 with the following Mastermind sessions:
October 19 | Reconciliation in Collection-Master – Learn More and Register
November 2 | What’s New with Collection-Master and PaymentVision – Learn More and Register
📢 Have you missed out on any of our recent Masterminds? Below are some suggestions.
Vertican Help Center: A Demonstration and Tour | Watch the video recording!
Vertican Support Access (VSA): An Introduction & Tour of the Application | Watch the video recording!
Find more information and past session recordings at the Vertican Mastermind page! Mastermind attendance is free but registration is required. The calendar is continuously updated so check back often!
Do you have a topic in mind for a future training session? We want to hear about it. Please send us an email with your suggestion.
The Latest Conference News
Isaac Goldman, CEO, Nicholas Arcaro, SVP of Sales, Kent McCammon, CFO and Head of Corporate Development, and Julia O’Day, Account Manager, will be attending the NCBA Fall Conference in October.
Will you be there? Follow this link to schedule one-on-one time with Nick or Julia.
Click here for more information on the conference and be on the lookout for an opportunity to schedule a time to meet with the team.
Julia O’Day, Account Manager, and Matthew Roiz, VP of Corporate Development and Strategy, recently attended the RMAi Washington, D.C. Regional Event. The annual event “combined advocacy, education, and baseball!”
A fantastic time connecting with industry friends and partners was had by all.
Quarterly Planning at Vertican
The Vertican Leadership team recently participated in its 2022 Q4 Planning, which was facilitated by Petra Coach. The team aligned on company and personal priorities and goals, and enjoyed some team building activities as well!
In the Spotlight!
Welcome to the section of the Newsletter where we share an inside look at some of Vertican’s amazing team members. This month, we’re learning more about Brittaney Vaughn and her love for sports, the New Orleans Saints, and of course, her children!
What is your title and when did you begin working at Vertican? I started with Vertican in November 2021 as a part of the Client Success team.
What sort of work did you do before joining Vertican? I worked for a software company specializing in medical billing and management. I’ve worked in many avenues of customer support/service ever since I started working as a teen. Customer support, service/hospitality industry, multi-family residential industry, retail, mom of two (lol).
What is a typical day at Vertican like for you? Team meetings, constant learning, researching, and putting my communication skills to use.
What do you like most about working for Vertican? No matter the level of expertise, everyone is easily accessible and willing to help when needed. It’s a very tight-knit group of people that have been a pleasure to work with and learn from.
If you could learn anything new, what would it be? I would love to learn to speak fluently in multiple other languages. I did take Spanish and Latin in high school, but never continued educating myself and would love to learn more.
What was your very first job and how old were you? Bowling alley birthday party hostess, and I was 15. I did eventually work in many other positions, as needed, at that bowling alley over the 4 years I was employed.
Word on the street is you are a HUGE New Orleans Saints fan? Tell us about it and how that began.
Born and raised not far from New Orleans, I have always been and will always be a part of the Who Dat Nation! Even when we were the “Aints”. My dad has always been a Steelers fan, but we always shared watching football, and most sports, together growing up.
What is something about you that may surprise your colleagues? I’ve always been an athlete. Basketball, softball, volleyball, flag football, bowling. I started bowling at the age of 9 and bowled for 15+ years. I was good enough to get the opportunity to participate in multiple national tournaments across the country. I have considered picking up the sport again, just have to find the time.
What (else) do you like to do outside of work? I love spending time with my family and friends as much as I can. I bartend on weekends and truly enjoy it. I love fishing and crabbing, playing games with family, attending sporting events, going to festivals (in Louisiana there is a festival in a different town every weekend of the year), and anything involving live music, especially music festivals!
Share something exciting you did in the last 12 months. I started a small private bartending company, where I organize, set up, and work events like weddings, birthday parties, corporate events, etc.
Do you have a favorite movie, artist and/or book?
Movie: I don’t have a favorite because I enjoy so many different genres, just nothing Horror/Thriller!
TV: Greys Anatomy, Game of Thrones, and reality TV is my guilty pleasure
Please share a favorite quote. “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
Vertican Help Center
The Vertican Help Center, located on vPortal, provides an extensive amount of resources for our clients to access at any time. But we want to hear from you, so we’ve extended our Vertican Help Center Survey deadline a little later.
Plus in addition to vTrivia, you have even more chances to win big by taking our brief survey! Even if you have not yet used the Help Center, we want to know why. Complete the survey by October 21, 5 p.m. (ET), and three prize winners will be randomly selected from all respondents who complete the survey! Good luck and thank you for your feedback!
Winners will have their choice of a Fitbit Activity Tracker, LEVOIT Ozone-Free Air Purifier, or a Google Nest Smart Thermostat.
Claim Summary Screen [F11] – a Handy Reference Screen
Collection-Master’s Claim Summary Screen is an easy-to-access, easy-to-read summary of a claim. The Claim Summary Screen pulls and synthesizes information from multiple locations, including the Paperless File, the Account Card, the Legal Screen, the Debtor Screen, the Diary Screen and more. Avoid jumping into multiple screens and review data in one place.
This is a read-only screen so no changes or entries can be made.
Sensitive data is kept private by masking field values such as SSN and DOB.
The Claim Summary Screen can be printed, faxed or emailed.
4 Ways to Access the Claim Summary Screen
1. From any screen within a claim, click [F11] or [Shift+F1]. The screen shows information on Claim Status, Legal Status, Debtor 1, Debtor 2, Debtor 3, Invoice File, and Report File.
Click on image to view larger version.
2. From within a claim, click the [Summary] button at the bottom of the screen.
3. From any screen where Paperless Notes are displayed, select Summary Screen [Shift+F1] from the drop-down Action menu.
Click on image to view larger version.
4. From the Collector’s Call Screen, click the clipboard icon at the top of the screen.
Click on image to view larger version.
Customize the Claim Summary Screen
Although the screen is designed for review purposes, it is a template, which means the format can be modified by the user. Modifications can be made with any HTML editing program. There are over one dozen fields that can be modified to appear in the desired layout by changing the CLAIM.HTM file in the F:CLSINCSUMMARY directory. Always backup the file before modifying it. If an error is made, return to the original CLAIM.HTM file.
Some SQL fields are available, as well as some special formula fields, which are designated by an asterisk (“*”) in the name.
Delete Cases Entered in Error
If you have mistakenly imported new claims, you can easily delete a bulk amount using the [Delete Cases Entered In Error] button on the Maintenance menu. This allows you to delete either a single case by entering the Ourfile number in the ‘Starting ourfile #’ field or a sequential range by entering the beginning Ourfile number in the ‘Starting ourfile #’ field and the ending Ourfile number in the ‘Ending ourfile #’ field.
Q-Law Fox best practice is to Remove Phantom Records after deleting several files. This process is located in the Maintenance menu on the Fixes tab and is not required in Q-LawE.
Adding a Field Name to the vMedia Database
To add a field to the vMedia database, you must be a vMedia Administrator user with access to DB Config. You can use the options highlighted below to add a new field that you can label as you wish.
1 – Select DB Config from the menu.
3 – In the Index Field Editor dialog box, click the [Add New Field] button. (Note: If you are running vMedia Production release 2.9.1, this dialog box is called vMedia Configuration Editor rather than Index Field Editor.)
Click on image to view larger version.
4 – Replace the default Field Name with your desired field name (e.g. TOWN). Next, select a Default Value for the field. In the example below, SPACE(20) means the new field can accommodate up to 20 characters.
Click on image to view larger version.
5 – To see other Default Value options for a new field, go to the vMedia Help Manual > Setup > Database Configuration > Adding, Modifying and Deleting Indexed Fields. Look in the section called “Common Field Value Expressions.”
August / September 2022 Winners
Congratulations to the winners!
Amanda Boyles – Snow & Sauerteig LLP
Joshua Walker – Niederman, Stanzel, and Lindsey
Earnestine Taylor – Mendelson Law Firm
They were randomly selected for having answered the following questions correctly:
1. Who was the first African American man to achieve EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner) status? John Legend
2. What date in August marks the end of the Dog Days of Summer? August 11
3. On August 21, 1911, which famous painting was stolen from the wall of the Louvre in Paris? The Mona Lisa
4. Elvis Presley passed away in August of 1977. Who directed the 2022 biographical film on his life? Baz Luhrmann
Winners had the choice of one of these prizes:
Congratulations again to our three winners!
October / November 2022 Contest
Can you answer this month’s quiz?
Three winners will be chosen at random from everyone answering all four vTrivia questions correctly. Complete the answer form below and good luck! Contest ends December 1, 2022, at 5 p.m. (ET)
October / November vTrivia Prizes Up for Grabs