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SAN ANGELO, Texas — In preparation for its 74th annual training conference and seminar this week in San Diego, the president of the Allied Finance Adjusters Conference reiterated points that have been echoed by recovery agents from throughout the country.

George Badeen issued a message to the conference's membership and anyone involved with repossessing vehicles about the importance of clearing misconceptions about the ethics and performance of the industry. Badeen used the phrase "cleaning up" when describing how recovery agents can improve the business environment for themselves.

"One particular area that I feel needs to be addressed is the growing misperception of the unprofessional behavior of our industry," noted Badeen, who also is president and owner of Midwest Recovery & Adjustment, a division of Midwest Auto Auction located in Redford, Mich.

"It is with this in mind that I want to challenge each of you individually and collectively to assist me in the coming year in 'cleaning up' this disreputable perception and to educate the lenders of this nation that the lowest priced repossession is not the one that is always the best, nor responsible, and in many cases, even legal," he continued.

Badeen made his position known in light of TV shows that he believes paints a picture of recovery agents in a negative, untrue way.

"To be more specific, over the past few years I have become increasingly disturbed by television programs which display repossessors as a group of 'clown rejects' who routinely perform questionable, idiotic and down-right illegal 'circus tricks,' while conducting what appears to be 'real life recoveries,'" Badeen insisted.

"All are preformed on national TV and all in the name of pseudo-reality TV ratings," he went on to say. "Like all of you, I work hard and am insulted by this manufactured 'Hollywood' stereotype of my industry that makes a joke of the recovery of collateral from my neighbors in my community who have fallen on hard times.

"These programs and the resulting news articles which perpetuate this alarming image of our craft have fostered a false impression that is damaging to all of us. This misconception of who we are and how we conduct our business in the conscience of the public must change," Badeen stressed.

Badeen also pointed out how misconceptions and poor business practices not only hurt recovery agents, but also their clients and other financial institutions.

"Unfortunately, the 'discount mart' tactics of the forwarders and their banking clients bare a large portion of the responsibility for this misshapen image by driving the true, licensed, trained and certified professionals — like ourselves — out of the market," Badeen stated.

"I am pleased to report that this situation is changing. Lenders are learning the hard way that the forwarders and their 'cut rate' contractors are causing them more grief than profit and they are returning to the pros like us in increasing numbers," he continued.

That messaging is part of the reason why Allied Finance Adjusters prepared a training event this week in San Diego to curtail those misconceptions and prepare recovery agents to work in the field properly.

Among some of the scheduled speakers for the event that begins on Wednesday are:

—Tom Shpall, attorney and partner of Rosenburg, Shpall & Associates of San Diego who specializes in the areas of business litigation and bankruptcy representing creditors, debtors, landlords and tenants as well as a variety of small-business owners in business disputes and employment issues. Shpall is set to give an update on the newest developments in bankruptcy law.

—Officer Marcia Gomez of U.S. Customs & Boarder Protections. Gomez is scheduled to give background about the forfeiture of vehicles to the U.S. government and the methods and procedures that can be followed by licensed recovery agencies to acquire them for their lending clients.

Furthermore, Michele Stuart, president of JAG Investigation located in Arizona, and Alex Price, national sales and training manager at MasterFiles of Dallas, plan to discuss the latest productive methods in skip-tracing and other ways to enhance collections.

Badeen remained upbeat about the possibilities for recovery agents in 2010 and beyond.

"At last year's conference, I remarked how much our membership grew by leaps and bounds. This past year we have continued this growth and I have run out of adjectives to describe it," Badeen noted.

"When I have asked myself the question as to why we are growing at such a phenomenal rate, I am left with the simple answer that everyone wants to belong to the winning team of professionals," he continued.

"As the year progresses, I know that this association of the professionals of our industry, armed with our collective will, can realign these negative perceptions and change the way business in this industry is conducted," Badeen added.

"My challenge to you all stands firm, and I have the utmost confidence that each of you will accept it in the spirit it is put forth and lead our industry forward," he concluded.