Father‐son team leading financial services companies Bad‐check collection entrepreneurs switch to credit card debt BY LYNN LOFTON The Oxford Enterprise Contributing Writer A father‐and‐son team is leading an Oxford‐based financial services firm to outstanding growth. William Alias, Jr., and William Alias, III, are at the helm of Security Credit Services and Security Card Services. It all began in 1995 when the younger Alias was a student at Ole Miss and started collecting bad checks for local businesses. That company, Security Check, became the fourth‐largest check collection company in the country and was sold last year. It was listed by Inc 500 as one of the fastest growing privately‐owned companies in the U.S. for two consecutive years. And it, in turn, helped finance the growth of Security Credit Services and Security Card Services. Now the duo is working to make these two companies the fourth – or possibly the third – largest businesses of their kind in the United States. “That’s our vision, and we see it in the future,” Alias, Jr. says. “We plan to keep everybody’s attitude right and treat everyone with respect. We love what we do.” He serves as chairman of the company, joining his son after running a successful Atlanta‐based mail order company and building and managing hotel properties in Georgia and Florida. A native of Clarksdale, he lived in Atlanta 25 years before moving to Oxford. “William was always good at business,” he says of his son, “and I was not surprised when he started Security Check while still a student.” For Alias, III, his dad is a mentor in addition to being a business partner. “The main thing I believe I was taught at a very early age was a work ethic,” he says. “I started the first business because I wanted to work for myself and wanted to stay in Oxford.” He encountered a lot of skepticism in the early days of the business, mostly from friends who couldn’t understand what he was doing. “I also found that a lot of people would help me because I was young,” he says. “The best time to start a business is when you’re young. If you fail, you still have your entire life in front of you. Also, it costs so little to live when you’re young. It makes the first couple of years easier to survive.” At age 37, he has accomplished quite a bit, but wants to keep building businesses. He and his dad, age 67, agree on that. The growth of Security Check occurred in only 13 years and included bad‐check collections for such large companies as Domino’s Pizza, Fred’s Dollar Stores and Hancock Fabrics. It was sold in 2008 to a private equity firm in Ohio, but not before fostering the two other financial services businesses in 2003. The companies have offices in Oxford and Atlanta with 80 employees and hundreds of others working with them. Security Card sells credit card services through commercial banks in 15 states with exclusive agreements with 80 banks to service their credit card customers. Security Credit purchases delinquent receivables and manages the portfolios on behalf of its clients, outsourcing 80 percent of collections to agencies who specialize in different types of debt. “Security Credit is expanding extremely rapidly,” Alias, Jr. says. “We buy charged‐off credit card debt from companies to try to collect it. We try to help consumers clean up their credit.” He stresses that Security Credit collects with dignity, approaching the business like a service company, so the customer will not only pay the debt – or some portion of it – but will feel they’ve been treated fairly and would like to continue to shop with the merchant or bank. Those ideals are written as the goal of the company. “Attitude is 90 percent of it,” Alias, Jr. says. “This business has picked up tremendously. It’s obviously the economic times, and we don’t see the economy getting better for a long time.” Chairman Alias explains why respect is a key component of debt collection. “People who have delinquent receivables cover the complete spectrum of our population, from someone’s grandmother who made a mistake, is extremely embarrassed and wants to find out how she can make restitution, to a person who intentionally defrauded the merchant and has no intention of ever making the delinquency good,” he says.