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Debt collection rights for consumers

16th October 2018 Print

If you’re in debt and you’re being chased by creditors, then it’s important that you know your rights. 

Contact from Creditors 

If you owe a debt, then a creditor is entitled to contact you regarding payment. This can either be by phone, letter or a home visit

Your creditors will usually start with reminders by phone or writing, informing you that you have missed a payment and that you need to keep your account up-to-date. 

If you believe that you will struggle to make further payments, then you should seek advice. Alternatively, if you believe that the debt is short term due to a change in circumstances or an unforeseen bill, then you can consider alternate payment methods as a one off. This would allow you to keep your account open and make payments as normal. 

If you miss several consecutive payments, then you may find that the tone of these letters becomes firmer, and you may be threatened with further action. If you have an account regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, then you may receive a default notice, with your account defaulting shortly after. Your creditor may then also pass your account to a debt collection agency. 

At this point, some creditors may also take your debt to court or apply for a county court judgement

If making ends meet on a month to month basis is often a recurring issue, a consolidation loan could be a longer term solution. 

Am I Being Harassed by a Creditor? 

Although creditors are allowed to contact you, there are certain guidelines they must adhere to. A creditor cannot harass you for the money that you owe (harassment is an action that makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened). Harassment could include: 

- Pursuing you on social networking sites 

- Contacting you multiple times per day, or late at night/early morning 

- Putting pressure on you to take out more credit or sell your home 

- Using paperwork or business logos that appear to be official when they’re not

- Making verbal or physical threats 

It does not qualify as harassment if: 

- The creditor is demanding payment

- They are telephoning you to ask for payment

- They are making a visit to your home in reasonable hours

- They begin taking court action against you. 

If a creditor is harassing you, then it’s important to know who is asking for the payment. A creditor may pass on the debt, but they must inform you of this in writing, and they can then no longer chase you for money. 

Making a Complaint 

If you believe that you’re being harassed or that your creditor is behaving improperly, then you should collect evidence and make a complaint. You should complain to the creditor in the first instance by writing to them. If this does not adequately resolve your complaint, then you should raise your compliant with the Financial Ombudsmen Service, or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau