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Tackling your debts

What rights do debt collectors have?

Posted 07 March 2013 by Shelley Bowers

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Debt collectors might try and recover a debt when you miss payments, but what are their rights?

Dealing with debt collectors can be intimidating, especially if you are receiving lots of phone calls and letters.

 

Debt collectors do have the right to ask you to pay back the money you owe, but they have to do it in a certain way. When you're dealing with them, you have rights too.

 

Knowing your rights can help you feel more confident and less intimidated by the phone calls and letters.

 

Debt collectors do not have the same rights as bailiffs - they cannot seize your possessions. They also cannot harass you at work, and they cannot pressure you into taking on more debt to repay them.

Debt collectors have to stick to these rules:

According to the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) guidelines, debt collectors should:

  • Contact you only at reasonable times.
  • Use language that you can understand.
  • Let you know in advance when they will visit.
  • Only enter your home if you invite them in.
  • Leave your property during a visit if you ask them to.
  • Explain who they are, why they are contacting you, and the process they can legally take to recover the money owed.
  • Tell you how much you owe.
  • Provide you with more information about your debt if you ask for it, like what the original agreement was.

Debt collectors cannot

  • Contact you if you have asked someone else to represent you. If you ask Debt Advisory Centre to represent you, we could take over all creditor contact, including with debt collectors.
  • Visit you at work unless you've told them they can.
  • Harass you with frequent phone calls or threatening language or behaviour.
  • Contact you by post without clearly explaining who they are and why they are contacting you.
  • Pressure you into repaying debt that you cannot afford - by selling your home, releasing equity, or taking out another loan.
  • Pressure you into making larger instalments than you can afford.
  • Pressure you into paying more than you agreed you would repay if you're in a repayment plan.
  • Add collection charges unless you agreed this with your original lender - and the charge can only be as much as the cost of collection actually was.
  • Threaten to pass on information about your debt to other people, unless they are permitted by law.
  • Threaten to take legal action when they know they're not allowed to.
  • Pretend to be bailiffs, who have more rights when recovering debts.
  • Seize your possessions.

Contact Debt Advisory Centre for professional help dealing with debt collectors.

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.