Find out what constitutes unacceptable behaviour when it comes to debt collection and how you can combat it.
Debt Harassment - Know Your Rights
When debt collectors are calling persistently or bailiffs are knocking on your door, it’s important to know your rights. Bailiffs and debt collectors are bound by strict regulations on acceptable conduct, and they must abide by this at all times. If you feel at any time that you are a victim of either bailiff or collection agency debt harassment, you must report them as soon as possible. Read more about your rights below.
Where Can Debt Harassment Come From?
Harassment for debt payment can come from creditors, collection agencies or bailiffs. It’s important that you know your rights, what each can and can’t do and what constitutes harassment.
Harassment from Creditors
Your creditors are the people that you originally owe the money to. They will contact you in the first instance when you miss one or more payments. There are several ways in which your creditors can reasonably contact you.
It is acceptable for creditors to:
- Send reminders and final demands for payment
- Call you on the telephone and ask for payment
- Call at your home address (this must be at a reasonable time of day)
- Take court action against you
It is unacceptable for creditors to:
- Contact you several times a day or at unreasonable hours
- Pursue you via social media
- Pressure you to sell your home or get more credit to pay them
- Use multiple debt collectors.
- Not tell you that your debt has been passed on to a collection agency
- Threaten you physically or verbally or embarrass you in public
- Use paperwork that appears official like court documents
- Contact family members or friends
- Give the impression that your home can be sold without a court order or that court action is being taken when it isn’t
- Tell you that not paying is a criminal offence
Collection Agency Harassment
A debt collection agency has no legal authority and cannot pursue you any more than your creditors can. If they are acting in any of the unacceptable ways listed above, they must be reported to the agency they work for and seek advice from the citizens’ advice consumer helpline. It’s important to remember that a debt-collection agency cannot enter your home unless invited, they cannot seize your assets and they cannot tell you that court action is underway if it is not.
Bailiff harassment can be particularly worrying for a lot of people because there is often confusion surrounding what they can and can’t do. A bailiff cannot enter your home without your permission. If they threaten to do so, then this is classed as harassment. If you feel that you are being harassed for debt by a bailiff and they are displaying any of the unacceptable behaviours listed above, contact the agency that they work for and make a formal complaint.
A bailiff does have more legal powers than a debt collector. They can seize assets to cover the cost of your debt. If you refuse entry to your home, they can take items from outside your house, such as your car.
What Can I Do If I’m Being Harassed?
If you feel that you have been a victim of debt harassment, you have several options. In the first instance, you should submit a formal complaint to both your creditor and the agency that the debt collector or bailiff works for. You can also seek advice from the citizens’ advice consumer helpline.
You can report creditors and collection agencies directly to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA has the power to:
- Withdraw the company’s authorisation
- Ban a person from working in financial services
- Suspend a firm for up to 12 months
- Publicise the wrongdoing of the company
- Fine the company
Making a complaint, whether successful or not, will not write-off your debt. However, it may give you more time to pay the creditor what you owe.
What Are My Options for Managing My Debt?
If you’re struggling with debt and want to stop debt harassment in its tracks, contact Debt Movement today to speak to one of our friendly and helpful team members. They can put your mind at ease by going through the debt solutions available to you and get you on the road to financial recovery. Request a free call-back today.