No one enjoys receiving a letter or phone call from a debt collector. However, we promise that with more understanding of who debt collectors are and what they do, they are a lot less daunting to deal with.
At NDH Financial, our team are on hand to ensure you have all the information you need when dealing with debt collectors. Here is everything you need to know.
What is a debt collector?
Debt collectors are individuals or companies that collect debts owed to creditors. They are usually instructed to chase funds when a debt payment is overdue.
Debt collectors can be collection agencies or lawyers. It is their responsibility to recover the debt owed to creditors. Debt collectors should be highly regulated so the public is protected from any threatening behaviour from debt collectors or debt collection agencies.
Looking for help with a particular debt collector?
You can find out more about specific debt collectors on our dedicated information pages:
Why might a debt collector contact you?
In a nutshell, the debt collector will contact you after you have failed to make a series of payments to your creditors. They may opt to contact you via a phone call or house visit.
If they contact you over the phone, they will often attempt to take payment from you there and then. It is imperative that you make sure that the person contacting you is from a legitimate debt collection agency before transferring any money.
If you are unable to make the payment, let the agent know and request they talk you through the different types of payment options that are available.
During the call, you can expect them to ask for the reason behind your missed payments and details on your current financial status and living costs. This will allow them to determine the amount they can ask you to make per month.
While on the phone, depending on how the conversation goes and how severe the situation is, they may advise you that they will take things further if payment is not made. Do not worry, they cannot force you to pay at this point.
Get in touch with NDH Financial
If you are worried for any reason, please contact one of our debt experts today and we will run through the different types of debt solutions that could help you. If you have already spoken to us or another financial expert to help you towards making your repayments, let the creditor know while you are on the phone.
What should you do if a debt collector visits your house?
While the most common form of contact from a debt collector will be a phone call or letter, there are some instances where they might decide to visit your home.
In this case, it is vital to remember two things:
- You do not need to let them in. You are within your rights to refuse them entry.
- Unlike bailiffs, they have no right to take goods away from you.
Debt collectors hold no legal power and, in most cases, will agree to allow you to make the payments back using a payment plan.
Calculate how much you can afford to pay
To work out how much you can afford to pay back, look at your incomings and outgoings. Calculate how much disposable income you are left with at the end of each month. This will give you an indication of how much you can pay back while also ensuring your essential needs (food and household bills) are met.
What is the difference between a debt collector and a bailiff?
While both debt collectors and bailiffs are charged with making sure you repay your debts, they are very different entities. The main difference to note is that debt collectors hold no legal powers, unlike bailiffs.
Other differences include:
- Bailiffs only contact you as a result of a court action through either a magistrates court or a county court depending on the levels of debt. The only time this would not be the case is when HM Revenue and Customs is looking to retrieve the money. In this instance, a bailiff can be instructed without needing court authorisation.
- Bailiffs are instructed to collect payment in relation to county court judgments (CCJ), council tax arrears, parking fines and child maintenance arrears.
- Bailiffs have the legal right to remove items from your property and sell said items to pay off your debts. This is not the case with debt collectors.
- Debt collectors work as debt collection agencies or as part of an internal collections team.
- Debt collectors are mainly used to collect commercial debts such as loans, credit card debt, overdrafts and utility arrears.
If you are worried about dealing with debt collectors or bailiffs, book a free consultation with our debt consultants who will be able to go through your rights and help you start your journey to becoming debt-free.
What powers do debt collection agencies have?
Debt collectors do not have as much power as you imagine.
As well as making a phone call or paying a visit to your home, debt collectors are able to do the following:
- Discreetly discuss your situation with you and devise a payment plan that works
- Request you to make the payments to your creditors
Debt collectors do not have the power to:
- Appear at your workplace
- Threaten you
- Intimidate you
- Enter your home by force
- Refuse to leave your property after you have requested them to
- Discuss your financial situation with a bailiff or enforcement agent
- Take your belongings
- Impersonate a bailiff
What to do if a debt collector contacts you
If a debt collector contacts you, the first thing to do is verify that they are a legitimate company. In some cases, they may decide to contact you via phone first. Here, it is essential that you do not provide them with any details straight away.
Instead, ask them questions so you have all the information you need to confirm their identity, including:
- The debt collector’s details - name, address, etc.
- The debt they are calling about, including the amount and if there are any additional costs, such as interest rates or collection fees
- The reason for the debt
- When the debt was created
- The name of the original creditor
- Whether the debt is in your name or for someone else
It is worth noting that you generally have 30 days to write back to the collectors following their initial contact with you.
After you have made all the verified checks, you can proceed to discuss how you intend to repay your debt with them.
You will also have to confirm the reasons behind the missed payments. They may ask for information regarding your current income, so it is best to have as much information to hand as possible during this call.
Get in touch
If you are not satisfied with the call and are looking for a debt solution, such as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, contact us today and see how we can jumpstart your journey to becoming debt-free.
What should I not say to debt collectors?
While it is always good to be honest with debt collectors, there are certain things you may not want to disclose.
Do not volunteer unnecessary information
If they ask you a question, answer honestly but do not overly explain where it is not required.
Do not give them access to your bank account
Some debt collectors may request access to your bank account. Remember they do not have the legal power, and you can deny them this.
Do not add fuel to the fire
Be aware of telling your debt collector information that includes unnecessary spending. This includes travel plans and nights out. Instead, make them aware that you understand the situation and are managing your finances responsibly to best resolve the debt.
Do not make a payment in good faith
Some debt collectors or creditors might ask you to make minimum payments. This is a voluntary payment designed to catch you out. The statute of limitations (the amount of time in which debt collectors have to contact you about the debt) begins from the time you made the last payment; therefore, this payment will update the limitations period.
What do you do if you can't afford to pay the debt?
This is where we can help.
If you are struggling to make ends meet and make your payments, our experts are able to offer a free consultation. There are different debt solutions out there that will help you get back on your feet. Here at NDH Financial, we specialise in Individual Voluntary Arrangements to help you deal with debt collectors.
Get in touch with NDH Financial today for a free consultation about your debts.
Call us on 0800 002 9051 or apply below.
Can you negotiate with debt collectors?
In practice, yes you can negotiate your repayment plan with debt collectors. Before doing so, it is important to understand your rights.
Before making any negotiations, make sure you have the following in mind:
- Debt collectors are only to call you during the hours of 8 am to 9 pm.
- They cannot use blasphemous language in their correspondence with you. This includes swearing and threatening language.
- They are only able to contact your place of employment, family members or friends to gain your contact information. They are not allowed to divulge any other information such as why they are looking for you and the debt in question.
What do you do if a debt collector has violated your rights?
If a debt collector has violated your rights - for example, they have pursued you on social networking sites or put pressure on you to sell your home or take out more credit - you are within your rights to take action against them.
Gather your evidence
If you decide to take action against them, you need to make sure you have evidence on hand to back up your complaint. This can be any form of written correspondence, such as letters or emails, as well as phone recordings and voice notes. If you have witnesses, make sure they are on hand to corroborate your claims.
Once the evidence has been gathered, you can send a copy of it to the debt collector and ask them to stop their actions. Point out if they are in violation of the Financial Conduct Authority guidelines and ask them to reply in writing so you have a copy on hand.
If this does not work, you can complain to a professional body. If the creditors are banks or credit card companies, there is a chance they belong to the Leading Standards Board. If they are, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Conduct Authority.
Can your debt be sold?
If you are in arrears with your debts, your creditor might sell your debt to a debt purchaser. In line with the Consumer Credit Act, if you fail to make your payments, the debt can be sold on or dealt with by another company. This is legal and part of the debt collection process.
Creditors are experts in lending and collecting money. Anything else related to debt, such as chasing debts, is generally outside of their jurisdiction. This is why they employ debt collectors or sell the debt to debt purchasers who are able to chase payment.
If your debts have been sold to debt purchasers, you will then have to report, as well as make your outstanding repayments, to them rather than the creditors. The rules and power of the debt purchasing company are the same as the creditors.
How will you know if your debt has been sold?
Your creditor should inform you if they are planning to sell your debt. Once the debt has officially been sold, the debt purchaser will send you a letter explaining the plan moving forward. The letter should include the name of the previous creditor, as well as the account details, so you know which debt it is related to. If you are unsure, call the number of the debt purchaser.
In most cases, the letter is followed up with a phone call. Here you have to make sure they are aware of your situation. Outline to them exactly what you can afford and do not offer to make payments you will be unable to make.
Get in touch with us today
If you are worried about the repayment plans outlined for you by the debt purchasers or dealing with debt collectors, speak to an expert at NDH Financial today and free yourself from the shackles of debt.
Get in touch with NDH Financial today
Apply for a free consultation with one of our experts about your debts.
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