If you are being chased by creditors, it is only natural to wonder what they can and cannot do to get their money from you. One of the most common questions that debtors ask is if debt collectors can come to your work? There are lots of things that debt collectors are not legally allowed to do, so where do they stand on visiting you at your workplace?
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsmen have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Can Debt Collectors Come to Your Work?
You’ll be pleased to hear that debt collectors cannot legally come to your place of work to request money. The reason this is illegal is because it increases the chance of them divulging that you are in debt to third parties – and this is not allowed. Debt collectors cannot discuss your debts with anyone other than you, including your family or an employer.
If a debt collector chooses to come to your workplace, you should report them to the FCA and Financial Ombudsman.
Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work?
But can debt collectors call you while you are at work to discuss the debt and any repayments? The answer to this is a little more complex. Debt collectors can call you on your mobile to discuss the debt, and if you happen to be at work when they call, this is not an offence. After all, they genuinely might not know you are at work.
Moreover, debt collectors can call you at work as long as they do not reveal the reason they are calling. That means they cannot tell a fellow colleague or maybe even a boss that they are calling to discuss your debt. If they did divulge that information, they would be breaking the same confidentiality rule that stops them visiting you at work in person.
It would be pretty unlikely for the debt collector to call your workplace and not be asked why they are calling by a colleague. Thus, they should not really be calling you at work.
How to Stop Debt Collectors Calling (at Work)?
If you don’t want debt collectors calling you at work, you are allowed to provide them with your preferences regarding when you would like to be contacted if needed. You can ask them to call you outside working hours as an easy way to ensure debt collectors won’t call at work.
You should also know that debt collectors are not allowed to make repeated calls. This would be a form of harassment and can be punished by the appropriate authorities.
Can Debt Collectors Call at Any Time?
Thankfully no – debt collectors can only make calls in line with your preferences and at certain hours of the day. Debt collection phone calls are not permitted before 8am in the morning and after 9pm at night, unless you have given them permission to do so.
What to Do If a Debt Collector Is Harassing You
If you are being harassed at your place of work or over the phone by a debt collector, there is a three-step process to deal with it.
The first step is to collect as much evidence as possible that your debt collector is harassing you. There are many ways to collect evidence, including but not limited to:
- Call logs
- Statements from colleagues or your boss
- Your communications asking them to stop
Once you have collated enough evidence, you can send it to the debt collector and tell them they are breaking the law by harassing you. Within this letter it is best to outline future preferences for communication (such as the time they can call you). The debt collector or creditor must respond to your letter in three business days and they must let the FCA know about your complaint.
What If Debt Collectors Still Harass You?
If the case is not resolved, the final step is to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. They will look into the matter further and could penalise your debt collector. You might want to complain to any other trade bodies the group is monitored by, as well as the FCA who cannot investigate the complaint but can refuse to give the debt collector the authority to operate.
The Difference Between Debt Agencies and Enforcement Agents
The debt collection industry is unfortunately not short of debt collection groups trying to use scare tactics and harassment to get their money. One way to understand your rights better is to understand the difference between a debt collection agency and a law enforcement officer.
A debt collection group is a company that have bought your debt from someone else (or are chasing the debt for someone else) and try to get it back directly before going to the courts (if they can). A debt collection agency has no legal powers to collect debt through visiting you or taking possessions – no more than your electric company, internet provider or local pet shop.
Debt collection agencies then cannot come to your home, come to your place of work or act like they can remove your possessions.
The only people who can come into your home and request payment on your doorstep is a law enforcement officer. These are people who are employed after the debt has gone to court. You will know if your debt has gone to court because you will be invited to attend and give your side of the events.
Know Your Rights When Dealing with Debt Collectors
It is important that you know your rights when dealing with debt collection agencies and law enforcement officers. They must not harass you, apply pressure or make false claims. Unfortunately, these sorts of things happen more than you would think, leaving debtors vulnerable and scared.
But remember, even if the debt collectors act inappropriately, that doesn’t remove the liability for you to pay any debt you owe. For further help at managing your creditors or getting out of debt, take a look at the free guidance on Money Nerd – or speak with the UK’s fantastic debt charities.