Can debt collectors see your bank account balance UK? This is a question that frantically gets typed into Google each day by someone new in debt. The answer is no (kind of!) – but the story doesn’t end there.
For more information on debt collectors and your private information, read on!
First, the Process of Debt Collection
To answer our main question accurately, you first need to understand the orthodox way that debt collectors go about their work. The debt collector may work on behalf of a creditor (such as a loan provider) or they may own the debt themselves. In either situation, they first send you a letter asking you to pay.
These letters are often threatening, and you can request proof that you owe the debt before paying.
Without them providing it, you don’t have to pay.
If you fail to pay the debt or refuse to pay, the debt collector can then go to court to get a CCJ that forces you to pay. At this stage, there is not much you can do but agree to make some type of repayments that will eventually clear the debt.
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But, What If You Still Don’t Pay?
If you don’t keep to the payments that were requested by the courts – through the CCJ – or you continue to refuse to pay, the debt collector or your creditor can use a bailiff to come to your home and request payment.
The bailiff, sometimes called a law enforcement officer because they are enforcing the instruction of the court, can repossess your belongings if you can’t pay. These items will then be auctioned to pay off the debt.
Why are we telling you this?
Well, the debt collector or creditor will have to pay the bailiff for their services. And because they don’t want to pay for their services without the possibility of getting the money back (or your items), they often apply for an Order to Obtain Information first, especially if the debt is quite large.
It is a way of covering their investment in the bailiff’s services. They don’t want to spend money trying to get the debt paid when there no chance of actually getting any money from you.
What Is an Order to Obtain?
An Order to Obtain is when the debt collector makes you go back to court and face a judge. You will have to provide documents and information to the judge to show your circumstances, i.e. why it is called an order to obtain information.
All this is completed under an oath of truth. Within the hearing, the debt collector may request that the judge is provided with evidence of your financial circumstances.
In a way, a debt collector can use the process to find out how much money you have. But can debt collectors see your bank account UK? Not really because they don’t actually have access to your bank account.
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What Happens If I Don’t Attend Court?
Some debtors may think they can get around the whole situation by not going to court. After all, if you don’t attend the Order to Obtain then you won’t be providing information to the judge. And your debt collector will be none the wiser about your finances or other personal circumstances.
But that would be a really bad idea!
In some cases, if you fail to attend the hearing for the Order to Obtain, you can be sent to prison. The prisons sentence would usually be short, around 14 days, but nobody should want to go through this as the courts would also get what they wanted anyway – your information.
What If You Can’t Attend?
If you are unable to attend the court hearing for a legitimate reason, you don’t have to face the possibility of prison.
You can ask the creditor or the debt collector to have the court date changed themselves. Most respectable companies will do this for you to ensure they get the information they need.
If the debt collector is refusing to cooperate and change the court date or time, you are able to make a request directly to the courts to get it changed. To do this, you need to fill out a form on the GOV.UK website called form N244.
How to Prepare for an Order to Obtain
You can use the Order to Obtain to show your genuine inability to pay the debt. To do this, you must come prepared. It is best to bring details of your income, expenditure, financial support you receive from family and any – if any – disposable income to pay the debt.
It could be the perfect time to show you really can’t pay the debt and state that no further court action should be taken against you by the debt collector.
Can Debt Collectors See Your Bank Account Balance UK? (Summary)
Although debt collectors do not have easy access to your bank balance, they can find out about your personal circumstances if you fail to keep up with a CCJ.
This only occurs very late in the debt collection process, which means that for most of the time, debt collectors do not know anything about your personal financial situation
The Key Takeaway
With this in mind, it stresses the need for debtors to make debt collectors prove they owe the debt, and if they do, come up with a way to pay. There are lots of debt solutions around and ways to get out of debt – even big debts.
But confronting the debt early before it gets to a CCJ is the most important thing to remember here.
For information on how to tackle debts no matter what your income, speak with UK debt charities like Step Change and use the free info at Money Nerd.