The Debt Collection Ombudsman may be the answer to your debt collection nightmare. If you are experiencing harassment, pressuring tactics or other illegal practices from people trying to collect debt from you, an official complaint can help. We have all the key information on the Debt Collection Ombudsman and how to make a complaint about any UK debt collection group, right here!
What Is the Debt Collection Ombudsman?
Lots of people refer to the Debt Collection Ombudsman, but in reality, there is no such thing as a Debt Collection Ombudsman. What they really mean by this phrase is the Financial Ombudsman, which is in charge of monitoring the debt collection industry along with all the other financial industries.
The Financial Ombudsman was created at the turn of the last century and has been given legal powers to resolve disputes between UK residents and companies that provide products and services relating to finance.
For example, the Financial Ombudsman may be used if someone raises a complaint with a UK bank and the bank do not resolve the complaint in the eyes of the consumer. Overall, the Financial Ombudsman will use the law – including the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 – to make judgements on any complaints that have been escalated to them.
Just like many other people who use them for debt matters, we will also refer to them as the Debt Collection Ombudsman and the Financial Ombudsman interchangeably in this post.
Why Complain to the Debt Collection Ombudsman?
Most debtors who make a complaint to the Debt Collection Ombudsman will do so because they feel that their creditors or any company chasing them for debt have not acted appropriately. One of the common complaints is debt collection harassment, which is when debt collection groups make repeated calls or home visits, i.e. they harass debtors until they pay.
This is a criminal offence, just like:
- Disclosing your debt to third parties
- Trying to get debt payments at your place of work
- Applying pressure or using threatening tactics
- Demanding entry to your home
When Should You Complain to the Debt Collection Ombudsman?
The Debt Collection Ombudsman is the last point of call for a complaint. Most financial service providers, including debt collection agencies, do not want any complaint from their customers to reach the Ombudsman because it can have serious consequences, including heavy fines.
You might want to go straight to the Debt Collection Ombudsman because they have a lot of power and are influential in the debt collection industry, but you have to try to complain directly to the company responsible first. This means gathering evidence on your accusation. If your accusation was debt collection harassment, you might provide them with copies of phone call logs.
If the creditor or collection agency does not respond to your complaint in time or does not change their behaviour because of what you complained about (you can request contact preferences etc), you should then make a complaint to the Debt Collection Ombudsman.
How to Complain to the Debt Collection Ombudsman (Step by Step)
Complaining to the Debt Collection Ombudsman is made easy. Below you can find the process involved, as explained on the Financial Ombudsman website:
Step One: Contact the Company Directly
As mentioned, you will be asked to try and resolve the matter between you and the creditor. However, the Financial Ombudsman will offer to guide you on how to make a direct complain if needed.
Step Two: Complain to the Financial Ombudsman
If you don’t receive a response or are not satisfied with their response, you have up to six months to move your complaint over to the Financial Ombudsman. You only need to provide your basic information, details of the complaint and any reference numbers you have with the creditor/collection agency.
Step Three: The Financial Ombudsman Assesses the Complaint
The Financial Ombudsman will take the facts, your information and evidence, as well as any information provided by the debt collection group to assess the situation. Sometimes this takes more than three months to be finalised.
Step Four: Result and Resolve?
After the complaint has been analysed by the Financial Ombudsman, they will give their opinion on the events. They may ask the company to put things right with you because you were wrongly treated. Most complaints to the Financial Ombudsman end here and are resolved.
Step Five(A): Second Look
If you disagree with the Financial Ombudsman’s decision and verdict, you can ask for a second opinion which is legally binding. If you are still unhappy after this stage, your case can only go further in a court of law. The Financial Ombudsman do not offer a third opinion on a complaint.
Step Five(B): Taking Action
If the second opinion goes in your favour, the Financial Ombudsman will ask for things to be put right and they may even order the debt collection agency to pay you compensation because of their actions.
Is the Debt Collection Ombudsman Unbiased?
Yes, all judgements and complaint procedures handled by the Financial Ombudsman are done so without bias. They work impartially to get the right result pertaining to the law. They are neither on your side or the debt collection group’s side. They are on the side of debt industry regulations and applicable laws.
Can a Debt Collection Ombudsman Wipe My Debt?
It would be nice if your complaint against any rogue debt collection companies was upheld and the benefit was that your debt was wiped. Unfortunately, that is not how it works, and your debt will still need to be paid (if it is not statute barred).
For help and support to get out of debt, you can find more content on the Money Nerd website. All our information is broken up into simple-to-read chunks without confusing jargon.