Debt collector harassment is a serious concern in the debt collection industry with rogue debt collectors trying to apply pressure by making frequent calls or turning up at debtors’ homes. Learn what constitutes debt collector harassment and what you can do when debt collection agencies keep making threatening phone calls. Fight back with our help!
What Is Debt Collector Harassment?
Debt collector harassment is when you are being harassed to pay off debts, usually by multiple communications and too many calls within a short period. This may be done by your creditors directly (the people you owe the money to such as a utility bill company or loan company), but it is more likely to happen through a debt collection agency who work on behalf of your creditors to chase up the debt.
Is Debt Collector Harassment Illegal?
Just like any other form of harassment, debt collector harassment is 100% illegal. Nobody deserves to be harassed, no matter how many debts they have or how much they owe. If a debt collector or a creditor is harassing you, they are committing a criminal offence.
Some debt collection groups know they are breaking the law but do it anyway because they think that the debtor is more likely to pay up than submit official complaints.
What Is Classed as Debt Collector Harassment?
Lots of things can constitute debt collector harassment, such as:
- Phone calls before 8am
- Phone calls after 9pm
- Phone calls at times when you asked them not to call
- Repeated phone calls or text messages throughout the day/week
- Nuisance calls where debt collectors don’t speak when you answer
- Home visits (especially when making false repossession claims)
- Coming to your place of work to collect debt
This is not a complete list of what can be classed as debt collector harassment.
What Can You Do to Stop Nuisance Calls?
If repeated and nuisance calls are your main concern, you should be able to stop debt collectors from calling too often by providing them with your communication preferences. You are allowed to inform them of the ways you want to be contacted and at the times of the day you are willing to speak with them.
If after you have provided them with this information, and they continue to disregard your preferences, it can be used as further evidence of debt collector harassment.
What Can I Do if Debt Collectors Come to My Home?
There is only one type of worker in the debt collection agency that is allowed to request entry to your property or threaten the repossession of your items. This worker is a law enforcement officer (bailiff) and they only do this once the debt has been judged in court and made payable.
No debt collection agency or creditor has the right to enter your home, and they are not allowed to say or give the impression that they can take your items. This is illegal. If you keep getting home visit by field workers who are not law enforcement officers, you can simply ask them to leave and ignore them. You might want to record them as evidence of debt collector harassment.
How to Complain About Debt Collector Harassment (Fight Back!)
The process of making a debt collector harassment complaint can be split into three stages:
- Gather evidence of harassment
- Make a complaint to the creditor/debt collection company
- Make a complaint to governing bodies and others
Step One: First you must gather as much evidence as possible to prove that you have been subject to criminal debt collector harassment. To do this, you will need to download call logs showing that creditors have frequently called you (maybe at times you asked them not to). Or gather witness statements, photos or video evidence that they have been coming to your home frequently.
Step Two: Send copies (don’t send your original and only evidence) to the debt collection agency showing them why they are guilty of debt collector harassment. Ask them to stop and make specific requests of how you wish to be contacted in the future.
At this stage, it is hoped that any debt collector harassment will stop. But if it doesn’t you should proceed to step three.
Step Three: If they don’t react to your direct complaint within three business days, you are allowed to complain about the debt collector harassment to the Financial Ombudsman who may choose to investigate the matter further and apply fines. You should also report them to any governing trade bodies that the company belongs to and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The FCA may be able to stop the debt collection agency operating legally. The official complaints procedures for each can be found on their website. It is crucial to keep original and backup debt collector harassment evidence in case you need to complain to these groups.
Can Debt Collection Companies Tell My Family?
Debt collection agencies are not allowed to disclose your debts to other people. That means they cannot call a household phone and tell another persona that you have a debt. They also cannot tell your employer that you are in debt. These are serious industry breaches and warrant complaints to the FCA and Ombudsman.
Can My Debt be Wiped Because of Debt Collector Harassment?
Unfortunately, it is not possible for your debt to be wiped because of debt collector harassment. If the debt collection agency were found guilty on a number of occasions and forced out of business for breaking industry rules, there is a small chance the debt would not be asked to be paid for some time (this is not the same as wiped!).
In an event like this, it is likely that your debt would be sold to another debt collection agency that is still operational.