There could be lots of reasons why you are wondering how do debt collectors find you in the UK. You may simply be curious, or you may be wondering if you can do things to go under the radar and avoid paying. But changing your name and disappearing from existence isn’t a good idea if you want to avoid debt collection agencies.

So, how do debt collectors find you in the UK? How can you avoid them? And is it really a good idea?

How Do Debt Collectors Find You UK?

Debt collectors need to make contact with you to request payment for the debt they have bought from a creditor, or for the debt they are chasing on behalf of someone else (for a commission). They can often do this by looking at the debt you have. For example, if you have an unpaid electric bill which has escalated into debt, they can simply look at the address where the electric bill is registered.

But you may have moved from this address since the debt collection agency started tracking you down. If they can’t find you at that address, they may start using public databases to see where you moved to. They could even try to access your credit report to give an indication of your location, but sometimes they don’t this as it can be costly if they have to keep doing it for lots of untraceable debtors.

Do Debt Collectors Struggle to Find Debtors?

Yes, it is not easy trying to locate one person in a population of over 65 million. People change address frequently and even change their name. Therefore, debt collection agencies have a difficult job trying to find people. Some people with debt do not have a lot of financial commitments. They may not have records to trace if they don’t pay household bills or are couch surfing.

What Are the Consequences?

The consequence is that debt collection agencies use a technique known as the scatter-gun approach. This is where they send a debt letter requesting payment from the person they are looking for at all possible addresses where they may be. This is a cheap way of trying to locate the right person, hoping they will reply via letter or phone and maybe even make a payment.

The other consequence is that lots of innocent people who do not owe the debt also get contacted. These letters can be threatening and cause a lot of anxiety and stress to people who are not responsible for the debt.

How to Avoid Debt Collectors

Even though finding debtors can be tough, the only way they cannot be found is if they stay under the radar. This means no mortgages, no rent agreements and maybe no mobile phone contracts. Ultimately, staying under the radar and untraceable is almost impossible, especially if you want to live a modern life and remain connected online.

The bottom line? Trying to go undetected from debt collectors is not a wise or even a beneficial idea.

Can I Go Abroad to Avoid Debt Collectors?

If you go and live abroad to avoid debt collectors in the UK, you do increase your chances of remaining undetected. But again, this is not a sensible option. For one, going abroad to live is not so easy in light of Brexit, and even if you did, trying to earn a living abroad without fluency in another language may be tough. You may not have a better quality of life abroad compared to paying back your debts in the UK. Naturally, this will depend on personal circumstances and skills.

Moreover, going abroad is not bulletproof in stopping your debts from following you. Some debt collectors will sell debts to international companies. For example, if you immigrate to Australia with a debt in the UK, that debt could be sold to debt collection groups in Australia – and the nightmare continues.

What If Your Debt Already Has a CCJ?

If your debt already has a CCJ and is legally enforceable, you will have been requested by the courts to make repayments to the creditor. If you try to go hiding at this point, the creditor can then choose to take enforceable action by employing a bailiff to come to your home. But what if they don’t know where you live and you have gone hiding? Well, there is something the creditor can do.

They can make a request for you to go back to court and face a judge. The purpose of this is to get information about any assets you have before deciding whether to employ bailiffs. The process is known as an ‘Order to Obtain’ because the creditor is wanting to obtain information about your circumstances.

You will then be responsible for disclosing your information to a judge, including your whereabouts.

Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Your Debts

There is no long-term benefit in avoiding your creditors for most people. Many who try to hide and avoid debt collectors get found out in the end. By this point, the debt has manifested, and they owe much more than when they went on the run.

Another reason not to try and hide from debt collectors is because there are many debt solutions available. Even if you cannot make a full payment to clear the debt, creditors and collection agencies are usually open to receiving monthly repayments to spread out the costs and keep the debt affordable. There are even debt solutions for people with big debts to lots of creditors, such as an IVA or bankruptcy.

To maintain a quality of life and get back on track with your finances, don’t try to run away from your debts. There is excellent support available with UK debt charities and the posts at Money Nerd can help all types of debtors.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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