Debt collection letters are definitely a frightening thing to see on your front doormat.
If you do happen to receive one, there’s a number of things you can do with it. While it’s definitely a cause for concern, there’s really no need to panic.
I’ve written at length about what you should be doing if a debt collector shows up at your doorstep but should you do when they attempt to make contact remotely?
A Debt Collection Agency Keeps Sending me Letters, Can I Get them to Stop?
It really depends on whether or not you have the power to get a debt collector to stop sending you letters. What does it depend on? Well, if the debt is legitimate and the collector has a valid reason to contact you, then you cannot stop debt collection letters being sent to your address.
Your debt collectors have the right to contact you in regards to a legitimate debt that you owe. They have to provide you with information and sending you a letter is the most non-intrusive way in which they can contact you.
To summarise, in the case of a legitimate debt, you have to be in contact with your collector or creditor through some medium. It’s understandable if you don’t want them to visit your home or call you on your phone.
You can request them to not do this. However, when you’ve stated that you’d prefer not to be contacted via these avenues, the only way that’s left is through letters. You cannot stop letters as well as that would stop all communication between you and your debts collector.
Of course, if the debt is invalid or does not apply to you, you have every right to stop the debt collection letters coming to your home. You can do this by writing to the collector and telling him/her that the debt they are trying to pursue is not owed by you.
It is then up to them to find proof of whether or not you owe the debt or not. If they are able to find proof that you do indeed owe the debt, then you’re going to have to address that. However, if they are unable to find proof that it’s yours, then they will have to stop sending you letters.
Note that all debt collectors and debt collection agencies registered in England are bound to operate under guidelines specified by the Financial Conduct Authority. If debt collectors keep contacting you via letters even after you have told them that the debt is not yours, then you can report them to the Financial Conduct Authority.
Again, to reiterate, in the case of a legitimate debt, the best way to stop letters arriving at your home is to simply pay it. If you can afford to pay it using a lump sum of money, then you can opt for a ‘full and final’ settlement offer that would get rid of it in one fell swoop.
A ‘full and final’ settlement offer involves you paying a lump sum of money to your creditors which may or may not be the full amount you owe. In the case of the lump sum not being the full amount that you owe, your creditors agree to ‘write off’ the rest of the amount.
This method allows you to stop debt collection letters coming to your home by completely eradicating your debt.
If you feel that you are unable to pay off the debt that is being demanded from you, then you need to get debt advice. They are several independent debt charities registered in England which help debtors understand their situation and make a plan for them to get them out of their debts.
You can seek advice from charities such as StepChange which will look at your financial information and help you determine what the best course of action for you would be. Keep in mind that if you are unable to pay off your debts immediately, then it’s very likely that you’ll enter into a long-term repayment plan which would probably involve monthly payments to either the debt collection agency or directly to your creditor.
In this case, you would still be receiving mail from either your creditor or debt collectors regarding information about the status of your debt. Once the entire duration of your payment plan has elapsed and you have paid off your debt entirely, the mail will stop.
Is Ignoring a Letter I Got from a Debt Collector a Good Idea?
It’s never a good idea to ignore attempts from a debt collector to get in touch. It’s certainly tempting but I can tell you that if you ignore a letter from a debt collector, you may regret it heavily in the future. Here’s why:
Debt Collectors Almost Never Give Up
Some people think that if they keep ignoring mail from debt collectors, they will eventually give up. While this can be the case sometimes but it’s extremely rare.
Debt collectors are highly motivated individuals that get a bonus depending on how much money they are able to retrieve from you.
Considering this, I think you’ll agree that it’s quite unlikely that they’ll stop contacting you just because you’re ignoring them. In fact, ignoring a letter from a debt collector will most likely result in more intrusive attempts to get in touch with you.
For example, if you don’t reply to a debts collection agent, they might get a hold of your phone number and start calling you. If you ignore their calls, then they may get information regarding where you live and show up at your home.
Ignoring Letters from Debt Collectors could be a Missed Opportunity
Not only that but ignoring a letter from a debt collector can also be a missed opportunity to settle it right then and there.
For example, there’s a chance that the debt that the collector is calling you in regards to is not even yours. If you just open the letter and read it, you would know this and thus, you would be able to reply to the debt collector and tell him to cease sending you letters regarding the debt since it isn’t yours.
This would most likely solve your problem almost immediately. On the other hand, if you keep ignoring the letter, the debt collector isn’t going to give up and you’ll definitely be receiving more of them (not to mention, phone calls and house visits in the future from them as well).
It May Cause Your Debt to Grow
Furthermore, ignoring letters from people trying to collect debt from you can also make your debt grow. You’re depriving yourself of important information by not reading the mail that your creditors send you. You may be able to take care of your debt if you just read the letter that you’ve received.
On the other hand, if you keep ignoring it, your debt will definitely keep growing as your debtor will keep adding interest and additional charges onto it if you don’t take care of it. Thus, it may spiral out of control to a point where you can’t pay it off anymore. In that case, you would most likely have to declare bankruptcy.
What Does a Letter from a Person Collecting Debts Normally Contain?
It’s very understandable why a lot of debtors are tempted to ignore letters sent to them by debt collectors. The language used in them can definitely be quite intimidating. While most of them usually have information in regards to your debt, a lot of them can also contain threats of court action. Many debt collectors like to threaten debtors with bailiffs, courts and bankruptcy.
If your creditor is seriously considering court action against you, then your debt collectors are definitely required to provide you with this information.
That being said, a lot of debt collectors falsely state this in their letters even when it isn’t the case.
You should never do what a letter is asking you to if you feel that you lack critical information or feel that you are being treated unfairly. I highly recommend that you seek advice from a professional before you blindly act on whatever your creditor debt collector is asking you to do.
Seeking advice is definitely the best thing you can do as being in debt is already a stressful situation and you can’t expect yourself to have all the information you need in order to tackle your debt effectively.
Please note that if you share your residence with your spouse, roommate or housemate, etc., your creditor should only send the letter addressed solely to you. They are not allowed to send the letter in joint names to everyone who lives at your residence.
This would be in direct violation of guidelines defined by the FCA which state that debt collectors and creditors are not allowed to discuss the details of your debt with anyone other than you. If you receive a letter regarding your debt that isn’t addressed solely to you, I suggest you seek advice from a professional about how you can hold them accountable.
I would advise seeking advice from an independent charity in this case such as StepChange or Payplan.
A letter from a debt collector is definitely a very unpleasant thing to receive but you have to understand that it’s something you can’t just ignore.
Burying your head in the sand is the worst way to tackle a debt. Reading through such a letter can definitely be anxiety-inducing but you must understand that most debt collectors use intimidating language within these letters only as a scare tactic.
Their words hold no weight in most cases and you don’t have to worry about most of their threats as they don’t have any extra-legal powers.