how to beat debt collectors uk

Lots of our readers ask how to beat debt collectors UK. The truth is you can never really beat them in terms of not paying a debt that you owe, but there are strategies and techniques you can use to counter any of the debt collector’s claims – and any illegal pressuring methods that the debt collector uses.

In this post, you can learn about ways to beat UK debt collectors through the statute barred loophole, making complaints to the Ombudsman and even IVAs.

First, What Is a Debt Collector?

The term debt collector often gets used for two different types of people/groups with very different jobs. On the one hand, there are debt collection agencies that buy debt from others, or collect debt on the behalf of other companies. These groups try to get debt from you by sending letters asking you to pay or agreeing repayment plans with you. They have very limited powers but can take the debt to court to get their money if you ignore them.

On the other hand, debt collector is also a term used for law enforcement officers, more commonly known as bailiffs. These are people who are instructed by creditors that have already got court approval to enforce the debt. They go to debtors’ homes to request payment or repossess items to pay off the debt. They have much greater responsibility and powers than debt collection agencies.

How to Beat Debt Collectors UK?

There is very little you can do to beat a bailiff. If the debt has already gone to the courts and given a CCJ, nothing can be done other than finding a way to pay. Thus, when we talk about how to beat debt collectors in the UK, we are really asking how we can beat debt collection agencies at the start of the debt collection process.

Below you can find ways to counter their threats and claims:

1.      See if Your Debt Is Statute Barred

There is one instance when you can rebuke their debt claims by telling them the debt is too old to be collected. This is known as statute barred debt. Your debt will be legally unenforceable if:

  • The debt is at least six years old
  • You haven’t made a payment in the last six years
  • You haven’t agreed that you have the debt in the last six years
  • There is no CCJ for the debt already

If these apply, you can tell the debt collection agency that your debt is statute barred in a letter. Statute barred letter templates can be found on UK debt charities websites.

2.      Request Proof of the Debt

When you first receive a debt letter from a debt collector agency, you should reply requesting proof that you owe the debt. This means they have to send you signed agreements to show that you have defaulted on payments and landed in debt.

If they can’t prove this with evidence, the debt cannot be enforced. If they fail to provide evidence and keep asking for payments, you should keep all communications and make an official complaint.

3.      Make Official Complaints If Necessary

This isn’t the only reason to make an official complaint. You should also complain if:

  • The debt collection company tries to enter your home
  • They pretend they are the same as bailiffs, i.e. can take your possessions
  • Threaten jail time
  • Discuss your debts to employers and family members
  • Harass you with repeated calls or texts

These are just some of the reasons you should make a complaint. After complaining directly with no result, you may then complain to the Financial Ombudsman. If they decide the debt collector has acted wrongfully, they may fine them and award you with compensation.

Beating Debt Collectors with an IVA

Debtors can find lots of debt solutions, and the one that is right for them may not be right for another debtor. An IVA is one of the most appealing debt solutions because it gives you the chance to wipe away all of your debts without paying them all off.

Some people only pay off around 10% of their debt before all of them are wiped.

An IVA is an agreement between you and all your creditors. It should be said that you must have more than one debt to be suitable for this solution – and your total debts must be around £2,000 or more. The agreement is somewhat like a payment plan that lasts five years. Each month you make a significant payment of £90 or more. After the five years is up, all your debts are cleared.

It is an appealing solution to people with significant debt. If you have more than one debt collection agency chasing you for money, this option could help you “beat” them by clearing your debt without ever paying it all off.

A Word on Stopping Harassment

One of the criminal techniques used by some debt collection agencies is that they will apply repeated pressure and create anxiety through multiple calls each day. This is an illegal technique but one that the bad collectors continue to pursue.

You can block them from using this technique by requesting they only contact you ate certain times of the day. If they then fail to stick to your communication preferences, you can make a complaint. First to them directly and then to the Ombudsman. By providing the Ombudsman with a call log to show they are harassing you and not abiding by your preferences, the Ombudsman has grounds to issue a penalty.

Can We Really Beat Debt Collectors?

If you owe a genuine debt, there is nothing you can do to avoid paying the debt, either in full or with one of the many debt solutions that spread out payments. But we can beat debt collectors at their own game by blocking their attempts to make our lives miserable until we pay.

Just by knowing your rights, you are beating debt collectors and stopping them from operating illegally.

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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