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How to Complain about Debt Collection Agencies? 

Scott Nelson Profile Picture Janine Marsh Profile Picture
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Scott
Scott Nelson Profile Picture

Scott Nelson

Managing Director

MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.

Learn more about Scott
&
Janine
Janine Marsh Profile Picture

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.

Learn more about Janine
· Feb 6th, 2024
Could you legally write off some debt? Answer below to get started.

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How To Complain About Debt Collectors

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

Receiving an unexpected letter from a debt collector can be a shock. This can leave you with many questions. Where has the debt come from? Do I need to pay? Is the debt real? What if I can’t afford to pay?

But don’t worry, we can help you with answers to all these questions. In this guide, we’ll talk about:

  •  How to make a complaint about debt collection agencies 
  •  The new 2023 laws about debt collection 
  •  How to check if the debt is real 
  •  How to handle it if you cannot afford to pay 
  •  How to get more help with your debts

We know this can be a tough time, as nearly half of the individuals who deal with debt collection agencies have experienced harassment or aggression1. Over 170,000 people visit our website each month for help just like this. You are not alone. We have a lot of experience in helping people handle debt. 

So, read on to learn more about how to handle unexpected debt letters.

Could you legally write off some debt?

There are several debt solutions in the UK, choosing the right one for you could write off some of your unaffordable debt, but the wrong one may be expensive and drawn out.

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find. MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

How to Complain about Debt Collection Agencies

Complaining about a debt collection agency requires you to collect as much evidence as possible.

For some complaints, such as harassment complaints, this can be rather easy as you just need to download call logs to show how many times they have called and at what times. For other complaints, such as verbal threats or anything that is said on a call, this can be more difficult to gather evidence for, especially if you cannot record the call yourself.

However, you should write down the times and dates of these calls because if it gets investigated, the people looking into it may be able to access their call recordings and hear the calls for themselves.

Know Your Rights

It’s very important that you know your rights when dealing with debt collectors, as this can help you have an edge over the situation. Here’s a quick table summarizing what debt collectors can and can’t do.

Debt Collectors Can But They Can’t
Contact you by phone or mail. Call you after 9pm or before 8am.
Conduct home visits (on rare occasions) and knock on your door. Forbily enter your home, or stay if you ask them to leave.
Threaten to take you to court by suing you for payment on a debt. Harrass you, including threats of violence, repeated calls and visits, or abusive language.
Negotiate a debt settlement. Tip: make sure to get this new arrangement in writing. Visit your workplace.
Access your bank account, but only after a court judgment has been made. Take anything from your home or threaten to do so.
Sell your debt. Speak to other people about your debt without your permission.
Contact you frequently. Keep doing so if you request that they reduce communications.

Where Should I Direct My Complaint?

When making a complaint about a debt collection agency, your initial complaint should be sent to the debt collection agency responsible. If the complaint doesn’t get a response, their response is unsatisfactory or they respond but nothing changes, it is time to take the complaint further.

Where Do I Take My Complaint Next?

The next place to take your complaint is to the Financial Ombudsman. This is the authority on all disputes and complaints within the financial services industry. They deal with complaints people have with banks, loan providers, and you guessed it – debt collection agencies.

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

What Details Do I Need to Provide?

When making a complaint to the Ombudsman about a collection company, you simply have to provide you version of events, any evidence you have and your personal details. If you have received a debt letter with a reference number on, they will need this reference too.

What Happens Next?

Once you have given them all the information, their teams will look into the case and investigate what has happened. They will gather a version of events from the debt collection agency as well, but they do not side with them. The Financial Ombudsman is impartial and only sides with the law.

Sometimes, investigations into a complaint can drag on many weeks, especially if you don’t have much evidence and they need to dig deeper.

A Decision and Appeal

Once the Ombudsman has gathered all the evidence and made a decision as to whether you have been treated correctly or not, they will inform you of their decision, usually by letter.

If they do not agree that you have been harassed, pressured, or anything else that is against industry legislation, you have the right to appeal and get a second decision.

A second decision is the last step when complaining to the Financial Ombudsman. If you want to take the matter further at this stage, it is only possible by taking legal action.

What Will My Complaint Achieve?

If your complaint is upheld and the agency has been found guilty of unfair treatment and malpractice, they could be hit with a fine. Sometimes these fines are significant and if lots of people complain, it could put the future of the debt collection agency in jeopardy.

There is a possibility that multiple complaints could strip the collection agency of their rights to operate within the debt industry. 

The average unsecured debt has increased by 25% year-on-year, rising to £13,9412. This means that there are new debt collection companies created every year, and with enough complaints, new guidelines can be established to regulate their behavior.

How a debt solution could help

Some debt solutions can:

  1. Stop nasty calls from creditors
  2. Freeze interest and charges
  3. Reduce your monthly payments

A few debt solutions can even result in writing off some of your debt.

Here’s an example:


Situation

Monthly income £2,504
Monthly expenses £2,345
Total debt £32,049

Monthly debt repayments

Before £587
After £158

£429 reduction in monthly payments

If you want to learn what debt solutions are available to you, click the button below to get started.

Get Started

The Ombudsman Can Assist with Direct Complaints

Earlier we mentioned that the first complaint you make should be directed at the debt collection agency in question. If you do not feel confident at complaining to them or don’t know how to make your complaint, the Ombudsman can assist with this and guide you in the right direction.

Some UK debt charities will be able to help as well – for free!

Common Reasons to Complain about Debt Collection Agencies

There are many reasons why a debtor could choose to make a complaint about a collection industry. One of the most common is harassment. These companies are not allowed to make repeated calls to apply pressure, and if you give them preferences of when you want to be contacted, they must stick to them.

If they don’t, this is harassment and it is a criminal offence. 

But there are other reasons why you may choose to make a complaint about a debt collection agency, such as:

  • They told your employer, spouse or someone else about the debt.
  • They pretended to be bailiffs and said they can enter your home and/or could remove your possessions.
  • They keep trying to pressure you to make a payment.
  • They use technical jargon to try and confuse you and don’t offer to explain things in simple terms when asked.
  • They are abusive.

Janine, our financial expert, explained that while debt collectors can visit your home for payments, they cannot come to your workplace, act threateningly, force payment, or discuss your finances with others. If they violate these rules, you can complain.

Will a Complaint Wipe My Debts?

A successful complaint will not void you of the obligation to pay your debts. Your debt will remain the same, but it will make dealing with the agency much easier and could reduce stress and worry when dealing with them.

On some occasions, the Financial Ombudsman can request that the debt collection agency pays you a sum of money as compensation. If this happens, you could use it to pay off some or all of your debt, depending on your situation.

Thousands have already tackled their debt

Every day our partners, The Debt Advice Service, help people find out whether they can lower their repayments and finally tackle or write off some of their debt.

Natasha

I’d recommend this firm to anyone struggling with debt – my mind has been put to rest, all is getting sorted.

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Checking for Other Debt Collectors

There are a lot of ways to get into debt. In fact, it’s not uncommon to owe money to several companies at once.

Perhaps you have a mortgage, a car loan, a couple credit cards and an item or two you bought on buy-now-pay-later schemes. It’s easy to lose track

That’s why it’s important to regularly check your credit report and bank statements to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

If a debt collector has purchased your debt, it appears on your credit report.

Some of the debt collectors you’re most likely to come across are PRA Group, Lowell and Cabot Financial

Get Further Debt Support at MoneyNerd!

Dealing with debts can make you feel isolated and cause severe mental health problems. But every debtor should know that there are lots of options to get out of debt. The Money Nerd website is packed with easy-to-understand information for the everyday person struggling with debt.

Take a look at our debt solutions page to find your next escape route out of debt!

Could you legally write off some debt?

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find, MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

References

  1. InDebted, Debt Collectors Survey
  2. StepChange, Statistics Yearbook December 2022
The authors
Scott Nelson Profile Picture
Author
MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.
Janine Marsh Profile Picture
Debt Expert
Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.