Unfortunately, the debt collection industry includes companies that chase people for money without playing by the rules. They use pressuring tactics, harassment and lie to get what they want. If this sounds familiar, you might want to know how to complain to debt collection agencies.
Read on to uncover the common reasons why debtors make a complains, how to complain to debt collection agencies – and what your complaint could achieve.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Get Further Debt Support at Money Nerd!
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Take a look at our debt solutions page to find your next escape route out of debt!