How to Deal with Debt Collectors

If you are in financial difficulty you may get to a point where you have to deal with debt collectors. If you find yourself in this situation it’s likely that you’ll be scared every time you hear the post drop onto your doormat, every time the phone rings and every time someone knocks on your door.

Although it’d be tempting to bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem will go away, unfortunately it won’t. No matter how many letters you throw into the bin unopened and how many times you pretend you’re not in when the phone rings or there’s a knock on the door, they’ll keep coming back and you’ll have to face the problem sooner rather than later.

The good news is that although the debt collectors are obviously trying to recover a debt from you, many of them can actually be quite helpful. But it’s also important to remember that there are a number of debt collectors who will use any means possible to try to extract money from you, even if that means they have be dishonest or even act illegally.

This guide will explain what you should and shouldn’t do if you have to deal with a debt collector, and explains what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

When Can Debt Collectors Visit?

Debt collectors should give you seven days notice of their intention to visit in writing. This gives you a chance to come to an arrangement with your lender or to repay the amount that you owe in full. If you do that the debt collector’s visit will be cancelled.

If you haven’t come to any arrangement and haven’t repaid the debt during those seven days, you can expect a visit. However, debt collectors are not allowed to come to your home before 6am or after 9pm.

What Powers Do Debt Collectors Have When They Visit?

What a debt collector can and cannot do will depend on what sort of debt collector they are. Unless they have been appointed by a court they have no legal powers. They are not allowed into your home unless you invite them in and they are not allowed to take any of your property unless you agree to let them take it.

The problem is that even thought this sort of debt collector doesn’t have any legal powers, many of them will claim that they do in an attempt to pressure you into paying them money or letting them take your property. And in fact, some of them will tell you that they have been appointed by a court even if they haven’t been. They may also have documentation that looks official but isn’t.

It’s vital that you check that a debt collector is who they claim to be. You do not have to open the door to do this. You can ask them to put their ID through your letterbox or view it through a window. If you’re not sure, you can contact the court that they claim has appointed them to verify their claim or check the register of certificated bailiffs online to see if they are listed.

If the person on your doorstep has been appointed by a court they will generally be happy to wait while you check that they are who they say that they are. If they try to bully you into letting them into your home you should view that as a red flag and be suspicious.

So If They’ve Not Been Appointed by a Court, I Can Ignore Them?

Yes and no. Legally, yes. There is nothing that they can do if you simply ignore them and turn up the volume on your TV to drown out the sound of them knocking on your door. They may even decide not to return if they’ve been unsuccessful and it looks likely that future visits will be equally unsuccessful.

If you do simply ignore them, though, there is a risk that they will keep coming back and each time they do, they’ll add more fees to your outstanding balance. If they’re really determined they may well decide to take you to court.

You shouldn’t let them in, but unless you are planning to completely ignore the debt and hope that it goes away it is probably worth telling them that you’re not going to let them in and saying that you will contact the lender to discuss a repayment plan. If they offer you a repayment plan, ask them to put that in writing so you can consider it.

Under no circumstances should you pay any money or let them take any of your property even if they threaten that they will take you to court if you don’t. Neither should you sign any agreements on the doorstep because you won’t have had time to consider the agreement properly. And avoid giving them too many details that could be used against you at a later date.

What If They’ve Been Appointed by a Court?

A court-appointed bailiff does have certain legal powers, but even so, those powers are limited.

Unless they are collecting unpaid criminal fines, income tax or stamp duty you are not required to open the door or let them in. And they are only allowed to enter via a door. They cannot climb in through an open window, for instance.

If you do open your door, they are not usually allowed to enter your home by forcing past you. Neither are they allowed to enter your home if there are children or vulnerable people present.

But the bad news is that if you do let them in and don’t pay the amount you owe or come to an arrangement with them, they are allowed to take some of your belongings to recover the debt and cover their fees. If you do not open your door they make take items that are outside instead. This could include your garden furniture or your car if it is on your drive. In certain circumstances they are also permitted to gain entry by force as a last resort.

Conclusion

If a debt collector visits your home, check that they are a court-appointed bailiff rather than just a debt collector before allowing them in. A court-appointed bailiff will be happy to wait while you do this.

Unless the person on your doorstep has been appointed by a court you should not let them in and should tell them that you will speak to the lender to come to an arrangement. Do not allow them to bully you with false claims. If extreme circumstances you may even need to phone to police to have the debt collector removed if they refuse to leave.

If the person on your doorstep has been appointed by a court they will have more powers, although their powers are still limited.

In either case, you should consider speaking to the organisation that you owe money to in an attempt to resolve the issue because otherwise, a return visit is a distinct possibility. You may also need to consider an overall debt management strategy, which could range from trying to arrange a debt management plan with your lenders to declaring yourself bankrupt.

Read More…

How to get a refund on your loan

How to Get a Refund on Your Loan (with Letter Templates)

This simple 3 step guide with letter templates will show you how easy it is to request a refund from ...
Read More

4 Ways to Write Off Your Debt

There are 4 ways to write off your debts that lenders don't want you to know about. Most lenders insist ...
Read More
IVA debt write off

Write Off up to 90% of your Debt with an IVA

Find out in this article how an IVA can allow you to write off up to 90% of your debt ...
Read More
credit card debt trick

Use this credit card trick to clear your debt!

This little known credit card trick can clear your expensive debt. We tend to think that a credit card from ...
Read More


Helpful? Take 5 seconds to share:
  Secure Website
Go
×

Standard Terms

These terms and conditions apply to all and anybody who uses the MoneyNerd Website or DebtNerd tool. By using the website and toll you agree to be bound by these terms. If you do not accept these terms, please do not use the website.

The term ‘you’ refers to the user or viewer of our website.

General

Other

×

Privacy Policy

The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every data controller who is processing personal data to notify the Information Commissioner of any breaches no more than 72 hours after becoming aware of it unless they are exempt from doing so. Failure to notify is a criminal offence.  In addition, any FCA regulated firm must notify the FCA – ideally within 24hrs of discovery of a breach.

This document should be read in conjunction with our Acceptable Use policy and Information Security policy which form part of the Employee’s Handbook.  We are committed to protecting and respecting privacy.

This policy sets out the basis on which any personal data we collect from a consumer will be processed by us.

For the purpose of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the Act”), the data controller is Nerd FS.

By visiting and using our website the consumer is consenting to the practices set out below.

If our firm needs to collect data for any purpose not stated above we should notify the Information Commissioner before collecting that data.

Whenever collecting information about people, our firm agrees to apply the Eight Data Protection Principles:

  1. Personal data should be processed fairly and lawfully
  2. Personal data should be obtained only for the purpose specified
  3. Data should be adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purposes required
  4. Data should be accurate and kept up-to-date
  5. Data should not be kept for longer than is necessary for purpose
  6. Data processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this act
  7. Security: appropriate technical and organisational measures should be taken unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction or damage to personal data
  8. Personal data shall not be transferred outside the EEA unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of data protection

 Duties

The same principles apply to when data is taken out of the office

Working at home

The use of data for marketing purposes

For marketing purposes, there are two types of data:

Data obtained in-house

Data obtained from third parties

Security Statement

We have taken measures to guard against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss, destruction or damage.

This includes:

Customers Right to Withdraw Consent

The customer has the right to withdraw their consent at any time. The withdrawal of consent shall not affect the lawfulness of processing based on consent before it’s withdrawal. However, it does mean you can no longer rely on consent as your lawful basis for processing. They withdraw consent by either of the following; putting this in writing to address details, by calling telephone number or emailing email address.

As the right to withdraw is ‘at any time’, it’s not enough to provide an opt-out only by reply. The individual must be able to opt out at any time they choose, on their own initiative.

In some cases you may need to keep a record of the withdrawal of consent for your own purposes – for example, to maintain suppression records so that you can comply with direct marketing rules. You don’t need consent for this, as long as you tell individuals that you will keep these records, why you need them, and your lawful basis for this processing (eg legal obligation or legitimate interests).

Subject Access Request (SAR)

One of the main rights which the Data Protection Act gives to individuals is the right of access to their personal information.  An individual is permitted to send us a subject access request (“SAR”) requiring that we tell them about the personal information we hold about them, and to provide them with a copy of that information.  In most cases we must respond to a valid subject access request within 40 calendar days of receipt.  Any business is able to charge a customer a reasonable charge of £10 for providing this data however it is not our companies policy to do so unless the request is excessive or unwarranted.  Any Subject Access Requests must be sent to a Senior Manager for processing purposes.

Third party requests are also permitted e.g. a friend or relative, a solicitor, a claims management company or other third party. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Data Protection Principles, are not permitted to reveal such information to a third party without the authority of a customer. On this basis, for any third party SAR, we will ensure that we have a written record of authority held on file before we release any personal data.

Where there are two or more customers linked to one credit agreement and the request comes from one of these parties, we will provide the response to both parties

We are required to 'give' a copy of the executed agreement and any other document referred to in it and the required statement. In the FCA’s view, sending a copy of them by ordinary second class post will suffice. Guidance on what constitutes a ‘copy’ can be found in the case of Carey v HSBC Bank plc [2009] EWHC 3417 (QB).

The duty under the relevant section does not apply if no sum is, or will or may become, payable by customer under the agreement. This is irrespective of whether the agreement may have already been terminated.

We will promptly facilitate a SAR request, although we have up to 40 days to do so.  All staff are made aware of this during induction.  Refresher training will be provided on a regular basis.  Although the rules permit the Firm to charge a maximum of £10 for responding to the request for personal data, it is not the Firm’s own policy to do so.

Client consent to the application of the Act and their right to access to their records are included within the firm’s terms of business/client agreement.

Any data collected must not be excessive and must be relevant to the purpose and it must not be kept longer than is necessary.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The ICO has the power to issue monetary penalty notices of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act occurring on or after 6 April 2010, and serious breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Privacy

Our Privacy policy is in full view on our website.  This section must be read in conjunction with the Privacy Policy.

It is the responsibility of the senior management of our firm to ensure this policy is effective through monitoring and complaints procedures.

All employees, affiliates and ARs dealing with customers have a responsibility to read, understand and implement this policy and to hold their own valid and appropriate Privacy policy where appropriate.

The Firm holds a valid Data Protection license and it is bound by the rules of the Data Protection Act 1998.  The full extent of the rules can be found at www.dataprotection.gov.uk.

The 8 principles that the 1984 Act introduced are as follows.  Data must be:

Criminal offences

A criminal offence is committed by the Firm or an individual member of staff if they knowingly or recklessly:

Uses of customer information

When submitting application forms to banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, this means that personal data will, by default, also be submitted.  In these cases, clients will be informed that their personal data may be used.

The Firm will request client consent before any transfer of data takes place.  Clients will be asked to confirm that they are comfortable to have their personal data used in one or more of the following forms:

Post, telephone, email etc. subject to the conditions of the Data Protection Act.

Information Classification

 Definitions

The following definitions provide a summary of the information classification levels that have been adopted by our firm and which underpin the 8 principles of information security. These classification levels explicitly incorporate the Data Protection Act’s (“DPA”) definitions of Personal Data and Sensitive Personal Data, as laid out in our firm’s Data Protection Policy.

‘Confidential’ information has significant value for our firm, and unauthorised disclosure or dissemination could result in severe financial or reputational damage to us as an FCA authorised firm, including fines of up to £500,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Data that is defined by the Data Protection Act as Sensitive Personal Data falls into this category. Only those who explicitly need access must be granted it, and only to the least degree in order to do their work (the ‘need to know’ and ‘least privilege’ principles).  When held outside our firm, on mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or phones, or in transit, ‘Confidential’ information must be protected behind an explicit logon and encryption at the device, drive or file level.

‘Restricted’ information is subject to controls on access, such as only allowing valid logons from a small group of staff. ‘Restricted’ information must be held in such a manner that prevents unauthorised access i.e. on a system that requires a valid and appropriate user to log in before access is granted. Information defined as Personal Data by the Data Protection Act falls into this category. Disclosure or dissemination of this information is not intended, and may incur some negative publicity, but is unlikely to cause severe financial or reputational damage to our firm.  Note that under the Data Protection Act large datasets (>1000 records) of ‘Restricted’ information may become classified as Confidential, thereby requiring a higher level of access control.

‘Internal use’ information can be disclosed or disseminated by its owner to appropriate members of our firm, partners and other individuals, as appropriate by information owners without any restrictions on content or time of publication.

‘Public’ information can be disclosed or disseminated without any restrictions on content, audience or time of publication. Disclosure or dissemination of the information must not violate any applicable laws or regulations, such as privacy rules.  Modification must be restricted to individuals who have been explicitly approved by information owners to modify that information, and who have successfully authenticated themselves to the appropriate computer system.

Designating information as ‘Confidential’ involves significant costs in terms of implementation, hardware and ongoing resources, and makes data less mobile. For this reason, information owners making classification decisions must balance the risk of damage that could result from unauthorised access to, or disclosure of, the information against the cost of additional hardware, software or services required to protect it.

Examples

Security Level

Definitions

Examples

FOIA2000 / DPA1998 status

1. Confidential

Normally accessible only to specified and/or relevant members of our staff

DPA-defined Sensitive personal data:

·                     racial/ethnic origin

·                     political opinion

·                     religious beliefs

·                     trade union membership

·                     physical/mental health condition

·                     sexual life

·                     criminal record

·                     salary information

·                     individuals’ bank details

·                     passwords

·                     large aggregates of DPA-defined Personal Data (>1000 records) including elements such as name, address, telephone number.

·                     HR system data

Subject to significant scrutiny in relation to appropriate exemptions/ public interest and legal considerations.

2. Restricted

Normally accessible only to specified and/or relevant members of our staff

DPA-defined Personal Data (information that identifies living individuals including:

·                     home / work address

·                     age

·                     telephone number

·                     schools attended

·                     photographs

Subject to significant scrutiny in relation to appropriate exemptions/ public interest and legal considerations.

3. Internal Use

Normally accessible only to our staff

·                     Internal correspondence,

·                     internal group papers and minutes,

·                     information held under license company policy and procedures

Subject to scrutiny in relation to appropriate exemptions/ public interest and legal considerations

4.  Public

Accessible to all members of the public

·                     Company filed documents

·                     Company websites

Freely available on the website.

Explicit Information Ownership and Other Rights of Access to Information

We recommend that departments and functions within our business explicitly designate information owners.

Other users may have rights of access to data according to the terms of engagement under which the data was gained or created.

Granularity of Classification

The sets of information being classified should, in general, be large rather than small. Smaller units require more administrative effort, involve more decisions and add to complexity, thus decreasing the overall security.

 Information Retention

There may be minimum or maximum timescales for which information has to be kept. These may be mandated in a commercial contract. Other forms of information retention may be covered by environmental or financial regulations.

Responsibilities

All ‘Users’ must obtain authorisation from their line manager before their classification request is submitted to Senior Managers. Nerd FS is responsible for assessing information and classifying its sensitivity.

Violations

A violation of our Information Security Policy and supporting policy documents will be investigated and consequentially may result in disciplinary action which could include the termination of employment contract for employees, the termination of contractual relations in the case of third parties, contractors or consultants.

A violation of this policy and misuse of the systems and applications within our firm may also be a breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990; consequentially the company may at its discretion take legal action against an individual or organisation that is found to be in breach of its policies.

How we may use customer data

 We may as a result of a consumer or a third parties’ interaction with our website/s obtain their personal data and process their information on our computers and in any other way.

By “third parties” we mean any lender, broker or affiliate who interacts with us in enabling a consumer to make a loan application.

We will use the information to manage their account(s), give them statements and provide our services, for research, assessment and analysis (including credit and/or behaviour scoring, market and product analysis) and to develop and improve our services to the consumer and other consumers and protect our interests.

We, and other carefully selected third parties, will use their information to inform them by post, fax, telephone or other electronic means, about other products and services (including those of others) which we believe may be of interest to them.

If they contact us, we may keep a record of that correspondence.

We will keep details of transactions they carry out through our site and of the fulfilment of their applications and their loan history.

We will keep details of their visits to our site including, but not limited to, traffic data, location data, weblogs and other communication data and the resources that you access.

In order for us to be able to collect and use personal data and / or to pass If they do not want us to use their data in this way, or to pass their details on to third parties for marketing purposes, customers must manually opt in to this agreement (See CONC section of this Compliance Manual).

IP Addresses

 We may collect information about their computer, including where available their IP address, operating system and browser type, for system administration and to report aggregate information to our advertisers. This is statistical data about our users' browsing actions and patterns, and does not identify any individual.

Cookies

 For the same reason, we may obtain information about a consumer’s general internet usage by using a cookie file which is stored on their browser or the hard drive of their computer. Cookies contain information that is transferred to their computer's hard drive. They help us to improve our site and to deliver a better and more personalised service. Some of the cookies we use are essential for the site to operate.

If they register with us or if they continue to use our site, they agree to our use of cookies.

Please note that our advertisers may also use cookies, over which we have no control.

Cookies can be blocked and a consumer may not be able to access all or parts of our site. Unless a consumer has adjusted their browser setting so that it will refuse cookies, our system will issue cookies as soon they visit our site.

Where we store data

The data that we collect from a consumer is stored within the European Economic Area ("EEA"). Such staff may be engaged in, among other things, the assessment and fulfilment of a consumer’s application, the processing of a consumer’s bank details and the provision of support services. By submitting their personal data, they agree to this transfer, storing or processing.  We will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that a consumer’s data is treated securely and in accordance with this privacy policy.

All information a consumer provides to us is stored on our secure servers. Any transactions will be encrypted. Where we have given (or where they have chosen) a password which enables you to access certain parts of our site, they are responsible for keeping this password confidential. We ask a consumer not to share a password with anyone.

The transmission of information via the internet is never completely secure. Although our systems exceed industry standards for security, and we will always do our best to protect a consumer’s personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of a consumer’s data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at their own risk. Once we have received their information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Disclosure of information

We may disclose a consumer’s personal information to any member of our group, which means our subsidiaries, our ultimate holding company and its subsidiaries, as defined in section 1159 of the UK Companies Act 2006.

We may disclose a consumer’s personal information to third parties:

Credit Reference Agencies (CRAs)

When a customer makes an application for a credit, we will check whether they are likely to be able to meet the monthly payments and repay the loan.  However, we are limited in what we can actually do as we do not work directly with CRA’s as we are not eligible to do so.  We will work with what the applicant divulges on their fact find/application but we can only judge as accurately as the information given allows.

When we submit an application to a lender, it is normal practice for a lender to carry out a credit search with a CRA.  In the past, this would have left a search ‘footprint’ on the applicants’ credit file that may be seen by other lenders. Large numbers of applications made within a short period of time would adversely affect a customer’s ability to obtain credit, and they should always consider this before making an application for a loan.

However, the lenders that we have chosen to deal with offer a facility known as a ‘quotation’ search, which does not leave a footprint. This is in line with CONC 2.5.7 which suggests that during the ‘shopping around’ process of the customer, the lenders that we promote should only use a ‘quotation search’, which does not leave a footprint.

Access to information

The Act gives a consumer the right to access information held about them. Your right of access can be exercised in accordance with the Act. Any subject access request may be subject to a fee of £10 to meet our costs in providing them with details of the information we hold about them.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

 Any changes we may make to our privacy policy in the future will be posted on our web page, and, if appropriate, notified to consumers by e-mail.

Questions, comments and requests regarding this privacy policy are welcomed and should be addressed to moneynerduk (at) gmail.com.

My 5 Question Debt Write Off Assesment SEE IF YOU QUALIFY