Many of us take the cost of our TV licence for granted. It’s just another expense that needs to be covered each year. However, if you’re struggling financially, it can be tempting to simply skip this bill and hope that no one finds out. In doing so, you risk being contacted by a TV licence debt collection company, as well as a receiving a hefty fine. To help you out, we take a look at everything you need to know about dealing with TV licence debt collection. 

It’s not your fault. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.

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TV Licence and the Law 

In the digital age, it can be confusing to know what the laws are surrounding your TV licence. Essentially, if you watch or record live TV programmes or download programmes on BBC iPlayer, you need to have a TV licence. If you do either of these things without a TV licence, it is a criminal offence. 

Confusingly, even if you don’t own a TV, but you still watch/download programmes on your phone, computer or tablet, you’ll still need to have a valid TV licence. If you’re still not sure whether you need one, you can check out the official FAQ page for further answers. 

Don’t worry, here’s what to do

You could get rid of debt collectors by writing off your debt. I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator which will tell you if you’re eligible:

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This 4 question debt calculator will tell you if you’re eligible.

What is the total amount of your debt?

What happens if I don’t pay? 

The consequences for not paying your TV licence and still watching TV can be fairly severe. Firstly,  you risk prosecution. This can mean that you’re issued a fine of up to £1,000, as well as any court costs you incur. 

If you don’t pay your TV licence, there’s also a chance that your account will go into debt collection. This means that if you miss payments, this money will be added to the amount you owe. You’ll still need to keep making payments if you want to stay licenced. 

How long do I have to pay? 

Your TV licence usually lasts for 12 months, although there are options to pay in both monthly or quarterly direct debits. However, there is usually an extra cost involved with these options. If you miss a payment, you’ll usually have a grace period before they pass your account over to debt collectors. If you miss several months’ worth of payment, they may then start pursuing your fairly forcefully. 

Once your TV licence debt is passed over to a collection agency, they will do everything they can to get you to pay. It’s as this stage where you might also receive a fine and/or court action. You’re best to repay what you owe as fast as possible. 

Find your best debt solution

debt solution

Is all this information starting to feel overwhelming? Don’t panic! I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator so you can quickly and easily find the best solution for you. Answer the four questions now.

Who is Akinika Debt Recovery? 

If you don’t pay what you owe for your TV licence, you may find that you’re contacted by a company called Akinika. They are the TV licence debt recovery company that deals with unpaid fees. We’ve got a whole article about Akinika that you can read if they’ve contacted you. 

 They’re an established company, first formed back in 1926. They’re also one of the founding members of the Credit Services Association, meaning they’re a company that knows how to reclaim debt. They’re not a company that you want to tangle with if you can help it. 

Does Akinika buy customer debt? 

Many debt collection agencies purchase debt from creditors to try and make a profit. Essentially, this means that they then own your debt, and you owe them whatever you owed the original creditor. This means that the initial company gets some money for your debt, and the collection agency profits the difference. 

Thankfully, Akinika doesn’t buy customer debt when it comes to TV licence fees. So, this means that you can still pay the TV licencing company directly and clear the amount you owe. If you do get a letter from Akinika, it could be the prompt you need to settle your debt. 

Can TV licence debt collection companies visit my home? 

Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.

One questions that’s often asked about not paying your TV licence is whether a debt collection company can enter you home. The answer is no, they can’t, not without your permission. However, they can visit your property and ask you to repay what you owe. 

There are other considerations too. If you refuse to speak with Akinika or the TV licencing company, you might find that they try and escalate the situation further. This could mean that you get a hefty fine, have to appear in court, and could mean the bailiffs are sent round. 

If the court does appoint a bailiff to recover the cost of your debt and fine, they might be able to enter your home and seize your possessions. 

What if I can’t pay for my TV licence? 

It can seem like a daunting prospect if you can’t pay for your TV licence. However, the worst thing you can do is skip payments or ignore the problem. This is when they call in debt collectors and try and take court action. Instead, you should take the initiative and contact the TV licencing company

There are many ways you can arrange a payment. You can pay as little as £6 per week, as well as fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. These host of options make it as easy as possible to pay for your fees. 

What if I can’t pay my debt? 

Of course, even the smallest additional payment can seem impossible if you’re already struggling financially. If that’s the case, then there are some options you can consider when it comes to clearing your debt. 

The first thing to think about is some not-for-profit organisation. These can help give free and independent advice. Organisations such as StepChange and National Debtline are good places to start. You can also check out Citizens Advice for an in-person meeting. For financial solutions, there are also several options available. For starters, you check out our article on debt options. Here, we look at a range of solutions that can help you clear your debts. Whether it’s an IVA, debt consolidation loan, or debt management plan, you can soon start paying off what you owe.

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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