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TV Licence Debt Collection – How to Deal with Them

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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.

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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 1st, 2024
Could you legally write off some debt? Answer below to get started.

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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.

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TV Licence Debt Collection

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.

Are you worried about letters from TV licence debt collectors? You’re not alone. Each month, over 170,000 people visit our website for help with debt questions, just like you.

We know this can be confusing and scary, but don’t worry; we’re here to help. 

In this article, we’ll explain:

  •  Where your TV licence debt might have come from.
  •  How to check if you really need to pay.
  •  What to do if you can’t afford to pay.
  •  How to talk to debt collectors.
  •  How to make sure this does not hurt your credit history.

We understand what you’re going through; some of us have also had letters from debt collectors. It can be very worrying. But remember, you do have options, and we’re here to guide you through them.

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.

TV Licence and the Law 

In the digital age, it can be confusing to know what the laws apply to your TV licence.

Essentially, if you watch or record live TV programmes or download programmes on any device, you need to have a TV licence.

That’s the UK TV licence law.

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. 

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

It can seem like a daunting prospect if you can’t pay 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 ways to arrange payment. You can pay fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or yearly using the Simple Payment Plan for TV Licence.

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

What happens if I don’t pay? 

Consequences of not paying TV licences and still watching TV can be fairly severe.

First,  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.

It means that if you miss payments, the money is 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 typically lasts for 12 months, and there are options to pay in both monthly or quarterly.

Plus, many people use the direct debit options for TV licence payments for convenience.

However, there is 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 you 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 at this stage where you might also receive a fine and/or court action.

I suggest you try to repay what you owe as fast as possible. 

Does my TV licence affect my credit history?

No. You pay for a TV licence upfront. Therefore, it’s not a form of credit which means it can’t impact your credit history.

In short, the impact of TV licence debt on credit history in nil.

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 could consider when it comes to clearing your debt. 

The first thing to think about is seeking advice from a not-for-profit organisation.

Charities give free and independent debt 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 my article on debt options where I 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 could start paying off what you owe.

However, I suggest you seek debt advice from an expert before deciding on which debt solution is best for you.

The wrong debt solution could make your situation worse.

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

TV Licence payment options

Most people spread the cost of the £159 TV Licence to make it easier on their wallets. Setting up a Direct Debit is one of the payment options available.

However, you could pay less if you are:

  • Over 75 years old
  • Blind
  • Living in a Care Home

Other ways to pay include:

  • Monthly Direct Debit payments. You’d pay £26.50 for the first six months and then about £13.25 a month thereafter
  • Quarterly payments are taken 4 times in a given year. It’s worth noting that a £1.25 charge is added to each payment
  • Annual TV licence fee of £159 which is taken automatically every year

Then there’s the TV Licensing payment card where you can pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The cost starts from £6.

You can pay for a TV Licence in the following ways:

  • Cheque
  • Postal order
  • BACS
  • Cash or debit card at a PayPoint

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.

The debt collection agency is now trading under the name of Capita Debt Recovery since 2020.

They are the TV licence debt recovery company that deals with unpaid fees.

They’re an established company, first formed back in 1926. They’re also one of the founding members of the Credit Services Association.

As such, 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. 

Dealing with Akinika is not longer possible as the debt collector now trades as Capita Debt Recovery.

Does Akinika buy customer debt? 

Many debt collection agencies purchase debt from creditors to try and make a profit.

Essentially, it means that they then own your debt, and you owe them whatever you owed the original creditor.

Thankfully, Akinika (now Capita Debt Recovery) doesn’t buy customer debt when it comes to TV licence fees.

So, you can still pay the TV licencing company directly and clear the amount when get a letter from Akinika (Capita Debt Recovery).

In short, it could be the prompt you need to settle your debt

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.

Get started

Reviews shown are for The Debt Advice Service.

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 question that’s often asked about not paying your TV licence is whether a debt collection company can enter your 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 to the debt collection agency 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
  • Have the bailiffs sent around to your home

If the court does appoint a bailiff (enforcement officer) to recover the cost of your debt and fine, they could enter your home and seize your possessions

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

How do I dispute a TV Licence fine?

You can dispute a TV Licence fine by filling out an appeal form and sending it back to the Magistrates Court that convicted you for not having a TV licence.

You must complete the form and send it back within 21 days of a conviction.

In short, there’s a process to appealing TV licence fines that must be followed.

Staying On Top Of Your Debts

One of the hardest parts about being in debt is that the industry isn’t at all transparent.

One common tactic used by Debt Collectors is contacting you under multiple names and addresses.

Sometimes, it’s for practical reasons, but even then it can be confusing and intimidating. So it’s important to try to keep a level head and research what’s going on. 

Some of the biggest debt collectors in the UK operate under multiple names. 

  • Robinson Way will sometimes contact you under the name Hoist Finance. 
  • Cabot Financial Group recently bought Wescot Credit Services
  • Credit Style communicate as both Credit Style and CST Law. 
  • Lowell Financial also owns Overdales and collects debts under both names. 

In fact, in the case of PRA Group, they’ve been known to use multiple company names. As you can see in the image below.

debt collector names

If you’ve been contacted by a debt collector recently, it’s worth going through your post and emails to check that you haven’t missed anything, just in case they’ve started writing to you under a different name.

Case study: TV Licence Prosecution

See this online message one person posted on a popular forum.

Source: Moneysavingexpert

Tips on managing finances

These days it’s hard to keep on top of bills and payments. However, setting a budgetcan help you stay the course when times are hard.

I’ve listed some tips on managing your finances here:

  • Review your budget regularly because bills and living costs tend to increase over time
  • Make a note of when contracts are going to end
  • Reducing expenditure
  • Find out if you can increase your income
  • Cancel subscriptions you don’t need. You can always start them again when your finances permit
  • Shop around for better deals
  • Deal with your priority debts first
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.

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.
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