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What Rights Do Debt Collectors Have? 

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By
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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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.

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.

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what rights do debt collectors have

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 concerned about a letter from a debt collector? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Every month, over 170,000 people visit our website for help with debt problems.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  •  How to find out if the debt is really yours. If it’s not, you don’t have to pay!
  •  If you can say ‘no’ to the debt collector or just ignore them.
  •  How to make the debt collector stop bothering you too much.
  •  Ways to set up a plan to pay the money back, or even get some of the debt written off.

Our team knows how scary it can be when debt collectors are after you: some of us have been in the same situation. That’s why we’ve created this guide that will help you learn more about your rights and how to deal with debt collectors under 2023 UK laws.

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.

What Rights Does a Debt Collector Have? 

The legal rights of debt collectors in the UK can seem complicated.

One common misconception I see a lot of debtors having is that they confuse debt collectors with bailiffs. Debt collectors have no extra-legal powers as bailiffs do. They are not allowed to force their way into your home, nor are they allowed to take your possessions in order to make up for your debts. 

If they visit your home, they are not allowed to take money from you forcibly. In fact, you do not even have to open the door for them if you don’t want to. If you ask them to leave the premises, they will have to oblige according to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidelines

If a debt collector refuses to leave or visits your home again after you specifically asked them not to, you have the right to report them to the FCA. 

Debt collectors do, however, have the right to ask you about your payments if the debt you owe is valid. It’s not a good idea to ignore a debt collection agency when they are trying to contact you regarding your debt.

Keep in mind that while a debt collector has the right to contact you via a phone call, they aren’t allowed to call excessively, unreasonably, or persistently.

This means that, generally, debt collectors certainly have the right to call you between 9 am to 5 pm, but calling you at 10 pm or 20 times on the weekend will be taken as harassment! If you receive a call from a debt collector at any other time, you can report them to the FCA. 

Debt collection agencies also have the right to get a court order against you. However, you must keep in mind that this is usually a last resort for a typical debt collection agency. 

It usually happens when you have been missing payments for a long time and the creditor that hired the agency is dissatisfied with it. The creditor can then ask the agency to pursue court action against you. 

What Rights Does the Consumer Credit Act Give Me?

The Consumer Credit Act is a piece of legislation that sets out most commercial lending in England and Wales. It lays out some strict rules which dictates what creditors must do when lending or collecting money.

The debts that the Consumer Credit Act covers are called regulated debts and include:

  • Store cards
  • Credit cards
  • Store finance
  • Personal loans
  • Payday loans
  • Hire purchase
  • Catalogues.

Keep in mind that there is an upper limit on the debts taken out before 2008 that are covered by the Consumer Credit Act in the tens of thousands of pounds.

Regulated debts are offered more protections than unregulated debts, generally meaning that your creditor has to follow a strict procedure to chase or collect your debts.

If you would like more information, several debt charities have detailed information about the Consumer Credit Act and will be able to give you an informed understanding of your debts and options. I have linked some charities at the bottom of this page.

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

Harassment by Debt Collectors and Creditors 

It can definitely be difficult to identify when the actions of a collector may fall under harassment. However, I urge that you be familiar with your rights so that you are able to protect yourself from being treated unfairly at the hands of collectors. The following actions fall under harassment: 

  • Contacting you via phone several times in a single day or at irregular hours. 
  • A debt collection agency using more than one debt collector to pursue you for the same debt. 
  • Your creditor is obligated to inform you if they have hired a debt collection agency to pursue you. If your creditor does not inform you of this before you are contacted by a debt collector, this counts as harassment. 
  • Contacting you on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 
  • Pressurising you to sell your valuable assets such as your home in order to be able to pay your debt. 
  • Pressuring you to pay the money off as a lump sum or in larger monthly payments than you are able to afford. 
  • Using letters or forms that are designed to deceive you. For example, some debt collection agencies use letters that are made to look like official court forms. 
  • Threatening you verbally or physically.
  • Attempting to embarrass you in a public space. 
  • Pretending to be a bailiff or any other kind of enforcement agent that has extra-legal powers. 
  • Speaking to anyone other than you about your debts. Debt collectors are not allowed to discuss or divulge information about your debts to anyone other than you. 
  • Implying that court action has been taken against you when it hasn’t. Lying about the fact that they are considering court action when they really aren’t is also a serious offence. 
  • Implying or acting as if you not being able to pay your debts is a criminal offence. In most cases, being unable to pay your debts is not a criminal offence. In fact, you can seek the help of a debt charity if you feel you can’t pay off your debts. They will assess your financial information and situation to set up a plan for you that would help you get out of debt. 
  • Taking any of your possessions or property without telling you. Even if they do tell you, it does not matter as debt collectors don’t have the authority to do this. If a debt collector does this or even implies that they are going to do this, you can report them to the FCA or even sue them in court. 

What Should I Do if a Debt Collector Does Something That They Do Not Have the Right to Do? 

Understanding the role of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is easy – their role, as far as you’re concerned, is to protect you from unfair debt collection practices.

If you feel that a debt collector has acted inappropriately or has violated FCA guidelines, you can opt to take action against them. Dealing with harassment from debt collectors and creditors or any other unfair behaviour is not pleasant!

The very first thing you should do is collect evidence. This is going to be very important if you expect to win your dispute against the collector. Evidence can be in the form of letters or documents. It can also be in the form of voice notes, phone recordings, and also witness testimony by your neighbours, housemates, friends, etc. 

Once you’ve gathered all the evidence, you should send a copy of it to the debt collector in question. Give them all of the information you’ve gathered and ask them to stop what they are doing. 

Point out to them that you know what they are doing is in direct violation of FCA guidelines, and they don’t have the right to do that. Ask them to send a confirmation in writing that they will cease their harassment. Always remember to keep copies of the evidence for yourself as well. 

If they stop harassing you after that, that’s great, but if they don’t, the only option you have left is to complain to a professional body. You can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can also complain to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

How Do I Report Unethical Behaviour?

Reporting the unethical behaviour of debt collectors is important – it will help prevent this from happening to you or any other customers again.

If you think that your debt collection company has been unreasonable or behaved inappropriately, you can make a complaint. You can also make a complaint if you feel that they have broken any of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) guidelines.

Make your first complaint to the debt collection company directly so that they have the chance to sort out the issue themselves. If you feel that they have not taken your complaint seriously enough or have not addressed your issue properly, you can escalate matters.

You can make any secondary complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). They will investigate and, if your complaint is upheld, the debt collection company may be fined. You could even be owed compensation.

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.