All debt collectors are known for sending debt collection threats. If you can’t afford to pay them or don’t even owe them money, then this article is for you!
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsmen risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Read on to learn what to do.
Why are debt collectors contacting me?
The debt collection industry is booming. Debt collectors will purchase debt from a lender for often as little as 20% of the face value of what is owed. They then collect the money that is owed and keeping a profit when the payment is made in full.
Debt Collectors may be getting in touch with you because they have purchased debt that you owe to another lender, however, they now manage (and chase payments for) that debt.Wait, is this really money that you owe?
When you are contacted by a debt collection company the first thing that you need to do is to establish where the original debt has come from and the amount that was owed to them. There is a good chance that by the time a debt collector has come to you, there have been a number of charges, not to mention interest added to the amount that you owe. This will take it up to a much higher amount then you originally owed.
Once you know this you should write to the debt collector and ask them to send you a copy of your original credit agreement. If they are unable to provide you with this information, then you have no obligation to make a payment to them. Quite the opposite in fact, you may even be able to set about claiming a refund.
Ok, so the debt is legit, what should I do?
If it is proven that you owe the money, then the simplest path to take is to simply repay the debt. If you can’t afford to repay it there and then, or you think that making future payments could have an impact on your financial future, then try speaking to them to see if you arrange a reduced repayment plan.
Could debt collectors really ruin my life?
Whilst you hope that they would always work on the right side of the law, it is not unusual for debt collection companies to employ tactics that could be seen as questionable. They could resort to bullying, applying pressure, making frequent phone calls.
Some people who have been chased by debt collectors have said that they have had sleepless nights after dealing with them. There are some who have said that they are scared and anxious about opening the door or answering the phone just in case it is them. In fact, debt support trust stated that as many as half of the people in the UK who have had struggles with debt have felt close to suicide. Which is a truly shocking statistic when you think that some of these issues could be caused, or made worse by a debt collection agency.
What are the regulations they need to follow?
With so many debt collection agencies out there and with some of them not employing the best methods to collect money, it comes as no surprise that the Office for Fair Trading has decided to set out a number of guidelines that debt collection businesses have to abide by.
So, what do they need to do?
- They should treat any debtors fairly and never use practices that could be seen as coercive, aggressive or deceitful as well as oppressive, improper or unfair.
- They should provide clear information that is not confusing or misleading
- They should approach debtors who are finding it hard to pay with consideration towards their circumstances
- They should then take into account these circumstances and the situation when talking about making repayments
Are you having dealings with a debt collector? Do you think that they are not abiding by the guidelines that are part of the Office for Fair Trading? If yes then you should definitely report them to the Office for Fair Trading who can then take steps to the removal of their license.
What will they do?
They say that knowledge is power, so, if you want to try to take on and defend yourself against a debt collection agency, then you are going to want to know more about how companies just like this operate and work.
They are on a bonus
One thing to keep in mind that debt collectors are usually working on a bonus. Those people who call you to discuss your debt and try to make payments are working for the bare minimum that they can be paid per hour. However, their wages will be topped up daily or monthly as a part of a bonus scheme that relates to the amount of collections that they have made. This means that the person making the call is going to want to be able to collect the money in order to receive their own bonus.
They may use automated calls
Many people decide to simply ignore the calls that they receive from debt collection companies. Not only is this going to make it much harder to resolve your debt problems, but you may also find that they then employ automated call technology in order to get you to answer. This tech works by making calls to you on an automatic basis, rather than being made by an actual person. If you do happen to answer, then chances are that you are going to find that the other end of the phone line is silent.
It is important that you make a note of the frequency of the calls that are being made to you. It could be that the behavior is deemed a breach of the Office of Fair Trading guidelines and they could find themselves in trouble.
They could try bad cop and good cop
A common tactic that is often employed by debt collection is that of bad cop and good cop and surprisingly it really seems to work. The way that it works is that you will often have dealings with the company concerned where the person on the other end of the phone is rude or unempathetic. Then, when you make an enquiry or speak to a person on the phone another time, they are polite and helpful towards you, throwing you off course. This approach is designed to wear you down and get you even closer to making a payment. It can be one of the hardest of all the approaches to stand up to.
They may try to talk about your financial situation with someone else
An illegal approach to debt collection is to speak to the someone who is not the debtor about the debt. This could be a family member who answers the phone or perhaps a colleague if they answer your work number. Not only does this approach breach the laws set out by the Office of Fair Trading, but it also breaches privacy laws too.
They may lie and be deceitful
There are some debt collection agencies out there that feel that they are above the law and that they don’t have to worry about the regulations that they should adhere to. This means that they then take some rather nasty ways to get their money. They could call you pretending to be a court, they may pretend that they are a bailiff, they may even threaten you with removal of items from your home or with criminal prosecution.
You should never feel threatened and if you do then you are fully within your rights to call the police to report them.
How can I get my debt written off?
Individual Voluntary Agreements or IVAs make it possible for you to write off your debt. This is a formal agreement that you will pay the debt collectors an amount that you can afford or perhaps monthly payments, both of which will ensure that the debt is paid off over a defined period.
Debt collection companies have been asked to abide by the regulations that have been set out for them. Despite warnings from professional bodies there are some out there who are still not sitting within these laws. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, then you may want to speak to the Financial Ombudsman.
John (Money Nerd)