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Debt Companies and Scare Tactics

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 25 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Debt Scare Tactics Debt Collectors Debt

Where disreputable collectors are concerned debt companies and scare tactics do go hand in hand. In most cases the scare tactics these companies use are against the law and the companies can be reported to the proper authorities.

Debt Collection Agencies

Debt collection agencies use scare tactics for one reason only, to get the debtor to pay money owed. No one is advising debtors not to pay their debts but debt collection agencies should never use scare tactics. Debt stress is a serious issue and can lead to very serious mental and physical illness problems. However, some debt collection agencies exist to simply recover debts regardless of the stress factor to the debtor involved.

Common Debt Scare Tactics

Debt companies will use a variety of methods to try and enforce the repayment of debts. Most of these methods are against the law and debt companies are well aware of this. These companies bank on debtors being unaware of their rights when it comes to the methods they can use to recover debts. If debtors do not know their rights and are unaware that these methods are illegal then they will simply allow these companies to continue in this manner. Common debt scare tactics will include:

  • Frequently sending letters to the debtor
  • Frequently telephoning and threatening the debtor at home or at work
  • Calling the debtor outside of regular office hours
  • Threatening the debtor with court action
  • Threatening the debtor with collectors to the debtor’s home
  • Threatening to repossess the debtor’s goods or arrest their wages or threaten bankruptcy
  • Use language that is intended to threaten the debtor

Harassment and Unfair Practice

In fact all of the scare tactics employed above would be deemed harassment by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the debt collection agencies can be reported. Unlike court appointed bailiffs, debt collectors have no actual official powers. Debt collectors do not have the right to harass an individual or turn up on the debtor’s doorstep without permission. Debtors do not have to speak to debt collection agencies if they do not wish to do so. Unless a debt agency has actually been provided with a court order their powers are basically non-existent.

Responding to Threats

There is a very easy way to respond to the scare tactics employed by disreputable debt collectors. If it has come to the point where collectors are continually telephoning then the debtor should stand up to them. Scare tactics or “bully boy tactics” from collection agencies have absolutely no substance other than instilling fear in the debtor. Informing the debt collector that the use of harassment tactics is unacceptable and that they will be reported to the Office of Fair Trading should be enough to stop harassment.

Home Visits

Another very common scare tactic is to threaten the debtor with a home visit from a collector. Again this is harassment and should not be tolerated. The debt collector has no rights whatsoever to make a home visit unless the debtor gives permission. If a collector did turn up on a debtor’s doorstep that have no right whatsoever to gain entry. A common ploy is to telephone the debtor and inform them that a home visit has been arranged on a specific date. By agreeing to the appointment the debtor has given permission for the collector to visit. The debtor should simply say that they know the agency has no right to visit and they will report them to the OFT if they do.

Dealing with Debt Agencies

Debtors should always try to come to some sort of arrangement regarding repayments. A reputable agency will not ask for a repayment that the debtor cannot afford. A disreputable company will not accept the offer made and will ask for unrealistic repayments. If the company does not accept the repayment amount offered then the debtor should seek advice with the Citizens Advice Bureau. The next step may be court action, but if a realistic repayment amount was offered and refused by the company then the law will usually be with the debtor.

It’s a sad truth that there are many disreputable debt collection agencies still using scare tactics to recover debts. Debtors should never feel intimidated by debt collectors. The good companies are there to help and the bad ones that use scare tactics should be reported to the Office of Fair Trading.

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