Essential Steps When Debt Collectors Call
There are some essential steps to follow if a debt collector does call. Debt collectors have very limited rights, and there are safety checks to follow when dealing with debt collectors.
Debt Collection Agencies and HarassmentAnyone who has outstanding debts can usually expect a call from a debt collection agency. Credit companies will only allow debts to build up for so long before selling the debt onto a debt collection agency. The main aim of the debt collection agency is to recover the debt that they have bought. There are many reputable debt collection agencies but there are also many who will resort to harassment and intimidation to recover debts. Harassment is against the law and debt collection agencies can be reported if they do use this tactic.
Receiving a Letter from a Debt CollectorThe first step that debt collection agencies will take is to send debt notification letters to the debtor. This will be the first contact and this is when the first safety check should be made. Go online and research the debt collection agency to make sure they are legitimate. Online debt forums are the best way to gain information about debt collectors and the tactics they use. If debtors do not reply to the letter then the collection agency’s next step will be to telephone the debtor.
Safety Check When Dealing with Debt Collection AgenciesOne of the major safety checks when dealing with debt collection agencies is to verify that the debt actually belongs to the debtor. There have been numerous cases of debt collection agencies harassing the wrong people simply because they have the wrong ‘Tom Jones’. Also be aware that identity theft is rife in the UK. Many people are not even aware that their identity has been used by others to rack up huge amounts of debt. People who place their name, full date of birth and home town address on social networking sites are giving thieves a head start to stealing their identity.
Receiving a Telephone Call from a Debt CollectorDebt collectors will telephone debtors if no reply has been given to their initial letter. Again, always ask questions when a debt collector does telephone. Ask questions about the debt; which company the debt was originally from and how much the debt is for. Never be intimidated by debt collectors. If they do use threatening language inform them that you know your rights and will report them to the Office of Fair Trading.
Stopping Debt Collectors from TelephoningIf a debt collector is continually telephoning a debtor at work or at home then this can be classed as harassment. Debtors should inform the collectors that they will no longer tolerate this and that any further contact must be made in writing. If the telephone calls do not stop the debtor should inform the Office of Fair Trading. It is very important that debtors make the debt collectors aware that they know what debt collection agencies can and cannot do. Harassment is against the law and debt collection agencies can lose their licence if they harass debtors.
Debt Collectors and Home VisitsDuring a telephone call a debt collector may inform the debtor that a home visit is to be undertaken on a specified date and time. By simply agreeing to this visit the debtor has given permission for the collector to undertake a home visit. If a debtor does not wish a debt collector to call they should inform the collector of this by telling them they do not permit home visits. If a debt collector does turn up at the debtor’s door this can be classed as harassment.
Making an Arrangement with Debt Collection AgenciesMany debt collection agencies will try to squeeze as much money as they can in repayments from debtors. Debtors should not agree to repayments that they cannot afford. Debtors should only make repayment offers that they can comfortably afford. The debtor should not back down on this matter if the debt collector refuses an offer. Debtors should not be intimidated into paying large amounts. Remember, debt collections agencies buy debts for a tiny percentage of the original debt but will expect the full original debt repayment.
It is not in the best interests of debt collection agencies to take debtors to court; this will cost time and money. Debt collection agencies will often reduce the debt by as much as two thirds if a debtor refuses to pay. Agencies reduce payments simply because they will still make a profit on the debt they have bought. If an arrangement has been made with a debt agency always obtain written notification. More advice on dealing with debt collectors can be obtained from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.