What Rights Does a Debt Collection Agency Have?
Being approached by debt collectors can be a scary and intimidating encounter, that we hope you never experience.
To get what they want, debt recovery agents might try to mislead you into situations and persuade you to agree to payments or handovers, that by law, is not compulsory. If a debt agency is chasing you, you must understand your rights so they can’t use any dishonest and illegal scare tactics.
The first thing to bear in mind is that a debt recovery agency or agent is different from debt enforcement or a bailiff, and the debt collectors have considerably less authority.
Debt collection companies have the same limited legal powers as the lender, and the initial stages of contact should be via letter, phone calls, emails and texts etc.
Although the letters may mention a future court case if you do not pay, it is legal for debt collectors to lie and exaggerate their judicial powers.
So, if a lender refers your case to a debt collection services, what are their rights?
Can Debt Collectors Come to your House
A collector, whether working directly for your lender or a private debt collector, is allowed to visit you at home. However, there is a set of limitations on what can be achieved from this doorstep visit.
Firstly, if a recovery agent pretends to be a bailiff or a sheriff, you might be able to take legal action as this can be a criminal offence.
It’s common for debt collectors to contact you via phone call or mail instead face-to-face debt collection. But, if they do visit, you are under no obligation to answer the door and let them into your home.
If you ask a debt collector to show proof of ID or leave your property, they must comply. They are also not permitted to take any goods from your house.
Most importantly, you don’t have to make any cash payments to the debt recovery agency. We recommend that you call the collection agency to arrange a standing order for an amount that you can afford. If you can afford to pay the lump sum to the agency, it might be best to do so, to clear your name. If you pay money directly debt collector at your doorstep, demand to see their ID beforehand and obtain a receipt.
Can Debt Collectors Take Your Stuff
No persons from a debt recovery service are allowed to enter your home, or take any of your belongings; this also includes clamping your car. Bailiffs are a different story; they are permitted to remove items belonging to the debtor. If a debt collector is at your doorstep, they cannot take your possessions without consent, and you are not legally required to grant permission to do so.
How Long Can I Be Chased For A Debt in the UK
Turning a blind eye to debt is never advised; this isn’t what we’re here to do. Unpaid debts can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, headache and heartache to the debtor, and so it is best to manage the situation at the earliest convenience.
With that said, your creditor is legally permitted to chase the debt for quite some time and using a variety of means and methods, including debt collectors and bailiffs.
Under the Limitation Act 1980, your creditor is legally allowed to chase any unpaid unsecured debts for six years and double this for any mortgage shortfalls at twelve years.
Considering a creditor can pressure you into making payments with regular phone calls and letters, six years with unpaid debts might feel like a lifetime.
The ‘limitation period’ for a debt doesn’t include the total time you have been making payments. The limitation period only starts after your last payment or acknowledgement of the debt. It is also providing you have not admitted the debt in writing within the 6 or 12 year period, and you have not had a CCJ against you. Where the creditor has registered a County Court Judgement against you, the limitation period cannot be enforced at all.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay the Debt Collection Agency
While we don’t believe that you should pay money to whoever turns up at your doorstep, we do encourage you to pay any debts. If you prefer, we recommend kindly refusing any payments to the debt recovery agent at your home and contacting the creditor directly.
Calling the creditor allows you to verify the debt, be sure where your money is going and enables you to set up a payment plan that you can afford.
You are not obliged to make any payments to the debt collection agency that turns up at your home. However, if you also choose not to pay the creditor back, you could find yourself in hot water. The creditor will consistently chase the debt, you could discover bailiffs turning up at your home, and you could be inflicted with a County Court Judgement.
If you have debt collectors on your case, but you are struggling to find the funds to pay, you should consider a debt consolidation loan. A debt consolidation loan will allow you to bid goodbye to the debt collection agency appearing at your home, while enabling you to make comfortable monthly repayments that you can afford. If you have any queries about how we can help, call us today on 0333 577 5626, or complete our online contact form and an expert will be in touch.