Are you being chased by a debt collector?

 

If you owe someone a substantial amount of money, and your relationship with that person has broken down, there is every chance they will employ a debt collector. You should understand what they can and can't do.

What to do if you are in debt

Firstly, if you have a debt that debt collectors contact you about, they must always behave within the law. If you feel you have been harassed by debt collectors during the course of their duties, you should report this to your local authority. Any physical violence you have suffered at the hands of debt collectors should be reported to the police as this is a criminal offence.

Secondly, debt collectors are not the same as bailiffs - debt collection agencies cannot, for instance:

  • Enter your home
  • Seize property to help pay off your debts in the same way that a bailiff can

All debt collectors must follow a strict set of guidelines when carrying out their duties. These guidelines are in the pamphlet ‘Debt collection guidance’ that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has produced.

Any County Court Judgements (CCJs) that you have received that have also resulted in a warrant of execution will also give debt collectors the right to contact you to recover the debt. You can stop this happening by completing form N245 that your local county court can give you. You must keep up the payments you have agreed to by completing this form, or debt collectors will again look into your case.

What to do if you need to recover a debt

Solicitors dealing with debt collection can help with recovering a debt that you have not managed to claim through the normal channels. Often a letter from a firm of solicitors is enough to spur a non-payer into action and this is usually the first course of action by a solicitor when they are instructed. 

If the debtor continues to evade the debt you may need to issue proceedings at court. Your solicitor will help you:

  • To complete the relevant claim form
  • Gather the relevant evidence
  • Send the claim form and evidence to the correct court

Debt collection solicitors will ensure that relevant protocols are adhered to and will accompany you to court. In the event the case is heard in the county court, your solicitor is likely to perform advocacy themselves. In the High Court, where more complicated cases are heard, your solicitor may instruct a barrister to perform advocacy, though the solicitor will still be present.

It may be that there is a form of alternative dispute resolution or mediation that is more appropriate for you to use in debt collection. Solicitors will be able to talk to you about these alternatives to solving your case and explain the benefits and disadvantages of each method.

For example, many dispute resolution methods will be cheaper as court costs and barristers fees will not have to be paid; however some methods are not binding and can result in you needing to attend court anyway, therefore unnecessarily prolonging the case and increasing costs.

For more information on recovering debt, see our page: how to get the money you are owed.

Do you need help recovering a debt? Are you in debt and are unsure which way to turn? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist financial advisor who can help resolve any issues relating to debt and debt management. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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