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Debt Collection Companies – What are your rights

If you are having debt problems, the original creditor may involve a debt collection agency. This usually works in one of two ways: they will either sell the debt on to them or hire them and then pay them a percentage once the debt has been collected.

There are many debt collection agencies in the UK, small and large. No matter the size of the company or whether they own the debt or are just working on behalf of the creditor, your rights remain the same.

Debt collection agencies don’t have any special legal powers; they are not bailiffs. And that is key to remember.

The main ways collection agencies will contact you is via letters and phone calls. They can only contact you at home or on a mobile – they cannot contact you at your place of work or talk to your family or friends.

Being contacted by a collection agency is worrying and they may threaten to take court action or send someone to your home. Agencies are not allowed to lie or mislead you about their powers. They are also not allowed to excessively contact you – if you feel this is the case you are able to make a complaint.

Collection agencies have to treat you fairly, that means:

* Not using legal or technical terms to confuse you

* Not taking payments without permission

* Not giving you information about your account when you ask for it

* Not adding unreasonable charges

Although they can take you to court this usually isn’t implemented if they know you are seeking help with your debts and willing to pay what you can manage. You will usually be asked to pay back the debt in full or in large instalments. But only offer what you can realistically afford.

Some agencies may send a ‘doorstep collector’ to your house. This can be very frightening – but you need to remember that you always have rights. If someone turns up to your home know:

* They are not a bailiff (enforcement agent). Pretending to be one of these can be a criminal offence

* You can ignore them and not open the door

* They must provide proof of ID

* They must leave if you ask them to

* They can’t take anything from your house

* You don’t have to make cash payments to them. You can call the company later and set up a standing order at an amount you can afford. If you do make any payments, make sure you get a receipt

* Adding unreasonable charges

Letters or calls from a collection agency are a warning sign that your debts are getting out of control. That means you should get sensible debt advice now.

Hawkins Insolvency want to find you a sensible solution to your debt problems. There is no shame in asking for help. Nobody needs to face these difficulties alone.

Call us on 01656 661426 for a confidential chat and FREE consultation, to see what your options are.

Please note: This article is a commentary and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation

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