Advice for individuals being chased by debt recovery companies – what are your rights?

  • John Baird -
  • 9th June 2018 -
  • 5 minutes to read

If you are one of the thousands of Scottish people who are struggling with problem debts, you may have also been faced with debt collection agencies chasing you for payment. If this is the case, knowing what your legal rights and options are can make the whole process much less worrying.

Why are debt collection agencies contacting me?

If your creditors do not have the time or resources to chase you for their debts themselves they will pass your debt onto a debt collection agency who will then contact you to try and collect the debt. The creditor–debt collection agency agreement can work in one of two ways:

  • Your creditor will engage the debt collection agency to act on their behalf. This means that you will still be making payments to your original creditor, but that the debt collection agency will take a percentage of these as their fee.
  • Your creditor will sell your debt to the debt collection agency. Your debt will be sold for less than its total amount, but the debt collection agency will still collect the full amount, the difference being their fee. In this case you will be repaying the debt collection agency, not your creditor.

What is the difference between debt collection agents and sheriff officers (bailiffs)?

Sheriff officers have higher levels of legal powers than debt collection agents as they are used exclusively to enforce court orders, whereas debt collection agents are simply instructed to collect debts on behalf of the creditor. In general debt collection agents are able to contact you about a debt, but do not have the legal right to enter your home or remove your possessions.

What powers do debt collection agencies have?

Debt collection agencies are legally allowed to contact you about arranging for the repayment of your debt. They can contact you via phone, email, letter and they can come to your house. However there are a number of legally enforceable rules and regulations that debt collection agents must follow.

Can a debt collection agent force entry into my home?

Debt collectors may only enter your home if you invite them in. This means that they cannot use force or push past you when you open the door. Also even if you have invited them in they must leave as soon as you ask them to.

Can debt collectors take my wages?

A debt collection agency can apply to the court for an Earnings Arrestment Order (EAO) to collect money directly from your wages, but only after you have already had a CCJ in place for some time for which you have not been making your repayments. In this case the process would be handled by the court, not the debt collection agency, and it is the court that decides how much money to take and for how long. Your creditor and debt collection agency are not able to apply for an EAO if you are unemployed, self-employed or are currently serving in the military.

Can debt collectors take my possessions?

No. Debt collectors can only visit your home to discuss repayment, they have no legal rights to take your possessions or even threaten to. In fact even if they mention taking your possessions then this could be considered harassment and could be used as grounds for an official complaint against the debt collection agency.

Can debt collectors ask for money from friends, family or neighbours?

No. Talking to anyone other than the named debtor about the debt is a breach of data protection laws unless you have given them permission to do so.

Can debt collectors take money from your bank account?

In some cases debt collection agencies can apply to the courts to get access to your bank accounts and take back the money that you owe. However this is a complex and lengthy process which requires several separate court applications before your bank accounts can be frozen. If your debt is large enough and the debt collection agency believes that you have the ability to repay it they may think that it is worth pursuing this, but in many cases this is a course of action that debt collection agencies would prefer to avoid.

Will a debt collection agency add more interest and charges to my debt?

This entirely depends on the debt collection agency. In many cases interest and charges will be frozen once the debt is passed over to the debt collection agency, but under some circumstances the agency may continue adding interest and charges. However they can only do this in line with the original credit agreement that you signed.

What can you do if debt collectors are harassing you?

There are a number of actions which can be considered as harassment by debt collection agencies. These include:

  • Saying that they have legal rights and powers which they do not have (see above for some of the most common threats)
  • Contacting you an excessive amount, for example phoning you multiple times throughout the day, late at night or early in the morning or repeatedly coming to your home
  • Using threatening or abusive language

If you feel that you are being harassed by debt collection agencies your first step should be to request that they only contact you in writing in the future. Debt collectors are then obliged to agree and adhere to this. You should also keep records of all of your correspondence with the debt collection agency and if you still feel that they are acting in an unreasonable manner you can complain to either the trade body that they belong to or to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

If you are struggling with problems debts contact the friendly experts at Scotland Debt Solutions today. We can negotiate with your creditors on your behalf and stop debt collection agencies from continuing to contact you. By working with a professional debt resolution company we can help you to take control of your situation and start back on the path to a positive financial future. Get in touch with Scotland Debt Solutions on 0800 063 9250 and let us help to get you out of debt today.

John Baird
John Baird

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