When you’re struggling to repay debt it’s difficult to know how to deal with debt collectors, particularly if they take an aggressive approach to recover their clients’ money. Creditors may decide to hand over the process of collecting arrears to an individual debt collector or agency, but won’t necessarily tell you.
Although consumer debt collection agencies are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), some individuals and firms may take a more aggressive approach than others, harassing debtors relentlessly with phone calls, emails, and in-person visits.
If you’re in this situation it’s important to understand your rights, and know that it’s possible to stop debt collector harassment for 30 days. So what is debt collector harassment and how do you stop it?
These are just a few scenarios that would be regarded as harassment:
It’s not acceptable to be harassed by a debt collector, and the best step you can take is to seek official debt help. This could be from a registered debt charity, for example, or an authorised insolvency expert or money adviser in Scotland.
If you approach a charity or other official source for help, the debt collector should give you 30 days’ breathing space in which to obtain the information you need and decide on how to proceed.
This could be by entering Scotland’s Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), for example – a government-backed debt relief programme that helps you escape debt for good. Alternative options might include a Scottish Trust Deed, or in some cases sequestration, which is the Scottish term for bankruptcy.
The acknowledgement that serious debt can negatively affect both physical and mental wellbeing has been welcomed during this challenging time, and residents of England and Wales can benefit from the new Breathing Space scheme that comes into force in 2021.
Although residents of Scotland aren’t eligible for this particular scheme, there is similar support available for Scottish people in debt, in the form of the Scottish Statutory Moratorium. This provides a six-week ‘breathing space’ during which sheriff officers and debt collectors cannot take action.
Sheriff officers check the Register of Moratorium every day, and if your name appears in it they can’t chase the debt or commence legal proceedings. Prior to coronavirus you could only apply for the Statutory Moratorium once in 12 months, but due to the unprecedented levels of debt caused by the pandemic, this limit doesn’t currently apply.
You should still seek specialist advice on the moratorium, however, and whether you should use the option. So the first step in stopping debt collector harassment for 30 days or more is to seek debt help.
Scotland offers a range of solutions to help you deal with unmanageable debt, and we can offer the professional guidance you need to deal effectively with creditor harassment and debt.
Scotland Debt Solutions has been helping Scottish residents to deal with debt since 1989, and will ensure you understand your rights in this situation. Please contact one of the team to arrange a free same-day meeting – we operate a network of offices around the country.
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