It’s a well-known fact that being a debt collector and announcing said fact publicly, will almost always elicit a response along the lines of “where is your baseball bat ha ha” or “do you really go into people’s houses?” whilst sidling away, eyes darting frantically for the exit! The pre-conception of what a modern day debt collector does, does not appear to have moved on very far from the type of scene you’d picture in a Krays movie! Makes networking events very interesting though!
So, let’s put some of the most common assumptions and beliefs to bed, so we can all sleep easier!
- Collectors will come to your house - Most collection activity is performed by letter, email and phone, this is not only more practical and cost effective for the collection agency, but less intrusive and embarrassing for the customer. Sending an agent to the door is a last resort, no-one wants that hassle. That said, most agency’s won’t hesitate to send one if they are continually ignored.
- A Collection Agent can just turn up and take goods to repay the debt, right? Well no, only a Bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer can do that and they must have a Court Order allowing it, something you will know is being sought long before it happens, giving you time to nip the situation in the bud by talking to your creditors before they resort to legal action. A doorstep collector will call to discuss the situation and cannot remove goods.
- You shouldn’t ring or respond to letters or messages because you simply haven’t got the money they are asking for, so what’s the point - Pah! Today’s creditors are very enlightened into the root causes for indebtedness, they understand that there are many different, often unexpected, circumstances and reasons that can cause a person to find themselves owing money and then being chased for it. Creditors now train staff to employ tactics to identify such circumstances even when a customer is reluctant to share allowing the customer the time to fully explain and the creditor to offer a suitable solution that works for both parties. Creditors now understand that collecting money owed is not a race as to who can do it fastest but who can do it safest and offer the most protection at the same time.
- I’ll offer a pound a month and they’ll have to accept that – again, not true, an offer that is backed by a detailed income and expenditure form will be considered. It will be checked against figures considered to be acceptable to ensure that the outgoings tally with the number of individuals and can still be challenged if it appears in anyway to be incorrect. If you make an offer, make it an honest one, one you know and can show you can afford…then it will likely be accepted.
- The debt is Statute Barred so I don’t have to pay it – The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the rules on how long a creditor to take certain actions against you to recover a debt. The time limits do not apply to all types of recovery action and are different depending on the type of debt that you have, but even if the debt has become genuinely stat barred it won’t necessarily be written off. A creditor could still continue collection activity, pass the debt to an outside agency or even sell it on.
- If I ignore them they’ll go away – no, the numbers of debt purchasers is growing considerably and debts can be sold on multiple times, referred out to various agencies multiple times. If you do not respond they will continue to write and ring and write and ring and write and ring and maybe even send a doorstep collector to your house to speak to you.
- If I ‘forget’ to tell them my new address I’ll not hear from them again – it is very hard to stay off the radar simply by moving house, even a cursory trace on the internet can yield interesting results, social media is rich with data and simple searches such as voters roll searches are routinely instigated at a small cost. You’ll pop up somewhere at some point!
- All debt collectors are hard-hearted monsters and wish you harm – most definitely not true! We do not have baseball bats, broken noses (well I do but that’s a whole other story) nor skulk about when it’s dark. We have creditors exactly the same as you, only we are lucky enough to know the consequences of ignoring them and not paying… or not trying to pay.
So, in essence, paying your debts when you are in genuine, demonstrable financial difficulties, is a negotiated process, one where you put in and have a say, this then determines the course of the debt….simples!
This article is provided for general information only. Please do not make any decision on the basis of this article alone without taking specific advice from us. stevensdrake will only be responsible for the advice we give which is specific to you.