/ Steps for complaining about a debt collection agency

Steps for complaining about a debt collection agency

If a debt collector has been harassing you then you can always report about the way you have been treated.

Debt collectors have to abide by regulatory conduct and treat customers fairly.The FCA consumer credit sourcebook sets out some best practices and guidance which regulated businesses have to follow.

Its states that business should:

  • treat you fairly;

  • be clear about what they are doing; and

  • give you ‘reasonable’ time to repay your debts. What is reasonable will depend on your circumstances. Your creditors may still refuse your offers without breaking the rules or guidance.

The FCA sourcebook stands as a good reference when reporting any financial services business to the ombudsman or making a complaint to the company.

Things Debt collectors cannot do:

In principle 7 “principles for business”, the FCA says "A firm must...communicate information...in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading."

This could mean a lot of things but specifically:

  • Impersonating somebody or a company
  • Over exaggerating their authority
  • Being vague in written communication in order to cause panic
  • Sending letters that look a lot like court claims
  • Making you call them on expensive numbers

The FCA also says “When contacting customers, a firm must not misrepresent its authority or its legal position with regards to the debt or debt recovery process.”

This could mean:

  • Using fake logos
  • Acting like they are a court
  • Acting like they are a bailiff when they are not
  • Acting like they are the police
  • Making you think that they can do things which aren't legally possible e.g enforce a debt by entering your home or seizing your property

The FCA also says “A firm must not pressurise a customer:(1) to pay a debt in one single or very few repayments or in unreasonably large amounts, when to do so would have an adverse impact on the customer's financial circumstances;(2) to pay a debt within an unreasonably short period of time; or(3) to raise funds to repay the debt by selling their property, borrowing money or increasing existing borrowing.”

Essentially this means a firm should not engage in psychological or physical harassment

This includes:

  • Trying to embarass you
  • Threatening you physically or emotionally
  • Forcing you to make lump sum payments
  • Refusing to accept reasonable offers of repayment
  • Preventing you from seeking advice

The FCA also says “A firm must not claim the costs of recovering a debt from a customer if it has no contractual right to claim such costs.”

This one is pretty self explanatory. You should check your credit agreement with your original creditor to ensure they don't have any terms which state that they will charge you the cost of collecting any debt from you.

Steps you should take to report a debt collector

The first thing you should do is to complain to the debt collection company. They should let you know how long they will take to deal with your complaint and provide you a decision at the end of this time.

A sample collection letter.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the complaint then you can take your case to the financial ombudsman. The financial ombudsman is a free service set up by parliament to deal with consumer complaints about financial service businesses.

When you take your case to the ombudsman, the ombudsman will focus on the communications between yourself and the debt collection agency.

You can also simultaneously report the case to the trade bodies the debt collection agency belongs to. The two major ones are the High Court enforcement association and the Civil enforcement association

You can also seek advice from the citizens advice bureau.

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Steps for complaining about a debt collection agency
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