There are two different types of Debt Collectors, with very different powers of dealing with a debt. A Debt Collector is not court-appointed, and at no time should they in anyway give the impression that they have the powers of Bailiff Enforcement Agent. A Bailiff is an agent of a court, following up on Enforcement Notice issued by the court which adjudged that you owe debt to the creditor who took the court action – normally through County Court or High Court – depending upon the sum owed.
A Bailiff can ultimately seize your goods for sale; a debt collector cannot (unless working on behalf of the HMRC Vat or other similar government agency.)
A Debt Collector normally works for a debt collection agency – or alternatively be a private individual hired by the person or company to which you owe debt.
Before taking some of the evasive steps to deter or delay a debt collector or payment of your debt, you should be aware that your creditor will be entitled to add interest on the outstanding debt, and also any reasonable costs they incur in trying to get their money. So any form of delay, could cost you extra added to your debt.
A debt collector is limited to the same powers as your creditor – the person or organisation to whom you owe money. They are restricted to asking you to pay the debt. They have no legal powers of entry to your home, of good seizure, or any means other than asking you to pay the debt owed.
In doing so, they are entitled to call visit your house, to call your phone or to write to you asking for payment. Debt collectors are not allowed to use any method of force or harassment, and are subject to the ruled of the Financial Services Authority as to how they can pursue you.
At first contact, the debt collector will have to show you who they are collecting the debt for and exactly how much it is. If you say you cannot, or will not, pay they are not allowed to threaten you in any other way other than perhaps telling you that failure to pay could involve you in further costs if your creditor decides to take out a court summons.
It may be that the debt collector has legally bought the debt from your creditor, in which case they are trying to collect money that is owed to themselves. The rules remain the same. They can persuade, but very little else.
For your part you need to accept that you do actually owe someone some money, and do something about it to prevent court action being taken out against you.
Debt collectors can only used methods of persuasion, which means being civil and non-threatening. They are not empowered to take anything from your house, nor list anything for possession, nor attach any sticker or paperwork to any of your goods either in your house or within your house boundary. They cannot clamp your car – such as a bailiff might do. If they refuse to leave your property when you tell them, they are then causing you harassment and also trespassing.
A debt collector is really confined to the ‘powers’ that your creditor would have if they phone you asking you to pay!
In short, a debt collector has no way of taking money from you, other than by asking you. They have no ‘back-up’ actions or threats they can use. Persuasion is their only choice. It has to be persuasion and not any kind of threat other than informing you what the actual consequences of not paying might be. They cannot instruct any agent or bailiff to collect on their behalf, and should not pretend that they have any powers of collection of goods seizure other than by asking you to pay.
They may use bluff (illegally) or suggest further actions they may take, but these should not be made in any form of harassing manner. They can call again, or contact you by phone or letter, but there should not be any form of intimidation.
Debt collectors are not allowed to discuss your debt with any neighbour, friend and certainly not with your employer, nor bank.