How to Deal With Creditor Harassment
Here’s a classic situation for you: You, a debtor, owe a creditor a sum of money. 9 times out of 10 you’ll be dealing with financial troubles at the time, otherwise the payment would’ve been made by now. Next, you inform the creditor of your situation—but they don’t care: all they want is payment. This age-old scenario can quickly turn ugly and the line between ‘chasing’ and ‘harassing’ can become blurred. In this blog post, we’ll be explaining how to deal with creditors and what constitutes creditor harassment.
What to Do When Approached by Creditors
When dealing with outstanding payments, you’ll most likely receive a letter from your creditor. The first thing you should do is find out if the debt is legitimate: never pay unless you’re certain the debt is yours.
If you don’t recognise the company labelled on the letter, it could be a debt collection agency that’s purchased your debt. Either way, you are well within your rights to ask for proof that the debt is yours and confirm how much you owe.
To find out if the company is legitimate, search the name on the Companies House website. This will give you all the information you need to verify the company and assure that you’re dealing with a legitimate creditor.
What Happens if You Ignore Them?
If you ignore your creditors’ attempts to contact you, the problem could escalate. Legally, a creditor has up to 6 years to chase most unsecure or unpaid debts (up to 12 years for some mortgage debts). The start date of this timespan begins at the date of your last payment, or when you first acknowledged the debt.
If you choose to ignore your creditors, they are well within their rights to take court action against you. This will only put you in further financial problems, so it’s best to make contact with your creditors and work out a strategy to ensure payment is made.
What Constitutes Creditor Harassment?
The occasional letter from creditors can eventually turn into regular phone calls, and eventually even knocks on the door. This can cause people anxiety and put them in a difficult position—especially if the creditors are demanding impossible sums of money.
Although there are no official laws in place as to how often a creditor may contact you, there are generally accepted limits. Understanding what creditors can and can’t do will make you more comfortable when dealing with them.
What Creditors Aren’t Allowed to Do
It is generally accepted that creditors aren’t allowed to contact you or visit your home at unreasonable times of the day. Calls before 8am are too early and calls after 9pm are too late. Additionally, if you’re someone who works night shifts, you should inform your creditors and demand that they not contact you during certain hours of the day.
Creditors are not allowed to visit your place of work without you giving them specific permission to do so. They’re also not allowed to discuss your outstanding debts with employers, employees, neighbours, family or friends. Not so long ago, tactics like these were used to embarrass or intimidate the debtor and pressure them into making payment.
UK Laws on Home Visits
Home visits from creditors can be an unpleasant experience and can make many people feel pinned down and anxious. It’s important to deal with the situation professionally and ensure that no laws are broken on either side.
For home visits, creditors must state the reason for their visit upon arrival as well as the intended outcome of the visit. They must also provide you with adequate notice of the date and time of their visit.
Creditors aren’t allowed to act in a threatening or pressurising way. They can’t pretend to be bailiffs or enforcement agents, and they certainly can’t force their way into your home or refuse to leave when asked to do so if already inside.
They should never pressure you into paying larger payment instalments than you can afford or set impossible payment deadlines. They can’t pressure you into selling your home or take out more credit to pay your debts, and they definitely can’t seize any of your possessions, clamp your car, etc.
Dealing with creditors doesn’t have to be daunting as long as you know where you and they stand legally. The vast majority of creditors will act in a perfectly professional manner, yet it’s good to know exactly what constitutes creditor harassment so you can call it out as soon as you see it.
Silver Insolvency Solutions
Stephen Silver is an insolvency specialist with over 40 years of experience on the job. If you’re someone dealing with outstanding debt, concerned with cash flow or facing the prospect of bankruptcy, a limited free consultation with Silver Insolvency Solutions could be of enormous benefit to you.