Usually, if you miss payments on your debts, creditors will get in touch by phone or letter. Occasionally, though, a creditor might choose to send a debt collector to your home. Debt collectors may work directly for your creditor, or be employed by a separate debt collection agency. These collectors are not bailiffs or sheriff officers, and do not have the same powers. Your creditor must inform you in advance if they plan to send a debt collector to your home.
Although it is very rare for debt collectors to visit it can be intimidating if they do, so it is important to know your rights.
Debt collectors can:
- Visit your home
- Ask you to make payment towards your debt
- Discuss your debt, and try to arrange payment
Debt collectors cannot:
- Visit you at your place of work
- Act in a threatening or intimidating manner towards you
- Force their way into your home
- Refuse to leave when you asked
- Take your belongings or clamp your car
- Claim to be a bailiff – this is a criminal offence
- Speak to your neighbours, family, or housemates about your debt
If you are visited by a debt collector, always be sure you ask to see ID, and make a note of their name. You also retain the right to ask them to leave if you choose, and they cannot refuse. It is important to remember that debt collectors have limited powers compared to bailiffs. Bailiffs have the authority to enter your property without your consent in some cases – in order to collect a criminal fine, taxes, or to remove goods as part of a Controlled Goods Agreement.
Being aware of your rights is vital to ensure you are equipped to make the best decisions should you come into contact with debt collectors, sheriff officers, or bailiffs. Find out more about what you can do in these circumstances below.