If you are struggling with debt, then your creditors will use several methods to make sure that you pay your bills. In many instances, one of the final steps they take will be to enlist the services of a debt collector, who will visit you in person to reclaim what is owed.
Preparing for a visit from a debt collector is difficult for many people, not least because there are countless myths concerning what they can and cannot do when they visit your home.
If you have been notified that a you’ll be receiving a visit from a debt collector – either for personal or business debt recovery purposes – this guide will give you better understanding of what you can truly expect.
Why Would You Be Visited by a Debt Collector?
If you’re in debt, your creditor will usually try to reclaim the money you owe through a variety of different methods, such as formal letters and phone calls. If these prove to be unsuccessful, and you haven’t shown any signs of repaying the debt, they may decide to enlist a debt collector to contact you or visit your home.
Debt collectors may work directly for your creditor, or they may work for a third-party agency.
What Does a Debt Collector Do?
A debt collector will contact you, or visit you in person, with the aim of discussing the details of your debt and to make an arrangement for it to be paid off. In certain circumstances, they can also arrange for the debt to be paid directly to them.
Debt collectors don’t have any special legal powers to claim the debt and will always try to work cooperatively rather than using any sort of force.
However, if you aren’t seen to be making an effort to repay a debt following a visit from a collector, they may be able to take legal action against you. This might include applying for a County Court Judgement (CCJ), and failure to pay a CCJ could then lead to bailiff action.
The majority of debt collectors are members of trade bodies such as the Credit Services Association, which means they are held to certain standards.
Debt Collector Myths
So, what sort of myths are there regarding debt collectors? Here are just some of the most common you may have already heard in the past…
Debt Collectors Can Enter Your Home Without Permission
Contrary to popular belief, debt collectors cannot enter your home if you do not give them permission to do so. In fact, you don’t have to open the door, or speak to them at all – if you ask them to leave, they will have to do so.
This isn’t necessarily the best approach, though. Debt collectors will always try to work alongside you to pay a debt – rather than against you – and failing to cooperate with them will lead to a CCJ and bailiff action.
Debt Collectors Can Immediately Repossess Your Belongings
Debt collectors will not forcefully take any of your belongings to repay the debt. As you now know, debt collectors are unable to enter your home without permission in the first place and, if you do decide to let them in, they cannot then take anything away from you to pay the debt. They cannot take anything outside your home either, such as your car.
You may be able to work with a debt collector to make alternative suggestions for repaying the debt. For example, offering certain possessions can work, but this will be a discussion only you and the debt collector can have.
Debt Collectors Are the Same as Bailiffs
Debt collectors and bailiffs are completely different. Unlike debt collectors, bailiffs do have special legal powers to reclaim debts and will usually be instructed following a CCJ.
Again, bailiffs won’t have the ability to force their way into your home but, if you do let them in, they have the power to repossess your belongings to repay the debt. They can also take other items outside your home without your permission.
Debt Collector Realities
Now we know which rumours are nothing more than myths, what does the reality of a debt collector visit look like?
A Debt Collector Can Turn Up Unannounced
If a debt collector plans to visit you in person, they can do so without any prior notice. In many cases they will try to get in touch with you via phone or email before they visit you, but there is nothing preventing them from showing up at your doorstep unannounced.
This is usually done to help ensure you’re home when they visit, so arrangements can be made.
Debt Collectors Will Have Proof of Identification
Many people are, reasonably, sceptical about the legitimacy of debt collectors. As we all know, it’s easy for people to pose as someone they’re not and to take advantage of your situation. That’s why debt collectors always have official identification and documentation to prove they are who they say they are.
If a supposed debt collector visits you and isn’t able to provide and ID, you should not speak with them any further or make any arrangements.
Debt Collectors Will Usually Prioritise Making a Payment Schedule
For the vast majority of debt collectors, their priority won’t be to reclaim the debt on the spot. If you’re able to repay what’s owed, then that will be welcomed, but debt collectors usually have much more realistic expectations about what they will be able to claim.
They should be more than happy to speak about a sensible schedule for repaying the debts, which will prove to be beneficial for all parties in the long run.
Are You Awaiting a Visit from a Debt Collector?
Hopefully this post has given you a clearer understanding of what you can actually expect if you’re anticipating a visit from one. As you can see, you need not worry about some of the worrying myths!
Have you got any more pieces of advice for anyone who may have to deal with a debt collector? Feel free to leave a comment below with your own suggestions!