Mounting debt is scary and distressing, but it affects a lot of people all over the country. If your debt is spiralling out of control then there’s a chance that a creditor will try and get in touch with you directly, asking for any money you owe. However there’s a thin line between being reasonable and causing unnecessary alarm or humiliation, and there are laws in place to make sure you don’t have to suffer. These recognised guidelines set the standard for creditors and hold them accountable for their actions.
Administration of Justice Act 1970
This act stipulates that creditors, or a creditor’s agent, cannot make demands for money which are intentionally causing “alarm, distress or humiliation, because of their frequency or publicity or manner”. It is a criminal act to do so, and the creditor could face severe consequences if they break this law. It is also an offence if the creditor falsely implies that non-payment of the debt will lead to criminal proceedings, or if they pretend to be someone they’re not, including a court official or bailiff. Finally, this act means that it’s illegal for creditors to send someone a document which looks like it has been sent from a court.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
This act makes it a criminal offence for a creditor to perform an action “which they know, or ought to know, amounts to harassment of another person”. Harassment can take many forms, including repeatedly being sent written warnings about the money that you owe. It can also be verbal, so if the creditor is making numerous calls to your workplace, or to your home in antisocial hours, then they could be seen as harassing.
Debt Collection Guidelines
Debt Collection and Debt Management Guidelines have been produced by the Financial Conduct Authority, which set out the types of debt collection practices which are considered unfair. These guidelines only apply to accounts where payments have been missed or are in arrears, not for routine debt collection. The guidelines provide examples of when contact with customers might be considered unfair, which includes unreasonable times. According to these guidelines the creditor must regard the reasonable requests of customers.
What to do if you think a creditor is harassing you
Those that believe a creditor is acting in a way which breaks these laws or guidelines should raise it with the creditor first. You’ll need to gather evidence, so record the times and contents of visits and calls. It also helps to save all of the threatening letters you may have received, as these could provide more than enough evidence for your case. You can then write a letter of complaint which informs the creditor that you know the guidelines and believe that they are in breach of them. If you ask them to stop then you have to inform them how you’d prefer to be contacted in future, and if the situation doesn’t change then a formal complaint can be made.
If you feel like a creditor is behaving in an overly aggressive way towards you, or if you want advice for any forms of debt, contact Council Tax Advisors today. Our experts can give you all the information you need regarding your financial difficulties, and we’ll be more than happy to speak to you and come up with a payment plan that suits you.