There is a lot of confusion surrounding the world of bailiffs, enforcement officers and debt collection agencies. The mere mention of these is enough to send plenty of people spiralling into a panic, as most of what people think they know about debt collection agencies is simply rumour and misinformation. Whenever you’re dealing with council tax, debts and debt collection agencies it is very important to know your legal rights and the powers of the collection agencies you have found yourself dealing with. Call Council Tax Advisors today for all the advice and mediation you need in paying back your council tax arrears or debts.
Whenever you’re dealing with council tax, debts and debt collection agencies it is very important to know your legal rights
At Council Tax Advisors we are here to set the record straight. Council Tax Advisors is a Not-For-Profit Community Interest Company (CIC), running primarily on donations, with funding from businesses, charities and support from local councils, meaning we can give you the free, expert advice you need. If you have any questions about your legal standpoint or rights when it comes to debt collection agencies, council tax arrears or indeed any other kind of debt, don’t hesitate to contact Council Tax Advisors today. When it comes to debt collection agencies it’s always a case where the sooner you address the problem, the better.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding these terms, so let’s take a few moments to define what a bailiff, an enforcement officer and a debt collection agency are. A bailiff is a court-appointed “enforcement officer”. A debt collector from a debt collection agency is not a bailiff (or an enforcement officer,) and it is very important to remember that. Bailiffs will be referred to as enforcement officers on any paperwork you receive from them, and are court-appointed collectors of debt. A bailiff has far more legal power than anyone from a debt collection agency, but neither a bailiff nor debt collectors are above the law. There are rules in place set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regulators of the financial industry here in the UK, which governs what any debt collector may and may not do. If you are unhappy with the way a bailiff of debt collection agency has acted, you are well within your rights to file a complaint to both the FCA and the debt collection agency itself. Call Council Tax Advisors today, and we will help you make sure your complaint is heard.
A bailiff is a court-appointed “enforcement officer”. A debt collector from a debt collection agency is NOT a bailiff or an enforcement officer.
The major difference between a bailiff and a debt collection agency are that bailiffs have the right to take away some of your possessions, sell them use the proceeds to pay off your debt. Emphasis goes on the word “some” – a bailiff can never take an item which you need to work or survive, or anything belonging to your children. Here at Council Tax Advisors we are experts on debt and debt-related problems, and can talk you through the list of what a bailiff can and can’t do when give us a call. Just remember that once you’ve freely invited a bailiff into your house they are allowed to force entry the next time they visit your property to collect on your debt.
Take extreme caution and seek expert advice like the kind we offer at Council Tax Advisors before you permit a bailiff entry to your property. Even if you don’t give permission to enter your house, a bailiff can take items that aren’t behind a locked door – so if your car is on your driveway or you leave your back door unlocked, they are legally allowed to take it to sell your car or enter your house, assuming the correct paperwork has been done.
It’s completely illegal for an employee of a debt collection agency to pretend that they are a bailiff
A debt collector, on the other hand, does not have the legal power to force entry into your house, and they do not have the legal power to take your possessions, irrespective if they are behind a locked door or on the street. While some debt collection agencies would prefer you to think they’re all-powerful when it comes to your possessions, it’s completely illegal for an employee of a debt collection agency to pretend that they are a bailiff, or to tell you that they have the power to walk into your house and take your TV. If a debt collector forces entry into your house and does take your TV to sell, we have a legal term for that – it’s called “theft”, and should be treated as such. This doesn’t mean that debt collection agencies should be taken lightly, however. If you’ve received a letter from a collection agency do not ignore it – call Council Tax Advisors today and see how we can help.
When I comes to council tax, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can send either bailiffs or debt collection agencies to collect any money you owe. Generally speaking, debt collectors are sent before bailiffs so that the council or creditors don’t need to bother the Magistrate’s Court by applying for a bailiff’s warrant. This is why bailiffs have the extra powers a debt collector lacks – they’re effectively a last resort. It’s also important to remember that HMRC has the power to take any money you owe them from your pension, or to bankrupt you and close your business. If you receive letters or correspondence from a debt collection agency and you’re unsure about the situation, it’s imperative that you Council Tax Advisors for free debt advice immediately. The sooner you address the problem the less financial damage you’re likely to do to yourself.
“Thanks to your quick and professional response an arrangement has been made that is much more manageable for me.”
The first thing to be aware of is potential interest on your account. Just like a high street bank, debt collection agencies have the power to charge interest on your debts, so the sooner you call Council Tax Advisors, the better. Not only will you pay less interest if you pay off the debt sooner, but with the right help and solution you can actually freeze the interest, allowing you to pay off less than if you simply ignore the debt collectors.
Debt collection agencies like Lowell Portfolio 1, CapQuest and Moorcroft tend to work in one of two ways.
The local council, HMRC, or even creditors such as mobile phone companies, Payday Loans companies and banks can ask debt collection agencies to collect the money on their behalf. If this happens you will be contacted by the collection agency, but still pay money to the original company or council. The debt collection agency will collect a percentage of this debt as a fee from the council or creditor for their services.
The second option is that the council or creditor actually sells your debt to the collection agency, washing their hands of the situation. The debt collection agency buys the debt at a lower price, and you pay the original full amount directly to the debt collection agency. The agency will then pocket the difference between the price they bought your debt at, and the amount you paid them.
You can generally figure out who owns your debt by simply looking at who you are paying your debt back to, but irrespective of who owns your debt it is still important to know what powers the debt collection agency have, and what powers they would like you to think they have. While debt collection agencies can chase you for the debt by phone or by correspondence in the post, they can’t harass you for the money. Again there’s clear guidelines set by the FCA as to what counts as harassment – you can’t take a debt collection agency to court because they asked you repeatedly to repay your debt, but if they ring you during unsociable hours several times per day, stalk you via social media like Facebook or Twitter, or pressure you to sell your house, take out credit or pay off more than you can afford, that’s harassment and they make themselves liable by doing so. Council Tax Advisors is just a phone call away from talking you through your rights when it comes to debt collection agencies, so call us now if you have any questions.
While debt collection agencies can chase you for the debt by phone or by correspondence in the post, they CANNOT harass you for the money.
Even though debt collectors are not bailiffs, collectors can however still visit you at home to discuss your debt in person if they wish to do so. Remember that these are not court-appointed officials, and have no more power than someone contacting you by phone. Generally speaking, debt collectors will threaten to send “agents” only as a scare tactic – it’s a lot cheaper and more effective simply to call you. Plus if debt collectors at your door inform your neighbours of your debt or try to publically embarrass you, the agency is in breach of the Data Protection Act and is liable for a law suit. Considering that these collectors are not court-appointed officials, it’s also illegal for them to send documentation intentionally designed to look like it has come from the courts. It’s so illegal for debt collection agencies to imply that court action has been taken when it hasn’t or that legal action can be taken if it can’t. Debt collectors can take court action if they wish to do so, intentionally misinforming you of your legal standpoint and the act of impersonating a court official or a bailiff are all still illegal.
If you need helping making heads or tails of your debt-related paperwork, call Council Tax Advisors today – we’re here to help.
Finally with regards to their powers, if a debt collector shows up at your door, they are expected to be professional at all times, just as you’d expect a teacher, postman or shop manager to be. If they threaten you physically or verbally, they open themselves to legal repercussions. If you ask them to leave your property and they refuse, that is both trespassing and harassment. If you have any of these problems when dealing with a debt collection agency when it comes to your council tax arrears or any other debt, be sure to call Council Tax Advisors today. We will show you how to complain to your council, the collection agency itself, and the Financial Ombudsman Service – an independent service here in the UK which settles disputes between businesses providing financial services & their customers – and make sure your voice is heard.
If you’ve received a letter from a debt collection agency saying that you owe them money for whatever reason, you need to know how to go about solving the problem, and what order you should do things in. The very first thing you should do is call an independent advice service like Council Tax Advisors and check your legal standpoint – do not, under any circumstances, simply ignore the letter. Not only will we advise you on where you stand, but we will mediate between you and the debt collection agency to make sure that everything is above board and that the collection agency works within the law at all times. By and large, if you contact the debt collection agency and explain your financial situation, and can prove that you are paying as much as you can, an arrangement can be made that will keep both the debt collection agency and yourself relatively happy. If you’re making monthly payments and can provide a list of budgets and debts that prove that you are paying back as much as you can, most debt collection agencies will accept your payments and even freeze the interest you’re paying on the debt. They aren’t obligated to do this and it’s really just a goodwill gesture – but with the free, expert help that Council Tax Advisors offers, it’s a lot more likely to happen.
If considering a personal loan, you should make a plan as to how you can realistically pay it back
There are three key things to remember when dealing with debt collection agencies, throughout the entire debt collection process.
Debt collectors are not bailiffs, and no matter what they say, they can never force entry to your property and reclaim your possessions. If any debt collector falsely claims to be bailiff or implies that can take your property, they are breaking the law – just like impersonating a police officer for personal gain is breaking the law.
Debt collection agencies will often threaten to send debt collectors to your house to discuss your debt in person. In reality it’s rare that this actually happens, and is generally just used as a scare tactic.
Debt collectors are still not bailiffs, no matter how much they may want you to think they are. It’s that important that it’s in here twice because agencies don’t have any more power than he original creditor. That being said, the creditor or council still has the power to go to the Magistrate’s Court and request a bailiff be sent to collect on your debt.
If you require any help, advice or mediation when it comes to debt collection agencies, make sure you contact Council Tax Advisors today.
“Thanks to your quick and professional response an arrangement has been made that is much more manageable for me.”
Council Tax Advisors is a Community Interest Company. We are a Not-For-Profit organisation and full members of AdviceUK, set up to help you with your council tax arrears and debt problems. We don’t charge for our services, and are simply financed by donations from individuals, charities businesses and councils, allowing us to give independent, expert advice. We don’t just help people to deal with their council tax arrears, but are ready to help with any other debts such as paying off Payday Loans. Council Tax Advisors was born from a legal dispute between the Managing Director, Chris Richards, and bailiffs who acted outside the law, so you’re guaranteed to get sound, up to date legal advice from the impeccable service we provide. We know first-hand how stressful it is to have financial issues, debts and doubts about the whole process hanging over you, but there are always viable solutions available to those who have been properly informed. Chris Richards, Managing Director of Council Tax Advisors put it best when he said “It is through our own personal experiences that we have been able understand, advise and help.”
It is through our own personal experiences that we have been able understand, advise and help
Chris Richards, Managing Director, Council Tax Advisors
The first thing we can do to help you solve your debt problems – particularly with council tax – is to determine how much you actually owe. There are a lot of exemptions to council tax such as disabilities or if your house is unoccupied, or occupied by students which could lower or write off your debt, and our expert staff will be able to tell you if you qualify for any of them. We help over 100 people every day sort out their council tax and debt-related problems, and will even mediate the entire process for you if you wish. One of repayment options available to you if you have several debts to pay off is called an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, or IVA, and we can set that up for you too. An IVA is a legally binding arrangement which simplifies the entire process by organising reasonable repayments against all of your debts, repaying each of your creditors evenly over a set period of time. An agreement will be made to pay back either all or part of your debt, and your nominee (who is almost always an insolvency practitioner) will divide your repayments between all of the creditors you owe money to. Not only does this spread out your repayments, but you pay a set amount each month for a set period of time, after which any remaining debt is written off.
We help over 100 people every day sort out their council tax and debt-related problems, and will even mediate the entire process for you if you wish
There are a set of rules in place which determine if you’re eligible for an IVA, such as if your total debts are greater than the value of your assets, including your property. Because an IVA is a legally binding form of insolvency and requires a nominee, it’s very important that you seek reliable, trustworthy advice from an independent service like Council Tax Advisors before taking out an IVA. Our experts will not only be willing and able to advise you on whether or not you qualify for an IVA, but whether or not an IVA is best option for you. We will even mediate between the debt collection agencies and yourself, not only simplifying the debt collection process, but making your life immeasurably easier.
If you have any questions about debt collection agencies or your rights surrounding them, do not hesitate to get in contact with Council Tax Advisors today. We will never charge you for our services – we simply want to help you get debt-free. There is a lot to consider when it comes to debt collection agencies, your repayment plans and especially when looking into an IVA, so contact Council Tax Advisors now for the expert, independent advice that could help you get debt free in just a few years’ time.
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