Are Debt Collectors Allowed to Harass You?
Whilst debt collectors are allowed to contact you, they are not allowed to harass you. There are rules and restrictions on how they can contact you and when. Harassment is a serious issue and you are well within your right to complain if you feel you are being harassed by a debt collector.
In this guide:
- How can debt collectors contact you?
- Is your debt collector harassing you?
- Who can debt collectors contact?
- What can you do about harassment?
- What else can you do?
How can debt collectors contact you?
The Administration of Justice Act prevents debt collectors from being allowed to harass you.
They are allowed to phone you, they are allowed to write to you, and they are allowed to visit you to remind you of your payment. However, phone calls and visits cannot be repetitive and must be at reasonable hours of the day.
You are also totally within your right to request to be written to rather than being phoned, and debt collectors must obey these wishes. It is a good idea to get the debt collector’s agreement to your preference in writing, just in case any issues arise later.
Is your debt collector harassing you?
Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between a firm reminder and harassment. However, there are some very obvious signs that you are being harassed, and if you are, you need to take steps to combat it.
Some signs include contacting you at unreasonable hours of the day demanding payment, causing embarrassment out in public, putting you under unreasonable pressure, telling someone else about your debts, lying about legal action, and threatening you.
Who can debt collectors contact?
Data protection laws mean that debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with anyone except you, unless you have given permission (or your business if it is a business loan).
Your debt and loan is your business, and the debt collector cannot disclose that information. If they do, that counts as harassment and you are entitled to complain.
What can you do about harassment?
There are two steps you can take against harassment - collecting evidence and filing a complaint.
Collecting evidence will help you prove your point and give you more support. Evidence can come in the form of:
- Making a record of the number of visits including time, date and what was said
- Keeping any letters, emails or any other documents received
- Using people as witnesses (e.g. neighbours) who may have seen the action
Filing a complaint can be an effective way to stop the harassment. You can complain to your creditor and ask them to stop and direct them to give you a written response that you can keep as a binding agreement. However, should that not work, there are other more powerful people you can complain to. You can:
- Complain to the professional body or company
- Complain to the solicitor who acts for a creditor
- Complain to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service
- Complain to the Financial Conduct Authority
These different bodies will be able to help in different ways, but harassment is a criminal offence and you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for yourself against any debt collector who is harassing you.
What else can you do?
A different way to combat the issue is to form an individual voluntary arrangement.
This is a legal agreement made between a person unable to pay their debts and their creditors, which allows the debts to be paid off over a stated period of time.
This may encourage creditors to stop harassing you as you have an agreement in place. You then also have the knowledge that your debt will get paid, so you can live with a little more security.