What to do if collection agencies keep calling?

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What to do if collection agencies keep calling?

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Few things are more annoying than seemingly relentless calls from debt collectors. “Yes, I know I have a debt that I will eventually have to pay, but I don’t need someone to harass and remind me every day.” Turn right?

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While many customer service representatives or company representatives treat people with courtesy and respect, the situation is often very different with collection agencies. One thing you should know, however, is that regardless of the amount you owe, the law protects you from being harassed by invasive and repeated calls from collection agencies.

Read on to find out what to do if collection agencies keep calling.

How do you deal with these people?

The mistake I see many people make when dealing with debt collection agencies is thinking that they must accept the demands or follow all instructions to the letter regarding debt payments. Many people are coerced, bullied or even fooled into thinking that the collection agency is actually trying to help them get their affairs in order. Often, such partnerships only encourage collection agencies to become even more pushy and keep calling repeatedly.

You should be aware that when it comes to collection agencies, the majority have only one goal: to get as much money from you as possible. After all, payees usually receive a percentage of the amount that they can recover from you (sometimes this can be as much as 50% of the reclaimed amount). The average Brit has credit card debt of £2,688 and if a collector is hired to get it back and can get a significant chunk of it, there’s a chance they’ll use every method in the book to accomplish this goal, including harassing you through constant phone calls.

Write a cancellation letter

One of the best aspects of debt collection regulation is that it gives you the opportunity to never have to deal with debt collection agencies over the phone again. By means of a so-called ‘cease-fire’ you can let the debt collection agency know that you only want to deal directly with the creditor and therefore do not want to be approached by debt collection agencies. In the letter you can also inform the payee that any further contact will lead to legal action on your part. Current legal guidelines require the collection agency to stop contacting you immediately upon receipt of this letter.

To make sure the letter is delivered, find the official mailing address of the collector and send the letter there. As long as you have proof of this letter (you may keep a copy), the law is always on your side.

What’s the downside?

The only downside to the “stop and stop” letter approach is that you have to be consistent in writing these letters. This is because one letter written and delivered to a particular collection agency does not exempt other payees from contacting you. Creditors often use a number of different collection agencies and may send several to you at different times.

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However, as long as you fire every collector that is sent your way, you remain in control. Phone calls should become less and less frequent, because at some point, the payees probably won’t consider you worth the risk of taking legal action against them or even a fine from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They will most likely shift their focus to other debtors.

You have rights

If you are in debt, you have rights that protect you from actions by collection agencies that are unfair and improper. Some of these actions, as defined in Section 7.9 of the FCA . Consumer Credit Sourcebook, include:

  • Contacting you at unreasonable times or at unreasonable intervals (calls before 8am and after 9pm may be considered unreasonable).
  • Acting in a way that may embarrass you publicly, either intentionally or negligently (for example, calling you at your workplace or leaving messages to your employer or friends, exposing you to be chased for repayment of debts)
  • Providing you with misleading information (including claiming that your property or assets may be seized, claiming excessive or unenforceable costs, misrepresenting the debtor’s legal position to the debtor, false claims of court orders, and so on).

The law prohibits a collection agency from making monetary claims that are intended to cause distress, humiliation and alarm to the debtor because of the frequency or manner in which they are executed.

The Harassment Protection Act 1997 actually criminalizes acts of persons which they know or ought to know will involve intimidation of another individual. Repeated calling outside reasonable hours or at your workplace can therefore be classified as a criminal offence.

What to do if your rights are violated?

If you believe that a collection agency’s actions have broken the law or violated FCA guidelines, you should report this to them before taking any further action.

However, you will need to collect evidence of the actions – this could be an overview of all calls made to you, the timing and content of the calls. You can then let the payee know that you are aware of the FCA collection guidelines and believe that they have been violated.

Ask the creditor to stop their actions and tell them how you would like to be approached about the debt in the future. If the payee does not follow your instructions and continues to call or harass you repeatedly, you can file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman or take the collection agency to court.

Main takeaway

Collections that keep calling are just annoying. If they call you frequently, at odd times or at work, it could be classed as harassment. By being aware of FCA’s debt collection guidelines, you can take action to stop unwanted calls from debt collection agencies. You can call them and tell them to stop, write a complaint or even a ceasefire letter cutting off communication with them completely.

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