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Bailiffs and Debt Collectors

Bailiffs and Debt Collectors

SKU: 1.13
  • Advice

    We are often asked about the use of bailiffs and debt collectors in regard to debts. Although both can visit you at home the main difference is that a debt collector doesn’t have any special legal powers to collect a debt, whereas a bailiff does.


    What's a bailiff?

    Bailiffs (also known as enforcement agents) have legal powers to collect a debt. They can be self-employed, work for a company or potentially the local council. They generally collect debts regarding County Court judgments (CCJs), council tax arrears, parking fines, child maintenance arrears as well as reclaiming debts from private clients. Bailiffs have a legal right to visit your property and can remove and sell your goods to pay off your debt, in practice they are rarely used by credit card companies.


    What's a debt collector?

    Your creditors can seek various ways to recover their debt, one way is to send a debt collector to visit your home in person, although they can do this (and often threaten it to get you to pay), such visits are very rare. Most creditors will stick to contacting you by phone or letter. A debt collector is not the same as an enforcement agent or bailiff as they have no special legal powers. Debt collectors may work for your creditor, or they may work for a separate debt collection agency. They're sometimes known as doorstep collectors or field agents.


    What can a debt collector do?

    A debt collector can:

    • Visit you at home;
    • Speak to you about the debt and try to set up a payment arrangement; or
    • Ask for immediate and full payment.


    But they cannot do any of the following:

    • Visit you at your workplace;
    • Act in a threatening or intimidating way, or cause a disturbance;
    • Force their way into your house or refuse to leave when you tell them to;
    • Take any of your belongings or clamp your car;
    • Pretend they're a bailiff or enforcement agent; or
    • Speak to anyone else about your debt.


    If you feel you've been treated unfairly by a debt collector you can make a complaint. Most debt collectors are members of a trade body like the Credit Services Association, which has a code of conduct setting out standards they expect their members to meet.


    What should I do if a debt collector or bailiff visits?

    Firstly, try and stay calm, they have nothing against you personally, they are just there because they have been sent to do a job, to check they are legit you should politely ask to see proof of I.D and make a note of their name and the debt collection company they represent, all debt collectors should carry this. If you are in a position to settle the debt, or make suitable negotiations they we suggest you do so, but remember taking on a liability that is unrealistic just to get them to leave will ultimately result in hardship, or return visits.


    In this situation honesty is really the best policy


    Explain what you can afford to pay them, and give them a copy of your budget if you have one. If you make a payment, make sure you get a receipt.


    How we can help

    As mentioned in the main text we do need to be appointed prior to their visit. To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by simply clicking on the link at the top of the page, you will then need to deposit a sum equal to one hour’s usage, upon receipt of these funds you will be assigned your personal caseworker who will telephone you to discuss the matter and make suggestions on how to proceed. Please note your caseworker is not legally trained and can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our trainee and qualified solicitors and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc. The main goal is to try and agree a repayment solution to avoid their visit altogether, no offence to them as many are very professional, however they all charge for their services, this cost is passed onto you so obviously it’s best to avoid it if possible.

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