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Worried about visits from debt collectors?

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Home visits from debt collectors

Your creditors can use different ways to get you to pay your debts. One way is to send a debt collector to visit your home in person, although they will often call or write to you first. You are not obliged let a debt collector into your home and they don’t have the right to take goods away.

It’s very important to understand that a debt collector is not the same as an enforcement agent or bailiff. Debt collectors have no special legal powers. You may feel under pressure to pay more than you can afford, but don’t feel threatened. Find out more about the difference between debt collectors and bailiffs.

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.

It’s their job to recover the money owed to the company they work for or represent. In many cases, they will agree to the debts being paid back in stages, if that means they’re more likely to recover some or all of the debt. We can help you work out how much you can afford to pay towards your debts.

Worried about home visits from debt collectors?

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Can a debt collector come to your house without notice?

Yes, there’s no formal process that debt collectors have to follow, unlike court appointed representatives, such as bailiffs.

There are standards debt collectors have to meet and limitations to their powers. 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, such as the Credit Services Association, which has a code of conduct setting out standards they expect their members to meet

What debt collectors can and can’t do

A debt collector can:

  • Visit you at home
  • Speak to you discreetly about your debt and try to set up a payment arrangement
  • Ask you to make payment to them

But debt collectors can’t 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 - this is a criminal offence
  • Speak to neighbours, family or flatmates about your debt

Find out more about what debt collectors can and cannot do.

What should I do if a debt collector visits me at home?

  • First, ask to see proof of ID and make a note of their name. All debt collectors should carry identification.
  • Don’t open your door to them if you feel uncomfortable. If you don't want to speak to the debt collector ask them to leave. You can deal with the debt over the phone or in writing after the debt collector has left.
  • If you’re happy to speak to them, explain to the debt collector what you can afford to pay them, and give them a copy of your monthly budget if you have one.

We recommend paying creditors directly rather than paying debt collectors on the doorstep. If you do pay the debt collector, make sure you get a receipt. You may find if you pay them once they're likely to come back for further payments.

What happens if I ignore a debt collector?

It’s not a good idea to ignore any contact you get from people chasing debts. If you ignore a debt collector, they may take further action to recover the money you owe them. In the first instance, this could mean court action, such as a County Court Judgment (CCJ).

Many creditors will agree to temporary payment arrangements, based on what you can afford, rather than demanding the full amount from you.

Worried about dealing with debt collectors?

A visit from a debt collector is a sign that you need debt help. If you've not contacted us before, call us (free from all landlines and mobiles) for expert debt help, or take two minutes to answer a few simple questions, so we can understand the best way to help you.

"Get in touch with StepChange, you'll wish you'd done it sooner" Rob, Wiltshire