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Phone calls about my debts

If you’ve missed payments to your creditors they’ll usually contact you by phone.

If you’ve accidentally forgotten to make a payment, a reminder call from a creditor can be helpful.

However if your account has defaulted or you’re getting regular phone calls from several creditors, these can be stressful.

Why do creditors call?

Creditors call you because it’s a very effective way to get a payment.

The approach creditors take when they call varies and some will be understanding and supportive if you explain your difficulties. However, this is not the case for all creditors and some may seem unsympathetic.

The caller will often ask for a card payment over the phone. If you can’t make the full payment they’ll often try to make an agreement with you to pay by instalments. They may also want more information from you, such as the reason why you can’t pay, and details of your current income and living costs so they can see what you can afford.

If you make an arrangement to pay by instalments your creditor may take your bank account or card details so they can take the future payments by Direct Debit or continuous payment authority. If you find you can’t afford these payments you can cancel them at any time by contacting your bank.

When a creditor calls they may threaten to take further action unless you make a payment. Don’t let them pressure you into making payments you can’t afford. If you’re worried about anything they say note it down and contact us afterwards for impartial debt advice. Creditors may exaggerate what may happen if you don’t pay.

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What should I do when a creditor calls me?

If a creditor calls about missed payments which you can’t make, explain that you can’t afford to pay what they want. If you’ve contacted us for help with your debts, or if you’re planning to do this soon, let them know.

If you’ve already worked out how much you can afford to pay, tell your creditor. If you need help working out what to pay your creditors, contact us or complete our online debt advice tool.

It's a good idea to explain to your creditors why you're struggling to make payments. However if you're not comfortable doing this over the phone, you can write to or email them instead.

Just like any phone call, you don’t have to speak to a creditor if you don’t want to. Anything important your creditors have to tell you will always come in writing, so make sure you read any letters you get.

If the call makes you feel upset or angry, or if you’re feeling pressured to make payments you can’t afford, it’s better to end the call. Politely ask the caller to send a letter or email instead then hang up the phone. You won’t get into any trouble for this.

Creditors should always speak to you politely and truthfully when they call. If they don’t, you can make a complaint about the creditor.

How often can creditors call me?

If your creditors call you too often it can amount to harassment. But the law doesn’t state a maximum number of calls a creditor can make. In the past we’ve highlighted the issue of nuisance calls.

If you have several creditors, the volume of calls can be much worse. A call every few days from one creditor might not be a problem, but a call every few days from 10 or 20 creditors can feel like an onslaught.

Although there are no official rules or guidance in place, most people would agree one call a week is probably okay, but calling every day definitely isn’t.

If you feel the amount of calls you’re getting from a creditor is unreasonable, you can ask them to stop.

What times can creditors call me?

Your creditors should not call you at ‘unreasonable’ times, but the law doesn’t set any times when creditors can call.

Most people would agree that calls before 8am are too early, and calls after 9pm are too late. But your circumstances may be different, for example if you work night shifts.

If you can’t take calls at certain times tell your creditors. They should keep a record of this and avoid calling you at these times. You can make a complaint if they keep calling at times you’ve told them to avoid.

Can my creditors speak to anyone else?

Your creditors can’t discuss your debt with anyone apart from you unless you’ve given them permission. This includes family and other people living in your house.

If your debt is in joint names they can talk to you and the other person named on the agreement, but no one else.

If someone else in your house answers the phone, your creditor can ask to speak to you, but they can’t give any other information until they’ve got you on the phone.

Your creditors can speak to someone else if you’ve given them permission. If you’re struggling to deal with your debts you can ask your creditors to speak to someone like a family member or support worker.

Can my creditors call me at work?

If you gave a work number on the application form when you took out a debt, your creditor can call you on it.

However if you tell them you don’t want calls at work they must stop using the number. If they call at work after you’ve told them not to you can make a complaint about their actions.

Can I stop my creditors calling me?

If you don’t want to receive any phone calls you can ask your creditors to remove your number from their records. We have an example 'stop a creditor from calling' letter (PDF) you can use to ask for this.

It’s important you still read letters or emails from your creditors.

If your creditors continue to ring after you’ve told them to stop you can make a complaint.

If you have a phone with caller display you can choose not to answer calls from your creditors or from other numbers you don’t recognise. You could also speak to your phone provider about blocking calls from certain numbers, although there may be a charge for this and it may not always work if a creditor calls you from several different numbers.

How we can help

Phone calls from your creditors are a warning sign that you may be struggling to manage your debts.

We can’t stop your creditors calling you. But we can help you put together a household budget and work out the best way to deal with your debts.

Most creditors will give you a ‘breathing space’ of 30 days to get debt advice once you’ve told them you’re in touch with us. They should reduce or stop phone calls for this time.

Contact us or complete our online debt advice tool.