We understand that if you are contacted by one of our Members in relation to an outstanding debt you may have a number of questions. Please click on the following link to read our frequently asked questions (FAQs).
If you cannot find the answer that you are looking for, please feel free to contact us on 0191 217 0775 or submit a question here.
The Debt Collection Process
It is important to note that a priority for debt collection and debt purchase companies is to find the right solution for everyone. Our Members deal with over 6 million households in the UK on a daily basis so they are in an ideal position to help.
The following is a simplified guide to the debt collection process.
The debt collection process - a simple guide
When an individual has an outstanding balance on such things as loans, store cards or bills, a debt collection agency (DCA) may be called in to attempt to find a solution that will suit both parties.
The first step may be that you are contacted by a company by post, where they introduce themselves and encourage prompt contact with the aim of setting up an affordable repayment arrangement.
Attempts may also be made by the company to contact you by phone with the aim of resolving the query.
Please do not be alarmed if you believe that the debt does not belong to you - just communicate this to the advisor on the phone or in writing. It may also help to take the advisor's name for future reference.
What is important is that you don’t ignore the problem. You can seek free and independent advice and guidance regarding your circumstances. Contact the company and discuss your situation.
Through these steps the company is often able to assist you with repaying through arranging an affordable and manageable repayment plan. Alternatively, by notifying them that you are not the person they are looking for, they can remove your details from their database and stop contacting you.
If you feel that you are being unfairly treated by one of our Members and wish to make a complaint, please contact us in writing by completing a Complaints Form. If you have any other queries or questions please feel free to contact us using the Contact Us page.
Free help and advice is widely available for people affected by debt or the debt collection process. Your rights depend on the type of agreement you have as a customer with the bank/building society/creditor, and the law can be very complex. We have gathered together information on organisations which can help you through this process. Please visit our Help with your Finances section for more information.
Legislation may be in place to protect you if you do not owe the money or you cannot afford to pay due to personal circumstances, and you should seek legal, regulatory or consumer advice in these circumstances for details of relevant legislation. Ultimately, resolving a debt related issue requires clear communication from all parties involved and it is important that you share the required information with the company contacting you. Please visit our Help with your Finances section for more information.
Help with your Finances
Receiving any form of communication from a debt collection agency can be stressful. Understandably, the first place to investigate this is online. However, the internet contains a lot of conflicting information about what is the right thing to do and in most cases this can make the process of resolving the issue even more confusing and time consuming.
If you are investigating a debt or experiencing any financial difficulties, we have gathered together a list of organisations who offer free, confidential and impartial advice.
StepChange (formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service) is the leading debt charity in the UK providing free advice, help with budgets and debt management plans tailored to your personal situation.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on getting out of debt, and a variety of other issues. With branches across the UK they have useful resources online, such as debt FAQs and budgeting tools.
Work out your budget
Citizens Advice provide an online tool to help you understand what you are earning and spending, and where you might be able to cut costs. The tool can be accessed here.
The Money Charity (formerly Credit Action) is a charity with over 20 years’ experience in money management. As well as free and confidential advice, they provide several useful money management apps, such as the “Spendometer”.
AdviceUK is the UK's largest support network for free, independent advice centres. AdviceUK was formed in 1979 as the Federation of Independent Advice Centres (FIAC). As a UK-wide organisation AdviceUK is a key member of the Advice Services Alliance.
National Debtline is a debt charity providing free, confidential and impartial advice and a library of online resources – including an information pack, personal budget planning, sample letters and information that will allow you to determine whether you qualify for a debt relief order.
Visit the National Debtline library to view a range of fact sheets.
Debt Action Northern Ireland is a project ran by Advice Northern Ireland which offers free, confidential and impartial debt and money advice.
Payplan offers a fresh approach to dealing with financial difficulties. We are proud to be the UK's largest provider of free debt solutions, including free debt management plans and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).
A service set up by the government to give free advice, unbiased, independent advice.
The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by law to resolve individual disputes between consumers and financial services businesses. It can deal with complaints about a wide range of financial and money matters, from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit. And it covers complaints about debt collection where the debt relates to consumer credit or hire, when a complaint can be brought by the person owing the money – or by someone who has been pursued for a debt owed by someone else.
The business (debt collector) concerned should be given the chance to look into the complaint first – and has up to eight weeks in which to do this. But if the consumer (usually the borrower) is not satisfied with its response they can refer their complaint to the ombudsman service. The service is independent and impartial – it looks carefully at both sides of the story and weighs up all the evidence before reaching a conclusion.
If the ombudsman service decides the business has treated the consumer fairly it will explain why. But if it decides that the business has acted wrongly – and the person complaining has lost out – then it has the power to order matters to be put right.
You can find out more about the ombudsman at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Legal aid can help you pay for legal advice, family mediation and representation in court and some tribunals. This could include help for housing, debt, family or education problems. You can also get legal aid if you’re accused of a crime.
Money Advice Scotland (MAS) is the national umbrella organisation which promotes the development of free, independent, impartial, confidential money (debt) advice and financial inclusion. The organisation is a registered charity, with clear charitable objectives.
Dealing with a Loss
The Continued Path website offers links to free, independent support organisations as well as practical advice for survivors in the areas of heath & wellness, wills & probate and estates & finance. This site is designed purely to provide an objective online resource, available at the visitor’s convenience with useful information including definitions for common terms associated with the probate process.
Health issues related to debt
Counselling Directory provides a huge support network of counsellors, enabling visitors to find a counsellor close to them and appropriate for their needs.
Data and Data Protection
The Information Commissioner's Office is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information
Debt and mental health
A free 44-page PDF booklet supported by Mind, Rethink, CAPUK and others, for people with mental health problems and those caring for them.
It covers how to handle debts when unwell, work with banks, free debt counselling, specific tips for bipolar disorder or depression sufferers, whether to declare a condition and more.
The CSA works closely with Members, other trade bodies and the government to document a number of publications to provide a clear understanding of the industry.
Please click on the links below for various factsheets.