Illegal Debt Harassment

What Constitutes Illegal Debt Harassment

Do you dread the next knock at the door? Exhausted from the constant calls? Or perhaps you are inundated with letters through the front door? If this sounds familiar then your creditors and their debt collection agency could be committing an illegal offence.

Debt harassment is a serious problem with many consumers unaware of their rights and what exactly constitutes harassment.
Debt Collection agencies and creditors are bound by a set of laws and published guidelines which are set out to protect debtors. Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act defines illegal debt harassment as:

• Frequently demanding payment
• Causing alarm, distress or humiliation
• Falsely stating that criminal proceedings will incur if payment isn’t received
• A Debt Collector representing themselves as a bailiff or a member of the court

Not only would the debt collection agency be found guilty of illegal debt harassment if they were to fall foul of any of the rules above but the creditors could also be liable if they are aware or agree to the procedures.

The Office of Fair Trading and Trade Association also publish their own debt harassment guidelines which must be adhered to. Creditors are warned that it is unfair to communicate with debtors in an unclear, misleading, inaccurate or unacceptable manner. This would include:

• Debt Collectors not making clear what their role is and what company they work for
• Pressuring debtors to pay in full or in large instalments which they simply can’t afford
• Producing letters that look like court claims
• Contacting debtors at unreasonable time or too frequently
• Claiming to be a bailiff or working for the courts
• Implying action which is not legally possible such as the possession of your property or the seizure of goods if you don’t pay your debts
• Threatening to take court action
• Making threatening statements or gestures
• Threatening to tell a third party about your debts such as neighbours, employers or family

Although some of these statements are fairly generic, if you suspect your being illegal harassed from debt collectors or directly from your creditors then contact your local trading standards who will be able to provide further advice.