Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

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Michelle
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#1 Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 18:19

It's common for debt collectors (commonly known as DCAs) to send letters threatening a home visit by a doorstep collector or field agent. The majority of these threats are never carried out because it works out cheaper to send just letters than real agents, however, on the odd occasion, DCAs do send agents round to people's homes.

Many people mistakenly assume such debt collectors are bailiffs (enforcement agents) and/or have a similar role, they assume they will take their belongings away and the only way to stop this would be to make a payment. In reality, debt collectors have no authority whatsoever. They can knock on the door and say they are there to collect a certain debt, but that's as far as they can go. They cannot take anything away or even make an inventory of goods in your home. Even if you let them in (which, of course, is not advisable), they cannot do anything. If you are visited by a debt collector you can refuse to talk to them and say you will only discuss matters in writing with the creditor.

Creditors often send letters threatening all sorts of things, including sending bailiffs to your home. In many cases, they neglect to mention that they would need to take you to court and obtain judgment against you (a CCJ) before they can enforce the debt in any way. Once judgment has been obtained, the creditor can apply to the court for a warrant of control to use enforcement agents to collect the money owed or seize goods to be sold. In reality, this method of enforcement is not commonly used for consumer credit debts such as loans and credit cards.

Although it is generally safe to ignore threats of home visits from debt collectors, there are letters that can be sent if you have any concerns about a home visit, especially if it's likely to cause you embarrassment or get you in trouble. It could be that your partner is not aware of your debts or you share a property with your landlord or live with your in-laws.
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#2 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Mark1960 » 11 Nov 2014 19:02

Hi Michelle great first post.

I believe that debt collectors are obliged to make a prior appointment with the debtor also? They may not simply turn up at your door unannounced.

Obviously this does not mean that the debt will go away.

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#3 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 19:38

I think a debt collector can turn up unannounced but he must leave when he is told to do so.

A debt collector has to get the debtor to admit the debt.

Does anyone know whether doorstep debt collectors still exist? I remember my parents talking about black-suited bowler-hatted bill collectors from the 1960's but I've never seen one in the flesh. When I first saw a bailiff on duty, he was a dirty old man type.
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#4 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Mark1960 » 11 Nov 2014 19:51

Certainly under OFT guidelines for debt collection, an appointment was required. As this all changed last year with the OFT no longer involved, I have not read current guidance.

Personally, I think it would be great to receive a doorstep visit. Imagine the fun you could have with such a powerless buffoon?

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#5 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 20:03

jasonDWB wrote:I think a debt collector can turn up unannounced but he must leave when he is told to do so.

A debt collector has to get the debtor to admit the debt.

Does anyone know whether doorstep debt collectors still exist? I remember my parents talking about black-suited bowler-hatted bill collectors from the 1960's but I've never seen one in the flesh. When I first saw a bailiff on duty, he was a dirty old man type.
Yes, they still exist, you will find people on various sites who have received visits, but not many. It's a bit like the lottery, someone has to win to make it believable, but it's not very likely to happen.

They usually do turn up unannounced, how many people would actually make an appointment with a debt collector?

The problem is precisely that people are not aware of the difference between bailiffs and debt collectors, nor are they aware of their right to refuse to engage with them. I recall many years ago a young guy who had incurred a lot of debt, both personal and in the name of his company, saying he was very happy to be living in a gated community in Docklands, because that meant the bailiffs couldn't get to his front door. As far as I know, he didn't have any CCJs, so he must have been referring to debt collectors who had previously gone round to see him when he lived in a house. Back in those days, there were no resources like this one where people could find things out easily, you'd have to go to the CAB or similar outfit.
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#6 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 20:05

I've never actually had one, so I would be lost for words and confused if I had a debt collector turn up. I don't actually know anything about regulation for the debt collection industry.

I can demolish bailiffs and attending police officers in 10 seconds. I do that all the time on the DWB emergency helpline.
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#7 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 20:08

Mark1960 wrote:Hi Michelle great first post.

I believe that debt collectors are obliged to make a prior appointment with the debtor also? They may not simply turn up at your door unannounced.

Obviously this does not mean that the debt will go away.
Thanks, Mark.

They can turn up but you can tell them where to go. The debt won't go away but it can be dealt with in writing as it should be. The prospect of home visits does scare a lot of people, both because of the embarrassment element and the fact that they think they will take their belongings away.
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#9 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 20:14

Michelle wrote: They usually do turn up unannounced, how many people would actually make an appointment with a debt collector?

The problem is precisely that people are not aware of the difference between bailiffs and debt collectors, nor are they aware of their right to refuse to engage with them. I recall many years ago a young guy who had incurred a lot of debt, both personal and in the name of his company, saying he was very happy to be living in a gated community in Docklands, because that meant the bailiffs couldn't get to his front door. As far as I know, he didn't have any CCJs, so he must have been referring to debt collectors who had previously gone round to see him when he lived in a house. Back in those days, there were no resources like this one where people could find things out easily, you'd have to go to the CAB or similar outfit.
I have thumbed the CAG, LB and AAD boards about debt but I couldn't get excited because I couldn't see what regulation was being followed from the advice given. I've had the odd red letter to an unknown person at my address but nothing has ever come of it. They are very seldom.

I know debt matters fills the majority of CAG and LB plus lots of others so it must be happening. I remember the bank charge revolution which spawned the CAG forums, but when that finished, it became just another debt board which switched focus to PPI when that became big. Ive never actually has any PPI and I thought it was a rarity but the TV commercials is evidence it was rife. We are waiting for the next big thing. I don't think it will be Liability Order fee refunds even if legal consensus privately say Rev Nicolson will succeed, although not retrospectively.
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#10 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 20:15

jasonDWB wrote:I've never actually had one, so I would be lost for words and confused if I had a debt collector turn up. I don't actually know anything about regulation for the debt collection industry.
This is what the FCA Handbook has to say on the subject of home visits: http://fshandbook.info/FS/html/FCA/CONC/7/9

As you can see, it's not necessary to make an appointment as such, they can give you notice and you may decide not to be there at that time.
Unless it is not practicable to do so, a firm must ensure that a person visiting a customer on its behalf:
(1) clearly explains to the customer the purpose and intended outcome of the proposed visit; and

(2) gives the customer adequate notice of the date and likely time (at a reasonable time of day) of the visit.

Failure to explain the purpose and intended outcome of a proposed initial visit to the customer or to give adequate notice prior to a proposed initial visit to the customer may not contravene CONC 7.9.12 R2, provided that the customer is happy to speak to the person pursuing recovery of the debt at that time. However, where, at the initial visit the customer indicates a preference to use the first visit to agree a more convenient time for a future visit, the person pursuing recovery of the debt should respect the customer's wishes. It is important that the customer is given reasonable time to prepare for a visit and should not be coerced or pressurised into immediate discussions or decisions.

A firm must ensure that all persons visiting a customer's property on its behalf act at all times in accordance with the requirements of CONC 7 and do not:
(1) act in a threatening manner towards a customer;
(2) visit a customer at a time when they know or suspect that the customer is, or may be, particularly vulnerable;
(3) visit at an inappropriate location unless the customer has expressly consented to the visit;
(4) enter a customer's property without the customer's consent or an appropriate court order;
(5) refuse to leave a customer's property when it becomes apparent that the customer is unduly distressed or might not have the mental capacity to make an informed repayment decision or to engage in the debt recovery process;
(6) refuse to leave a customer's property when reasonably asked to do so;
(7) visit or threaten to visit a customer without the customer's prior agreement when a debt is deadlocked or reasonably queried or disputed (see CONC 7.14 (Settlements, disputed and deadlocked debt)).

It would normally be inappropriate to visit a customer at the customer place of work or at a hospital where the customer is a patient.
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#11 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 20:18

Yes, that was the OFT guidance, which was all it was, guidelines rather than solid legislation.

The OFT ceased to exist (just as well!) and its functions were taken over by the FCA from April 2014.
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#12 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Mark1960 » 11 Nov 2014 20:18

Would also add that if they do threaten a visit, you can remove implied right of access.

Shamelessly stolen from CAG:
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#13 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 20:18

The OFT document is only guidelines. It doesn't give any statutory powers to either party.

Michelle. Lets give a hypothetical scenario. Im a single dad of 3 unemployed and in a social shitpit of a house and I go to wonga.com and borrow a grand and blow the lot poking it up my nose and don't pay it back.

What is the worst wonga can do?
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#14 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Mark1960 » 11 Nov 2014 20:20

Michelle wrote:
Yes, that was the OFT guidance, which was all it was, guidelines rather than solid legislation.

The OFT ceased to exist (just as well!) and its functions were taken over by the FCA from April 2014.
The problem for the DCA was that if they ignored OFT guidance, they would not have their licence renewed.

I've not had the need to search FCA guidelines but surely they would have similar measures in place?

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#15 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Andy » 11 Nov 2014 21:37

jasonDWB wrote:I would be lost for words and confused if I had a debt collector turn up.
:o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o

The well oiled machine that is Jason will be stumbling over his words??? WHAT??? :lol:
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#16 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Nov 2014 21:39

jasonDWB wrote: Does anyone know whether doorstep debt collectors still exist? I remember my parents talking about black-suited bowler-hatted bill collectors from the 1960's but I've never seen one in the flesh. When I first saw a bailiff on duty, he was a dirty old man type.
I believe the utility companies use them from time to time as the threat of being cut off still has mileage, but doorsteppers for goods or money debts? Not worth the effort anymore.

If you don't mind the constant letters and wrecked credit file, ignore it for six years and the debt dies. If the combined debts are huge, some advocate an IVA, but as far as I can see that seems to just line the brokers pockets with fees.
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#17 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Nov 2014 21:41

Andy wrote:
jasonDWB wrote: The well oiled machine that is Jason will be stumbling over his words??? WHAT???
Have you heard Jason speak? Smoothness personified. He could sell snow to Eskimos. :mrgreen:
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On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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#18 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 22:14

Pote, have you actually spoken to me? are you a DWB client posting here incognito?
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#19 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Amy » 11 Nov 2014 22:31

Well done Michelle, really good work. I'm so glad we found you.

x

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#20 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Andy » 11 Nov 2014 22:36

Pote Snitkin wrote:
Andy wrote:
jasonDWB wrote: The well oiled machine that is Jason will be stumbling over his words??? WHAT???
Have you heard Jason speak? Smoothness personified. He could sell snow to Eskimos. :mrgreen:
Indeed I have.
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#21 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 22:45

I don't get this, the only ones here I have spoken to here is Amy and Mark. Amy sounds cute over the phone and Mark is classic Brum.
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#22 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Andy » 11 Nov 2014 22:48

jasonDWB wrote:Amy sounds cute over the phone
C-H-E-E-S-E !

:lol:
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#23 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 22:56

Mark1960 wrote:Would also add that if they do threaten a visit, you can remove implied right of access.

Shamelessly stolen from CAG:
That was precisely the letter I had in mind. Does the trick so no point in re-inventing the wheel.
Mark1960 wrote: The problem for the DCA was that if they ignored OFT guidance, they would not have their licence renewed.

I've not had the need to search FCA guidelines but surely they would have similar measures in place?
They do indeed, see my previous post:
Michelle wrote:This is what the FCA Handbook has to say on the subject of home visits: http://fshandbook.info/FS/html/FCA/CONC/7/9
Under the OFT, most DCAs didn't fully comply with the guidelines, yet they still managed to hold on to their CCLs. Only time will tell whether the FCA does any better.
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#24 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Michelle » 11 Nov 2014 23:01

jasonDWB wrote:The OFT document is only guidelines. It doesn't give any statutory powers to either party.

Michelle. Lets give a hypothetical scenario. Im a single dad of 3 unemployed and in a social shitpit of a house and I go to wonga.com and borrow a grand and blow the lot poking it up my nose and don't pay it back.

What is the worst wonga can do?
They can take you to court but would probably be wasting their time because you can't get blood out of a stone. They don't seem to take many people to court precisely for that reason, and also because their excessive charges may come into question.
What they have been doing is intimidating and bullying people into paying. Wonga used to say they had close ties with the Metropolitan Police, implying if you didn't pay you may go to prison. We know that couldn't happen because we are not in Dubai and debt is not a criminal offence in the UK but not everyone knows that, certainly not the largely misinformed masses that tend to use Wonga.

One thing a lot of PDL users do is rob Peter to pay Paul, so they'd go to another PDL shark and borrow to pay Wonga, then borrow yet again to pay the other PDL, etc.

As they say, knowledge is power.
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#25 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Nov 2014 23:30

jasonDWB wrote:Pote, have you actually spoken to me? are you a DWB client posting here incognito?
No, but I've heard you. It's the linguistic equivalent of being sauted in warm butter with truffles. :twisted:
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On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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#26 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Mark1960 » 11 Nov 2014 23:31

Amy-Are you aware that this forum is only accessible when members are signed in?

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#27 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Nov 2014 23:34

Michelle wrote:
jasonDWB wrote: As they say, knowledge is power.
It's brilliant having someone else with informed, concise knowledge on the board. And, judging by the avatar, someone who will only be saying it once.
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. - Benjamin Franklin

On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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#28 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Amy » 11 Nov 2014 23:39

Pote Snitkin wrote:
jasonDWB wrote:Pote, have you actually spoken to me? are you a DWB client posting here incognito?
No, but I've heard you. It's the linguistic equivalent of being sauted in warm butter with truffles. :twisted:
Do you have posters of Jason on your bedroom wall...?

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#29 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Amy » 11 Nov 2014 23:40

Mark1960 wrote:Amy-Are you aware that this forum is only accessible when members are signed in?
Michelle just sent me a message via carrier pigeon disguised in some onions, I've fixed it now.

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#30 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 23:41

Michelle wrote: What they have been doing is intimidating and bullying people into paying. Wonga used to say they had close ties with the Metropolitan Police, implying if you didn't pay you may go to prison.
Crikey! I would caution them on the spot because that's a criminal offence under Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970. A solicitor can make a complaint to a magistrate for the question of charging the debt collector with the offence. Bye bye CCL.


Michelle wrote: We know that couldn't happen because we are not in Dubai and debt is not a criminal offence in the UK
Well actually debt is not a criminal offence in Dubai either. Its only an offence if you fail to make an agreed payment by a specified time. Charging interest (rental of money) is illegal in Sharia law so the bank buys the property or car and lends that to the consumer in return for agreed payments. Its a workaround the no money lending law.
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#31 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by jasonDWB » 11 Nov 2014 23:41

Amy wrote:
Do you have posters of Jason on your bedroom wall...?
I know someone that does. Look towards the CAG forum.
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#32 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Amy » 11 Nov 2014 23:46

jasonDWB wrote:
Amy wrote:
Do you have posters of Jason on your bedroom wall...?
I know someone that does. Look towards the CAG forum.
That's the stuff of nightmares!

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#33 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Pote Snitkin » 11 Nov 2014 23:52

Amy wrote: Do you have posters of Jason on your bedroom wall...?
I couldn't get one, so I just use this...
rw.jpg
Also printed on my pillows.
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#34 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Andy » 11 Nov 2014 23:57

Pote Snitkin wrote:Also printed on my pillows.
Funny :)
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#35 Re: Debt collectors are not bailiffs and have no authority

Post by Amy » 11 Nov 2014 23:57

ROFL!

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