How to protect yourself from the bailiffs or debt collectors, is an added concern you may have to deal with when you are already worried enough about how to get out of debt. Without a doubt, the stress of living with the fear of those unwarranted phone calls during the day and night adds to your stress. But what are your rights?
Following is some information from Debtline …
“Lynne Jones, at National Debtline, replies: Depending on the type of debt they are collecting, different bailiffs have different powers relating to entry rights, fees they can charge, and sometimes even what goods they can remove.
However bailiffs have guidelines relating to their actions and conduct that they should be following and a complaint can be made if the guidelines are not being adhered to.
The lenders themselves should also follow various guidelines and codes of practice in relation to debt collection.
For most types of debts, there will need to have been some form of court action before bailiff action can take place.
Although you almost certainly have a bailiff collecting on your council tax, you should also be aware that sometimes a person calling regarding a debt can give the impression they are a bailiff, but are in fact what is known as a debt collection agent. Debt Collection Agents do not have any rights to enter your property or to remove goods you may own.
If a bailiff has not already gained entry into your property, it is really important not to let them in and also to remove any goods from directly outside your property, including any vehicles you may own.
It is also vital to obtain detailed advice on your situation as soon as possible. Council tax is a priority debt and you must pay this, and any other priority debts you may have, before you pay any of your non-priority debts such as credit cards or unsecured loans. ”
It is important that you know your rights and how to protect yourself against aggressive or condescending debt collectors.
Other news on debt collectors comes from Ireland. It is incredulous to believe that debt collectors have been hunting students in universities to clear their student debts. Added to that is the fact that these debt collectors are not even vetted by the police. So anyone can become a debt collector? No qualifications? No police vetting?
Read more about this in the following paragraphs where a voluntary code of conduct was recommended by the Law Reform Commission as best practice for debt collection agencies. Most of the debt collection agencies had not signed up yet. This was produced by Stubbs Gazette, one of the leading business information and credit reporting agencies in Ireland.
“Creditors who decide to pass overdue accounts on to third parties would be well advised to consider the decision as meticulously as they would a decision to outsource any other aspect of their business, James Treacy, managing director of Stubbs Gazette said.
He added that creditors needed to be sure they appoint a debt collection agency that will operate within the law, that won’t cause them any reputational damage and that will hand over all funds recovered.
Sadly, not all collection agencies operate within the law and some unscrupulous agencies don’t even return collection proceeds to the client. A good starting point is to select an agency that has signed up to the code of practice, he said.
It was reported last week that some universities had hired debt collectors to track down students for outstanding fees. Since the recession began, debt collectors have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for their services. They were also being used by local authorities.”
- Debt collectors are not vetted by Garda (independent.ie)