Debt Collectors: Doorstep Visits
Dealing with doorstep visits
If you receive a visit from a debt collector, remain polite. You will make far more of an impact of you remain calm and speak slowly and carefully during the visit. If you lose your temper, you will lose control of the situation. The debt collector has far more experience than you and is very used to being dealt with aggressively.
Remember that the debt collector is on your premises and if he does not have a court order, then you are the person with the authority and it is you who are entitled to control events.
If you are receiving a visit from a debt collector despite already having written to make it clea that you did not want any visits, you should terminate the visit immediately and make complaints to the OFT, Trading standards under CPUT.
If you allow the visit to continue in these circumstances, you will have given in to the debt collector and he will start to dominate you in the meeting.
During the Visit
When receiving a visit from a debt collector, you should attempt to have another adult next to you who can witness everything which goes on. It should be agreed before hand that the witness is not to say anything at all and is there merely as a witness. If a witness starts to get involved in the conversation in any way, it is likely that the exchange will deteriorate and that you will lose control.
Do not invite the debt collector into your home. Do not even invite him into a porch. The best approach is to ask the debt collector to stand on the pavement side of your front gate if you have one while you stand within the boundary of your front garden. The debt collector will prefer to be on your premises. This puts more pressure on you. By getting access to your home - even to your front garden, the debt collector has started the process of getting access to you.
Before you discuss anything with the debt collector, ask to see his identification. Take your time and read it carefully. Make notes of all the details the identity document contains. You should make sure that you make a note of the debt collector's name and the name of the organisation he is working for. If there are any additional identity numbers then you should take a note of these as well.
Make sure that any identity document is in date and make a note of that date.
Once you have obtained the basic details, you can then decide whether or not to continue the visit.
If an official form of identity is not provided to you by the debt collector then you should terminate the visit immediately.
If the debt collector will not permit you to make notes from his identification document then terminate the visit immediately.
If you decide not to continue the visit then inform the debt collector that you have nothing to discuss and that you require him to leave. Do not get drawn into any other conversation. A debt collector will try to start getting you to respond to his questions. You should simply respond "I do not want you to be here. Please leave."
You should repeat this in response to any statement or question put to you by the debt collector.
If you decide to allow the visit then remember the following points:-
- The debt collector is there by your permission. He has no court order.
- You are entitled to terminate the visit at any time.
- You are entitled to dictate the terms of the visit.
- You should make it clear at all times that it is you who are in charge of the visit.
- If you wish to terminate the visit, you can do so simply by telling the debt collector that the visit is over. You should then walk away or go into your home and close the door.
- You are not obliged to give reasons or to say anything other than that the visit is ended and that you want the debt collector to leave - "Please leave now"
- If the debt collector does not leave then inform him that you will call the police. (If you do not believe that you will call the police then do not make this threat. You will lose all of your authority and the debt collector will dominate the meeting from that point onwards.)
- If you do call the police, then do not be frightened to call 999. Explain to the police that you are being harassed by a man who has visited you and who refuses to leave your property. Once again, keep calm but if you are frightened, then tell the police that you are frightened and that you believe that you need help.
It is likely that the debt collector will leave at that point.
Be aware that debt collectors are faced with hundreds of threats to call the police every week. Almost every one of these threats is a bluff. It is likely that debt collector will stand his ground until he realises that the police really have been called.
If the debt collector leaves before the arrival of the police, Then call 999 and cancel the call-out..
After the Visit
Once the visit is ended and you are back inside, you should immediately make a detailed note of everything that has happened and of everything which was said. Your witness should do exactly the same thing.
Do this quickly while everything is fresh in your mind.
Even if you did not proceed with the meeting and the debt collector left immediately and without incident, make a close record of everything which occurred.
If you you felt threatened by the visit and you want to complain then you should do so immediately by writing to the DCA and also complaining to the OFT and local Trading Standards under CPUT
If you want to make sure that you receive no more debt collection visits then you should write to the DCA immediately.