Harassed over debt
A credit company employee turned up at my work place uninvited and discussed my loan in full view and hearing distance of my work colleagues and customers. He was demanding money in front of all these people. Was this legal? Is there anything I can do about it?
It can be unpleasant to find yourself in a position like this. It's never nice discussing the details of your financial situation within earshot of your colleagues, and this sounds like a particularly distressing situation.
If this action was taken by a debt collector from the company you have a loan with, this could be considered harassment and therefore illegal.
Harassment of people in debt by creditors or their agents is a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The regulations prohibit aggressive commercial practices, including aggressive practices used by creditors to pressurise debtors into paying their debts. The following examples of behaviour may constitute harassment:
- Making demands for payment that are deliberately meant to alarm, distress or humiliate the debtor, their family or household
- Contacting the debtor too frequently, or late at night
- Pressurising the debtor to sell property or to take out more credit
- Using more than one collection company at the same time, or not telling the debtor when the debt has been passed to another company
- Producing any document which appears to have some official character when it does not, or making false claims that a document has some official character when it does not
- Pressurising the debtor to pay in full or in large installments which they cannot afford
- Making threatening gestures or statements
- Ignoring disputes about whether the debtor owes the money
- Trying to embarrass the debtor in public, or threatening to tell a third party about the debts, such as a neighbour or family members
- Falsely claiming to work for the court or to be a bailiff, or, in Scotland, a sheriff officer
- Implying that action can be taken that is not legally possible, such as implying that the debtor's property can be taken without a court order
- Using a business name or logo that implies the debt collector is a government body, for example, the court
- Implying that court action has been taken against the debtor when it has not
- Implying that not paying the debt is a criminal offence
If you believe that the debt-collecting agency has committed an offence your first step would be to write to the company, quoting the fact that their agent has committed an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. After that you could make a formal complaint to a trade association, trading standards, the Office of Fair Trading, a professional body about a solicitor or the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Question answered by CAB