In Debt? What's the Worst that Can Happen?

by from, Last Updated: 12 January 2015

Being in debt and struggling to pay your bills can be both frustrating and stressful, especially if you are feeling pressured into making repayments you simply can't afford. But how far can companies actually go to reclaim what's theirs?

Older couple looking at bills on sofa

If you're struggling to repay money you've borrowed not knowing where you stand can make the situation even more nerve-wracking.

Debt collection companies and bailiffs have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, harassing people at work and threatening to throw those that owe in jail.

You'll be relieved to hear that this isn't actually allowed - there are rules and regulations governing the collection of debts that give you some protection. We explain just how far a debt collection company can go before they overstep the mark so you know where you stand.

Who's chasing you for payment?

There's a difference between what debt collection companies and bailiffs are allowed to do to reclaim money. 

It's important to know who you're dealing with so you can be clear on exactly what they might do and what you can do about it.

Whether a debt collector or bailiff is appointed will largely depend on the type of debt you have outstanding.

Debt collection companies are used by banks and building societies to chase unpaid debts on credit cards, overdrafts and loans. They're also used by utility companies, payday loan companies and many non-financial businesses to collect debts.

However, they do not have the same powers as bailiffs and are more restricted in what they can and can't do.

Only if the debt collection company fails to recover your outstanding payments and the company you owe money to successfully takes you to court will a bailiff be appointed.

The exception to this is if you fail to pay your council tax or are convicted of an offence and don't pay a fine. In this instance the Magistrates court can side step the debt recovery route and hire a private bailiff to collect your debt.

What can they do to recover your debts?

In the articles below we answer everything you need to know about what debt collectors and bailifs can and can't do to reclaim money that you owe:


I have an otstanding default on my credit report and it just says communications supplier from 2009. How do I find out who it is from?

by debfis, 10 Oct 2012

Good article, I think more people need to know where they stand with their debts and what can be done.

by dhelpuk, 22 Nov 2012

Really interesting article!

by sarah86, 7 Mar 2014

If you have no way of paying and have no assets, ie expensive car or own your home I suggest u go bankrupt. This will affect your credit file for 6 years (same as bad credit) It will cost about £350 to do so nothing to loose. After about 12 month to 2 years your bankruptcy will be discharge. You can then start to build up your credit again, by applying for a credit card called credit builder. God luck to you All

by susanl85, 12 Oct 2014
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