How to Deal with Debt Collectors

by from, Last Updated: 12 January 2015

Knowing how to deal with a debt collection company if you're approached for money can ensure you're not intimidated or mislead. Here's how to handle debt collectors and avoid the traps they set to get you to pay up.

collector man talks to woman

While all companies need a way to collect outstanding debts, there are rules and guidelines that should be observed by debt collection companies.

Unfortunately they don't always keep to these and have been known to use under-hand, dishonest and sometimes borderline illegal tactics when it comes to debt collection - this means you really need to be on your guard if you're approached.

Here's how to deal with debt collectors if they come calling:

Find out what you owe and to whom

The first step when dealing with a debt collector is to find out exactly what they want, where the debt they are collecting has come from and how much they believe you owe.

You should write to the debt collection agency in question asking for a copy of your original credit agreement (they must legally provide this) and telling them that you wish only to be contacted be post - this should prevent telephone calls and home visits which are difficult to keep track of.

It is important to do this before you acknowledge that you owe them any money.

It if transpires that you have no knowledge of the debt in question then you should inform the debt collection agency in writing that this is not your debt, and that you will contact the Trading Standards if they contact you again about it.

What to do if you owe money and can pay?

If the debt is question is legitimate and you can afford to clear some or all of it, the easiest solution is just to pay up.

Delaying unnecessarily is likely to lead to further hassle from the debt collection company and could lead to court action and the appointment of bailiffs in the long run.

Don't just hand over cash to the debt collection company or bailif - instead you should ask for a final bill to be sent to your home (in writing) and pay by cheque or debit/credit card.

If you must make payment in cash then it's vital you get a reciept and written acknowledgement that the debt has been paid in full.

Once you have settled you should also make sure the company updates your credit file to show that the debt is now satisfied.

What to do if you owe money and can't pay?

If you can't afford to pay the debt you may be able to agree a repayment plan with the debt collection agency, even if this is a nominal amount each month.

However, before you contact them to negotiate a plan you should seek advice from an independent charity such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, StepChange or the National Debt Line.

Once you have contacted a money charity you should be given a grace period of up to 30 days by the debt collection agency to all to allow you to sort your finances and establish how much you can afford to pay.


Any debtor who objects to these terms prior to contracting has not only been amongst the few debtors who actually reads the terms before entering into business but is also indicating that they have every intention of not paying their debts as and when they full due. If however these terms are provided and not objected to prior to an order being placed, then the creditor can feel confident of either receiving payment in good time, or having a solicitor who can act for them on conditional fee agreement without the restrictions imposed by Jackson.

by melgil, 20 May 2013

hi there, if i pay monthly to clear a debt, do i have to tell them my income?

by davepg, 11 Jun 2013

How do you deal with 'ficticious' retrospective invoices. That are being enforced by a debt collection agency?

by colin49, 12 Jul 2013

ref my earlier response. Having written to the recovery company refuting the alledged debt I am still getting letters and calls ignoring the contents of my letters.
I have received two calls from the same person to which I responded politely explaining the situation only to have the phone slammed down on both occasions before completing my reply. I have received a letter giving me the names of the enforcement personnel who will be visiting. At what point does intimidation register?
Whilst I am capable of standing my ground if confronted, I am not too happy about my 73 years old wife having to deal with a unproven and therefore unjustified situation if I am not present.

by colin49, 12 Jul 2013

I have already been made bankrupt. Lost my home and my business. I was hoping to sell up and come out of all this with all my creditors paid at least enough to start again,
Then the sale of the business fell through after eight months of being messed around.
I am living in sheltered housing and am trying to get my life back on track.
But have now been approached by a new creditor for a bill en cured in the last month prior to being repossessed. A simple thing to sort out you would think. But they refused to send me a copy of the bill so that i can look at it. What would normally be a monthly telephone bill of under £50, is due to ending a contract before its renewal date is £886.03p. I have made an offer to pay this off in installments of £20 a month. they refused to accept this. and have asked for £50. i have had a lot of correspondence with them and our last telephone conversation we agreed on £50. a month. They insisted on me paying £20. immediately and would send me a payment plan on the £50 pound payment. today i have recieved the plan for only three monthly payments of £50,00. But the want the first payment Friday and that means I am having to find £70 this month. how can I stop this preasure from them they do not listen to a thing I say.

by martin2104, 18 Mar 2014

How is it paid, can you send a smaller payment without their permission, and a letter saying this is all you can afford, better still can you go to the citizens advice and ask them to help, Do Not agree to pay more than you can afford, you just can't live on whatever they leave you with, stand up for your rights, if you can't afford £50 pay them less, if they call you up, repeatedly, report them for harassment, in fact don't answer the call

by maggi0, 30 Apr 2014

I like your blog very much! It is found me so interesting and informative... Thanks very much for sharing this amazing information over here...

by justinalbert, 26 May 2014

I also had this problem I don't think that bailiffs had got hold of it but not far off. I contacted the local authority involved(South Cams dc) I told them that i was living on benefits. Told them what i could afford and we cam to an agreement. I never disputed that i owed them the money, because i did.
they will want to know what you are earning. but also what your other commitments are. my debt was not as high as yours but I now pay £3.60 per week.

by martin2104, 27 May 2014

I have a very old Council tax bill of £1200 (and odds), I have Just got back into regular employment, but this bill has already gone to bailiffs who refuse to negotiate or accept a lesser payment than the entire amount, which of course I cannot pay. WHAT to do?!? I realise I should have said something to someone LONG ago, but, as with so many debts, just buried my head and tried to ignore. how do I deal with this NOW?

by Beyondstruggling, 27 May 2014

Hi Beyondstruggling, and welcome.

I'm sorry to hear of your problems. As a matter of urgency, please contact the Citizens Advice Bureau who will give you free, impartial, professional advice.
Advice by phone is available from all Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB). ... offer free, confidential, impartial and independent advice from over 3,500 locations.

Good luck!

by Feline123, 27 May 2014

How long debt collectors can come after us if we leave the country?

by mercin, 4 Jun 2014

You should not run away from your debt. face it head on and a eventually you will come out on top. what you do not want to do is be looking over your shoulder all the time. Even if you go down the road of being bankrupt.
bankruptcy is a solution not a crime. and you can then look forward and not backwoods. I still have people asking me for money. Some will work with you others will get stroppy. but be honest. you can ask the court to help you. and they know that. it is about being reasonable.

by martin2104, 4 Jun 2014

mercin, its 6 years, if you clear out the country, they will stop chasing you and you wont owe them anything when you come back, i did this and when i came back to england i had a credit card again after 3 months with no trace of my old debt

by deagle, 21 Aug 2014
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