Can debt collectors take your possessions?

Worried that a debt collector will take your TV, your car or even your wages direct from your employer? We explain whether they can do this and what you can do about it.

Updated on 20 May 2015.

Couple being evicted from house

Different rules apply to bailiffs and debt collection companies when it comes to seizing possessions so it is important to know which you are dealing with.


There are set rules on what bailiffs can and can't take from your property.

Bailiffs cannot take the following:

Compare Debt Management
Debt management plans can help you pay debts off before they get any worse. Compare debt management plan providers to find one to cover your type of debt.
Compare Debt Management
  • Things you need for day to day life - clothes, cooker, furniture or tools for work
  • Items that don't belong to you - your partner's or flatmate's possessions

However, they can take luxury items and anything from outside your home, including your car and garden equipment.

Bailiffs can then sell these items to pay your debts and their fees.

Debt collection companies

Unlike registered bailiffs, debt collection companies cannot take your possessions.

They do not have the same legal powers as a bailiff and can only visit your home to discuss repayment of your debts.

Can debt collectors take your wages?

A debt collector or creditor needs court approval before they can take your pay direct from your employer. They will only be able to get this if you've had a CCJ in place for a certain amount of time.

If they get permission (they need something called an attachment of earnings order) it's the court that decides how much money they can take and for how long.

The courts will then be responsible for making arrangements with your employer and for passing the agreed amount to the company you owe money to.

Importantly, if you are unemployed, self employed, in the armed forces or the merchant navy your creditor, or the debt collection company operating on their behalf, cannot apply for an attachment of earnings order.

For more information on how a company can take money directly from your pay, visit the Citizen's Advice Bureau website.

Written by at

Further reading...

How to deal with debt collectors

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.

Are debt collectors allowed to harass you?

We explain exactly how and when debt collectors are allowed to contact you so that you can prepare yourself for when they call, and complain when they've overstepped the mark.

Can't afford to go bankrupt? Here are your options

You may be surprised just how expensive bankruptcy can be if you have excessive debts. We look at what alternatives are available and where to find the support you need to tackle your own financial crisis.

Can debt collectors take money from your bank account?

Worried that cash will be taken from your bank account by companies you owe money to? We explain whether this is likely and what you can do about it.