If you believe that you are the victim of harassment by your creditors there are a number of things that you can do to try and stop this.
There are some simple changes you can make yourself which should reduce the amount of contact that you receive from your creditors. On top of these you also have the option of issuing a formal complaint against the offending creditor and escalating this to the Financial Ombudsman if necessary.
Creditor harassment is taken very seriously by both the Financial Ombudsman and the Courts. In one particular Court case in 2011 the Judge decided that the credit card company MBNA and debt purchaser Link Financial had unreasonably hounded an individual with phone calls and letters.
The judge said that that their actions were harassment and this lead him to rule that the debt was unenforceable and it had to be written off.
Actions you can take yourself to reduce creditor harassment
1. Screen incoming calls
Use the incoming caller display recognition on your phone to screen incoming calls. If the number is marked as “Unknown” or is any other number you do not recognise then do not pick it up.
2. Change your telephone number
Even if you screen your incoming calls this will not reduce the volume of calls that you receive from your creditors. Ultimately the only way to guarantee that creditors will stop calling you is to change your telephone number. You are perfectly at liberty to do this if you wish.
BMD Tip: If you do not want to change your number then an alternative option is to set up a call baring facility on the telephones that you use. For landlines BT have a service called “Choose to Refuse” which might help if you are getting a lot of calls from an unpleasant creditor. If you frequently receive unwanted or nuisance calls from a particular number you can block that number. You can block up to 10 numbers. If you change your mind, you can lift the block whenever you like and allow the caller to contact you again. There is a monthly charge for this feature and you will need to order it before you can use it. The charge is normally c£4 per month. If you are receiving unwanted calls on your mobile then you need to contact your provider about their specific incoming call barring service.
3. Withhold your number before calling creditors
If you decide to call any of your creditors it is advisable to activate a withhold your number service before making the call. If you do not do this they will record your telephone number when you call and then use this to start contacting you. If your are calling from a BT landline then dial 141 before making calls and this will withhold your number. If you are calling from your mobile then make sure that the function to withhold your number when making calls is switched on on your phone.
4. Inform the creditor that they should not contact you at work
It can be both distracting and embarrassing if you receive calls from your creditors while you are at work. Embarrassing you like this is against the OFT’s guidance regarding unreasonable and harassing behaviour. If you do not wish to receive calls from your creditor while you are at work either on your work number or mobile it is your right to demand that stop doing this. If they refuse then this would certainly be evidence of harassment.
How to make a formal complaint about harassment
If all the attempts you have made to reduce the contact that you are receiving from your creditors has failed and you are still being bombarded with unreasonable levels of collection letters and phone calls either from the creditor themselves or their appointed debt collection company then it is time to issue a formal complaint against them. The way to do this is as follows:
1. Collect evidence of harassment
First of all it is important that you collect evidence of the harassment you are experiencing so that you can highlight this to the creditor and other authoritative bodies such as the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) if necessary. Collect your evidence by simply keeping a record of all the telephone calls or home visits that you receive. Note the date, time, name of the person to whom you spoke with. Make a note of what was said and the company from which they are calling.
2. Write a letter of complaint to the creditor who is harassing you
Writing a letter of complaint is very easy to do. The best way is to use the Beat My Debt harassment letter template. Simply send us an e-mail and we will send you the template.
You should amend the template letter for it to apply to either one person or to more. The text highlighted in blue can be kept in the letter or deleted. Not all the issues listed in blue text will apply so take your time and delete anything you do not need. When you have finished, before you print the letter, change the entire text to black, read it though to make sure it makes sense.
If you are writing to a debt collecting company you should also copy your letter to the original creditor for their information. Post the original including any evidence of harassment you have collected to the creditor using the post office’s recorded delivery service.And remember to KEEP a copy – It is important to also keep copies of all your correspondence to and from creditors for reference purposes.
3. Escalating your complaint
Writing to your creditor will often help to reduce the amount of contact you get from them. However if this fails to stop the harassment you should report the issue to the financial ombudsman.
For more information about escalating a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman see the consumer complaints section of their website.