The truth about debt collection companies

My history

I have worked as a debt collector since 1996.  It has been a tough job at times. debtors have driven at me, spat at me, threatened me with my life, and even accused me of GBH in an attempt to evade payment.  I’ve also been locked into an estate and had dogs set upon me.

Indeed, I have seem it all.  Many people will try anything they can to avoid paying their debts.  But some people find themselves in a legitimate situation where they just don’t have the means to pay (can’t pay), and I work with these people to try and help find an amicable resolution.

The others (won’t pay) either need forgetting about, so you can move on with your life, or dealing with if you want recompense.  However, it is important to realise that in some cases, you might not get your money back.  You could spend thousands of pounds and many hours of stress in dealing with debt collectors, solicitors and courts, but these people will never pay you.  It is important to make this clear from the outset.

Debt collection companies

Sometimes it is almost certain that you will need some help with debt collection, but are debt recovery companies the answer for you?

From experience, I have slowly come to realise over the years that the answer to this is quite often  ‘no’!  Sadly, there are many bogus debt collection companies out there.  I know this because I’ve had the displeasure of working for them.

Some debt recovery companies will try and keep your money for as long as they can.  Also they’ll often even agree lower settlements without your authorisation.  They might not even tell you that the money has been recovered.

And if you do eventually get your money, you might have been charged way more than what you expected to pay, often up to 50% of the debt.  No win no fee companies are especially bad for this. It really is a minefield, probably fair to say that there are probably more charlatans out there than legitimate companies.  And even the legitimate debt collection companies can have hidden charges.

If you do decide to use a debt recovery company, look at their accounts on Companies House or a credit checking company, and look at their reviews.  I know of some dodgy debt collectors that will use their debtors to write reviews, or write fake ones.  Make sure you have a good read through a few pages of reviews so that you can formulate a good opinion.  Bad reviews about a debt recovery company aren’t necessarily bad, if they’re from a debtor!

It is a reasonable estimate that I have personally recovered around £50million pounds over the years.  In all honesty, I could have probably done this without working for a debt recovery company.  It’s all about knowing the type of debtor, and how to deal with them.  Better still, you could avoid the situation first by doing some simple checks.  Read on for more.

Losing your money is a bitter pill to swallow

Do you need my help?

Avoid the need for debt collection in the first place

The first thing to consider is whether the person or company you are about to engage with is in a financially viable position to pay you.  And even if they are at the time you give them credit, this might change over time, so you should always monitor them frequently.  If it is an induvial, you can check the insolvency register and registry trust, perhaps also the land registry, to make sure they have no county court judgments, and perhaps some assets.

If it is a company, you can use Creditsafe or one of the main Credit Reference Agencies to perform a credit check on the customer.  If they are a new company with no financial data, you could ask for a personal grantee and refer back to the the paragraph above for personal checks.

You should always ask for I.D. as I have seen many cases where fraudulent details were given, and the person I have been asked to chase is non existent.

Landlords chasing tenants are one of the most prolific sets of debtors I see.  Probably a third of the cases I am asked to look at.  The pre-tenant checks that are carried out just aren’t good enough, and landlords have nowhere to turn, especially when the tenants have absconded.

Do your own debt recovery

  • Check your debtor

    Use a credit checking system for companies, and the insolvency register and registry trust for individuals

  • Monitor them

    Use the same methods above, but do it at least every month

  • If it goes wrong - make contact - be nice!

    In a way it can be proven, like WhatsApp and/or email

  • Try and get a small payment

    It legally acknowledges the debt and extends the 6 year limitation period

  • Serve a formal letter

    Use a Process Server and WhatsApp/Email

  • Consider action

    This is where it gets tricky.  It all depends on whether the debtor has the means to pay.  Subscribe for more help.