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Debt Awareness Week

Debt Collection

Debt collection: what happens when you don’t pay?

How the debt collection process works depends largely upon the situation you’re in.

Factors like how many payments you’ve missed, and how (or if) you’ve communicated with the debt collectors prior to them coming to your home can affect the way creditors and debt collectors behave towards you, as well as the speed at which they act with.

So you know what to expect, we’ve set out what generally happens during the debt collection process and outlined some debt collection advice for consumers so you know what to do if creditors begin chasing you for money.

After missing one or two payments

If you’ve only missed one or two payments on a debt you owe, then your creditors are likely to take a more sympathetic and patient tone in their communications with you. It’s highly unlikely they’ll get debt collectors involved at this point; you’ll probably receive some letters and calls stating how much you owe and when you need to pay it by instead.

Generally speaking, your creditors will take a softer approach with you at this stage and try to convince you to pay rather than threatening action. For more in-depth information about how to deal with your creditors, please look at our creditor section.

After missing more than three payments

Missing three or four payments that you were supposed to make will result in your creditors taking more severe steps against you. You may notice that the language in letters or calls from them becomes much more serious, and they may mention that they’re going to pass your case onto a debt collection agency if you don’t pay what you owe soon.

Another important reason you should try and address your debt problem before it gets this stage is to protect your credit score. Missing this many payments on your debt could cause your account to default, something which will have a serious negative effect on your credit score and make it much harder to get good deals on credit in the future.

If you’ve missed three or more payments to your creditors then please get in touch with us for debt collection advice; we may be able to help you with a debt solution that can reduce your monthly payments, stop your creditors from contacting you and allow you to write off a portion of your debt.

After missing five or more payments

At this point your creditors are going to step up their efforts drastically. It’s very likely that they’ll have passed your details onto debt collectors at this point (some of the most common ones in the UK include Lowell debt collection, LCS debt collection and Advantis debt collection) and the debt collectors will have probably contacted you themselves at this stage.

You should have also received a lot more calls and letters from your creditors warning you of action, and they may have also mentioned that they’re considering taking you to court to get back the money you owe them.

If debt collectors have already contacted you and you feel they’re acting unreasonably or harassing you, it’s very important that you know your rights and how to deal with them. It might also be the case that bailiffs begin contacting you if debt collectors don’t recover the funds that you owe. Bailiffs are different to debt collectors, and have more powers under the law to collect debt; you can find out what these are on our bailiffs advice page.

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you seek help from a debt management company at this point. Dealing with creditors and debt collectors at an advanced stage such as this on your own can be incredibly stressful and worrying.

You can speak to one of our kind, compassionate debt advisers confidentially by calling 0800 316 1833 between the hours of 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. You can also get a personalised debt solution by using PlanFinder, our online debt solution tool.

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