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How debt collection works in the UK

By Pierre Haincourt, Credit Limits International/TCM UK | Aug 24, 2020

Debt collection is a growing industry in the UK, with both businesses and consumers across the country defaulting on payments every day. Contacting a debt collection agency is the best way to make sure your money is recovered, but what process will a debt recovery agency in the UK use? It depends on whether your creditor is a business or a consumer.

B2B debt recovery

It is very easy to start a business in the UK. All you need is £100 in your pocket, and you can buy a company and make yourself its director. This is why it is so important to vet businesses before you work with them because they can be worth nothing at all.

The first step in B2B debt recovery is contacting the business. When a business is uncontactable, this is usually because they’ve stopped trading; it’s easy enough to see if a business is still trading by contacting the business’s accountants.

When dealing with B2B debts, it is possible to use many methods to trace and contact a business even when trading has ceased to find an appropriate solution to get debts paid.

Consumer debt recovery

When recovering debts from consumers, the most difficult thing is finding the debtor. The UK has no compulsory register of citizens, which means tracing and locating debtors – particularly those who may move around a lot – can be very difficult.

It is possible to search privately owned databases for debtors, which allows debt collection agencies to follow debtors as they move and stay in contact. Contact to consumers will usually start in the form of letters, phone calls, and emails, before progressing to include SMS texts and face-to-face visits.

Consumer debt collection in the UK today isn’t what it once was; today, there is a moral duty on the recovery agency to respect people in financial difficulties and work together to create a repayment plan which works for both the debtor and the creditor. Other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau also work closely with agencies to ensure debtors’ wellbeing is a priority.

What happens when people don’t pay?

When these methods fail, it is time to take the matter to the courts. Undefended cases are usually resolved very quickly, while defended cases may take up to six to nine months in cases where under £10,000 is owed, or up to three years when the amount is more than this.

Once judgment has been granted by the Court, the Enforcement Officer will take care of initial enforcement action, trying to achieve face to face contact with debtors to collect payment or seizing any identifiable movable assets including cars, boats and aeroplanes. For everything else -seizing debtor’s salary, registering a Charge on debtors’ property or attaching money that may be owed to debtors from third parties – applications need to made to the Court by the creditor or his Solicitor.

Always take information before doing business

If you’re ever in a position where you have to undergo enforcements proceedings to recover money, you’ll need information. Your debtor’s identity, bank account details, and any money they are owed themselves will all prove vital information for enforcement. For this reason, it is important to always take a customer or business’s details before you do business; they will not refuse at this point, and you can make sure they will always pay up.

For more information, have a look at our latest video about Debt Collection in the UK https://youtu.be/ykmlLrlcjJc. Credit Limits International is a Debt Recovery Agency  established in the UK specialising in Debt Collection and International Debt Collection


TCM Group Global Debt Collection
Pierre Haincourt
Credit Limits International/TCM UK

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