In the UK, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) establishes guidelines for debt collectors and creditors regarding permitted and prohibited debt collection practices. Creditors are issued Consumer Credit Licenses by the OFT, which permit them to legally lend money to consumers. If a collector is discovered to have engaged in unfair practices regarding consumer debt, it could have its license revoked.
Unless a debtor has a business debt, a debt collector may not pay a visit to the debtor’s place of employment. Debtors can specifically request that a creditor not contact them at work because this action could jeopardize their job. If the creditor disregards this, such action could be considered an unfair practice, subjecting the creditor to license revocation.
Whenever a debt collector contacts a debtor by sending a letter, paying a visit, or by phone, certain requirements must be met. Collectors must clearly identify who they are, their role, the reason they are contacting the debtor, and what agency or organization they represent. Any unhelpful technical language designed to mislead or confuse a debtor is not permitted.
Anytime a debtor makes a request regarding where and when to be contacted, the debt collector must adhere to the request, regardless of whether it relates to work or home. If contact continues to be
made despite the debtor being ill, seeking medical advice, or suffering from an ailment related to the situation, this may be considered an unfair practice. In these situations, the collector is deemed to be placing undue pressure on the debtor.
The OFT investigates all situations, handling each in a case-by-case manner. When creditors are discovered to be engaging in unfair tactics, the OFT may elect to revoke their license. Even if a creditor appoints a third party to do the collecting, it is responsible for the actions of this other entity.