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Debt Collection News Roundup – March, 2017

Here at Access Credit Management we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with what’s going on the international debt collection industry.  We aim to bring our readers interesting and relevant news about the sector so once a month we publish a News Roundup.  This should keep you up to speed with all the important happenings in the industry and provide you with a valuable resource that that you can use to stay fully informed of all the latest news.  It would be interesting to know what you, the readers, think of the stories that feature here.  You can let us know by email or by commenting on our Facebook Page or on our Twitter feed.

First up is the story of a woman in County Durham who has received a letter from a debt collection agency claiming that she had a debt of nearly £2,000 with the Automobile Association, the original agreement having been taken out in December of 1986!  The debt collection agency in question make a practice of buying old debts for pennies and then attempting to recover a percentage of the original debt.  According to the AA, it has never had dealings with the agency in question which claims to have bought the debt in 2007.   Advice to anybody receiving a similar letter is urged to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.

A new report commissioned by a coalition of debt advice charities, titled “Taking Control” reveals that the law covering enforcement agents in England and Wales is failing to protect those in financial difficulty from unfair treatment.  The charities have called on local authorities to take a leading role in ensuring that debt collection practices are fair, adding that local authorities are the largest users of enforcement agencies, passing on 2.1 million debts in the year 2014 – 2015 alone.  The report found evidence of intimidating behaviour, failing to accept affordable payment offers and failing to take account of vulnerable clients.  A Citizens’ Advice spokesperson revealed that harsh tactics not only cause distress, but are likely to push people even further into debt.

A new report reveals that a survey of around 1.600 frontline collections and specialist staff rom 27 UK lenders and debt collection agencies has disclosed that staff frequently deal with suicide calls!  The report by the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) has brought to light the fact that over a 12 month period, 657 conversations took place between frontline collections staff and customers that were believe to be at serious risk of suicide.  The survey data has been used to develop 21 commercially realistic but practical steps to be shared across the credit industry for the benefit of clients which can be adapted for use in sectors such as telecoms, retail, utilities and government.  The guide contains strategies that can help frontline staff deal with issues such as serious or terminal illness, addiction, mental health issues and bereavement.