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Debt Collection News Roundup – April 2019

Here at Access Credit Management we like to make sure we keep our readers up to date with all of the interesting and relevant news about our industry.  To this end, once a month we publish a News Roundup.  This should keep you up to speed with all the important goings on within the sector so that you have a resource that keeps you fully informed of all the latest news.  It would be interesting to know what you, the readers, think of the stories that feature here.  Please join in by adding your comments on our Facebook page, tweeting on Twitter or email us if you come across anything that you think we should include.

With charities here in the UK reporting a sharp rise in cases in which bailiffs use intimidating behaviour (sometimes even entering people’s homes), MPs are calling on regulation to prevent them breaking the rules when collecting debts.  According to the Parliamentary Justice Committee, a regulator is necessary to make sure that those in debt are treated fairly.  Citizens Advice experienced a 16% rise in bailiff-related problems from last year and highlighted the refusal in many cases of the bailiffs to set up affordable payment schedules.  Of those helped by Citizens Advice, 60% were females and 35% were disabled or with long-term health problems, with 11% experiencing mental health issues.  These are the most vulnerable members of our society and MPs are calling for a complaints process to be instigated so that problems can be dealt with independently of the bailiff industry and outside the court systems.

Meanwhile, a timely reminder of just how much a problem can grow if it’s not attended to immediately and nipped in the bud.  Citizens Advice has been warning the public that outdated council tax regulations encourage local authorities to use heavy-handed methods of collecting arrears, leading to serious financial harm for residents.  When somebody falls behind on their Council Tax, they become liable for the remainder of their annual bill after just two weeks!  Two types of fees are then added to the original debt, court costs (usually £84) and bailiff fees (usually £310).  This means that a missed council tax payment of £167 in the first month of the fiscal year could become more than £2,000 in just nine weeks.  The manner in which local authorities recover unpaid council tax is set to be reviewed, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government pledging to make the council tax collection system “fairer and more efficient”.

Finally, a timely reminder for debt collection agencies about the need to deal with personal data in a stringent manner.  A data breach resulted in a woman mistakenly receiving debt collection letters for other people.  Receiving personal information about others in this way is a clear breakdown of the data storage and protection process, a security breach that should not have happened and must be avoided in future at all costs.  This is a perfect opportunity for all business owners and local authorities to check that they are compliant when it comes to data protection.