How to defend yourself: what debt collection companies can and cannot do
Failure to pay a utility bill, a loan installment, will almost certainly lead to credit recovery actions. This activity is referred to companies or specialized agencies that implement a series of actions aimed at:
- stop the payment prescription (10 years for loans and 5 years for utilities);
- get the payment of the due plus expenses and legal interest.
Having said that defending against aggressive credit recovery by specialized companies or agencies is possible and even a duty. To do this you need to know your rights knowingly, so as to exclude everything that a debt collection agent cannot do.
Rights of the debtor
The debtor has the right to:
- be contacted at appropriate times and locations. As for the times, calls are not allowed outside of working hours and carried out with excessive frequency (at most one phone call per day and in any case not on consecutive days, but respecting intervals that are ‘tolerable’);
- to know the data of who is contacting him and his aims clearly : the operator must give his name and surname and say for which debt collection company he is working, adding also the company that boasts the credit, its amount and the expiration of what was due and how much will have to be paid;
- not be called at work or with relatives or friends. If this should happen to find the debtor otherwise unattainable, the purpose of this research should not be given to third parties;
- enjoy respect for your privacy : there must not be posted at the place of work, home or other places frequented by the debtor showing the debt or other information that goes to harm his privacy;
- receive a correct communication without threats and without insults or other ;
- having ensured respect for one’s home : no one can enter by force or prevent access to the debtor to the house. These facts are reprehensible and punishable by law.
What the agent can’t do
The debt collection agency usually uses its own employees who are paid commission on the amounts they have to pay. If these qualify as “lawyers” (or similar) then you need to go deep and ask for clarification, since a lawyer cannot be an employee of a company.
Furthermore, debt collection agents can never qualify as debt collectors, claim to have the right to enter the domicile or place of the debtor’s work, etc. Other things that agents cannot do and therefore need to know so as to defend themselves against aggressive debt collection are:
- recording of the call without the debtor’s consent, who can instead register without notifying the agent;
- threaten in any way ;
- send ‘generic’ administrative deeds that refer to the start of a procedure in court (these deeds must be named and report all the data to allow the due checks to the debtor or whoever assists him);
- impose a meeting, go home and try to enter it without authorization ;
- give a different name or spend the name of any “company” ;
- talk about the debt with a family member, relative, cohabitant, friends, etc.
The most used forcing
It may also be useful to know the techniques most used by the debt collection agents to leverage the urgency of paying off the debt, and which are:
- imminent arrival of a judicial officer at home or at work : for this figure to arrive it is necessary that the procedure for forced execution has been activated, which gives the title, with a precept, to this communication. If the injunction has not been notified then the judicial officer cannot arrive to start the forced execution procedure;
- mortgage registration on the debtor’s house in the event of non-payment in the short term : also in this case there must first be notification of the injunction and all the procedures relating to forced execution;
- registration as a bad payer to the Crif Risk Center : this is a possibility that only concerns the loan installments by banks or financial companies. Furthermore the registration procedure takes place automatically as soon as a certain delay time has passed for each installment (ranging from 30 to 60 days);
- arrival of the debt collector: the figure of the debt collector is used by the tax collection companies in agreement with the Revenue Agency or INPS as he used to do the now ‘extinct’ Equitalia. In the case of debt collection we are talking about employees of specialized companies which, we reiterate once again, do not have any instrument that justifies forced entry into the debtor’s domicile or other form of forcing them into obtaining payment.
Conclusions: guarantor or consumer association?
Defending against aggressive debt collection is sometimes possible only by contacting consumer associations or companies specialized in defending citizens and their rights. This is because, especially when there is a need to turn to the law, one must know the field in which one is moving.
This will allow to evaluate also a hypothesis of reporting these behaviors to the competent authorities and to see if there are the elements for the claim to be actually existing or, possibly, prescribed.
Finally, faced with obvious situations of illegality, we can also directly contact the guarantor for privacy who in recent years has intervened in this regard on several occasions.