OFT updates its guidance on debt collection
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has updated its Debt Collection Guidance, which sets out the standards required of any business involved in recovering consumer credit debts.
The revised guidance highlights specific practices that the OFT considers to be unfair, such as using Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to contact debtors.
It says that it is not acceptable to contact debtors at unreasonable times or inappropriate places, such as when they are a patient in hospital.
The guidance also warns against the misuse of continuous payment authority to recover debts, such as making recurring attempts to recover a single repayment.
It highlights the responsibilities of all parties involved in the debt recovery process, including creditors, for the quality and level of information they maintain and exchange with others, in order to avoid the wrong person being pursued for a debt.
It also provides greater clarity on the OFT's position on issues such as reasonably queried and disputed debt, and statute barred debt.
The OFT stresses that debt recovery businesses should adopt appropriate practices and procedures for dealing with particularly vulnerable debtors.
David Fisher, the OFT's Director of Consumer Credit, said: “In the present economic climate, with many people, including those who may be particularly vulnerable, in financial difficulties, it is crucial they are treated fairly by companies recovering their debts.
“This updated guidance makes clear the standards the OFT expects of all businesses involved in debt recovery, including debt collectors, banks and law firms.”
Please contact Deborah Rupping if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of credit control and debt collection.