Harassment by creditors

Mae'r cyngor hwn yn berthnasol i Cymru. Gweler cyngor ar gyfer Gweler cyngor ar gyfer Lloegr, Gweler cyngor ar gyfer Gogledd Iwerddon, Gweler cyngor ar gyfer Yr Alban

Reporting a problem to Trading Standards

Trading Standards deal with complex consumer problems and potential criminal activities.

If you want to report a problem to Trading Standards, you should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, who share information reported to them with Trading Standards.

Creditors are the people you owe money to. If you owe money to a creditor and stop making payments, they can take action against you to get their money back.

This page tells you how creditors are supposed to behave towards you when they are trying to recover their money.

It also tells you what kind of behaviour is not acceptable and how to tell if you are being harassed by a creditor. Harassment is any action that makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened.

If you feel you are being harassed by a creditor, there are several things you can do to stop them doing it.

If you need help talking to a creditor about their behaviour, you can phone our debt helpline on 0800 240 4420.

Mae galwadau am ddim o ffonau symudol a llinellau tir.

You can also get help by contacting your nearest Citizens Advice.

Coronavirus - if you’re struggling to pay your debts

You can check what to do if you can’t pay because of coronavirus.

What counts as harassment by a creditor

If the creditor tries to do any of the following things to try and get you to pay back the money you owe, this could be considered harassment. They include:

  • contacting you several times a day, or early in the morning or late at night

  • pursuing you on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook

  • putting pressure on you to sell your home or take out more credit

  • using more than one debt collector at a time to chase you for payment

  • not telling you if the debt has been passed on to a debt collection agency

  • using paperwork or business logos that appear to be official when they’re not, for example sending you letters that look like court forms

  • putting pressure on you to pay all the money off, or in larger instalments when you can't afford to

  • threatening you physically or verbally

  • ignoring you if you say you don't owe the money

  • trying to embarrass you in public

  • telling someone else about your debts or using another person to pass on messages, such as a neighbour or family member

  • falsely claiming to work for the court or be a bailiff in England and Wales or sheriff officer in Scotland

  • implying that legal action can be taken when it can't. For example, implying that your home can be taken from you without a court order

  • giving the impression that court action has been taken against you when it hasn't

  • giving the impression that not paying the debt is a criminal offence. For most debts, it is not a criminal offence if you don't pay them.

What doesn't count as harassment by a creditor

Not all action that a creditor takes can be called harassment. Creditors are allowed to take reasonable steps to get back the money you owe them. These include:

  • sending reminders and demands for payment

  • telephoning you to ask for payment

  • calling at your home, as long as this is at a reasonable time of the day

  • taking court action.

Who is harassing you

If you’re being harassed by a creditor it's important to know who is asking for payment. They may not be the people you originally owed money to. This is because your original creditor is allowed to pass the debt onto someone else to collect. If your original creditor does this, they can no longer chase you for money. If your creditor decides to pass the debt on, they must tell you in writing before they do it.

Your debt may be collected by:

  • your original creditor

  • a debt collection agency acting on behalf of your creditor

  • a third party who has bought the debt from your creditor

  • bailiffs in England and Wales or sheriff officers in Scotland.

What can you do about harassment by a creditor

You first need to find out who is actually collecting the debt. You then need to take the following steps:

  • collect evidence of the harassment

  • complain to the creditor

  • complain to a professional body.

Collecting evidence

Before you make a complaint, gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim. This can include:

  • recording the number of visits or calls with dates and times. Write down what was said to you each time and who you spoke to

  • any letters or documents you have received

  • witness statements from neighbours or other people who live with you.

Complaining to your creditor

You should write to the creditor who is harassing you asking them to stop. Tell them how you want to be contacted in future and ask them to confirm this in writing.

You should point out in the letter that harassment is a criminal offence and you can take further action if your creditor doesn't stop. Remember to send all letters by recorded delivery and keep copies so that you have a record of your complaint.

After receiving your complaint, your creditor has 3 business days to respond informally. This could be by phone or email. A final response letter might take longer. Your creditor also has to report your complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), even if they respond within 3 business days.

If you need help with this, you can phone our debt helpline on 0800 240 4420.

Mae galwadau am ddim o ffonau symudol a llinellau tir.

You can also get help by contacting your nearest Citizens Advice.

Complaining to a professional body

You should always complain directly to the creditor first but if this does not solve the problem, you may also want to complain to a professional body too. Your debt collector may belong to a trade association or professional body with a code of practice that sets out how they are supposed to behave towards you.

You can also contact the Citizens Advice consumer service who can help. They may be able to refer your case to Trading Standards.

Trade associations

To find out if your lender belongs to a trade association which has a code of practice, see Further Help. The trade association may also take action against its members who break the code of practice.

If your complaint is against a bank, building society or credit card company, they may belong to the Standards of Lending Practice.

The Standards of Lending Practice set out principles that its members should follow. These include:

  • not harassing you or putting too much pressure on you.

  • telling you how to get debt advice.

  • providing support if you are vulnerable, for example if you have physical or mental health problems.

  • using trustworthy debt collection agencies who also follow the Standards of Lending Practice if the debt is passed on or sold.

You should complain to the bank, building society or credit card company first, using their complaints procedure. If this does not sort out the problem, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service, telling them that a debt collector or creditor has broken the terms of the Standards of Lending Practice. For more information about complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service, go to the Financial Ombudsman's website at: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

For more information about the Standards of Lending Practice or to find out if your creditor is a member, go to www.lendingstandardsboard.org.uk.

Complaining about a solicitor acting for a creditor

If a solicitor is harassing you on behalf of a creditor, this is considered to be professional misconduct. To make a complaint, you will first need to use the firm's internal complaints procedure. If this does not resolve the problem, you can complain to one of the professional associations. To work out which association you should complain to, you first need to check where the solicitor is registered.

If they are registered in England or Wales, you can complain to the Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA) at www.sra.org.uk.

If they are registered in Scotland, you can complain to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) at www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk.

If they are registered in Northern Ireland, you can complain to the Law Society. Go to www.lawsoc-ni.org.

Complaining to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service

If you want to complain about a local firm, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. They can put you in touch with your local Trading Standards Office, who can investigate whether an offence had been committed.

Complaining to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA has rules and guidance about debt collection. Although the FCA cannot take up your individual case, they can refuse or revoke the firm's authorisation or, for example, fine the firm. It may be worth reminding the creditor that breaching the rules could affect their FCA authorisation.

More about the FCA rules and guidance on debt collection in the FCA's Consumer Credit Sourcebook at www.fca.org.uk.

Illegal money lending

You may have borrowed money from a money lender who is not FCA authorised. These lenders are often called loan sharks and they may physically or verbally threaten you if you can't pay back the money. They also charge extremely high rates of interest, which means you may end up owing much more money than you originally borrowed.

It's important to remember that loan sharks are breaking the law by lending you money in this way. They can’t enforce the high rates of interest they are trying to charge. You can’t be legally made to pay back the money and you have not broken the law if you don't pay it back.

If you are being harassed or threatened by a loan shark, you can find out how to report a loan shark on GOV.UK. 

Further help and information

Trade and professional associations

Your creditor may belong to one of the following trade or professional associations which have a code of practice that its members must follow. You can find a list of members on the organisations’ websites:

Finance and Leasing Association

Imperial House

15-19 Kingsway



Tel: 020 7836 6511

Fax: 020 7420 9600

E-mail: info@fla.org.uk

Website: www.fla.org.uk

Credit Services Association

2 Esh Plaza

Sir Bobby Robson Way

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE13 9BA

Tel: 0191 217 0775

Email: info@csa-uk.com or complaints@csa-uk.com

Website: www.csa-uk.com

Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA)

Suite 4 The Wave

1 View Croft Road


West Yorkshire

BD17 7DU

Tel: 01274 714959

Fax: 0845 257 1199

E-mail: info@ccta.co.uk

Website: www.ccta.co.uk

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

12 Endeavour Square


E20 1JN

Consumer Helpline: 0800 111 6768 or 0300 500 8082 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm)

Switchboard: 020 7066 1000

Complaints against FCA: 020 7066 9870

Website: www.fca.org.uk

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