What Is a Debt Collector and Why Are They Contacting Me?

What Is a Debt Collector and Why Are They Contacting Me?

A debt collector might sound like a character from a Charles Dickens novel, but if you’ve been contacted by one, you know they’re very much a reality of modern financial life. So, what exactly is a debt collector? Simply put, it’s an individual or a debt collection agency in the UK employed by a creditor to retrieve funds that are overdue.

If you’re receiving calls or letters stating that you owe money, it’s likely that the original company you owed has handed over the task of chasing the payment to these business recovery specialists. Let’s take a closer look at the role of debt collection agencies and what your rights are when interacting with them.

What Is a Debt Collector?

A debt collector is an entity, often a third-party agency, hired by creditors to recover funds that are past due or accounts that are in default. The legal framework governing their actions varies from country to country, with rules specifying how and when they can contact debtors, what they can say, and the measures they can take to collect the owed amount.

In the UK, debt collection companies operate under strict regulations set forth by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). These guidelines are designed to protect consumers and ensure fair debt collection practices.

Why Are They Contacting Me?

Debt collectors reach out for one clear reason: you likely have an unpaid debt that has been reported as delinquent. Here are a few reasons why their efforts have become directed at you:

      • Unsettled Balances: If you have forgotten to pay or have missed payments on loans, credit cards, or utility bills, these outstanding amounts can result in debt collectors making contact.

      • Sold Debt: Sometimes, the original creditor sells the debt to a collection agency if they have been unsuccessful in collecting the debt themselves. This transfer of debt obligation brings the collector to your doorstep, figuratively speaking.

      • Inaccuracies in Records: There are instances where you may not actually owe the debt. This could be due to administrative errors or identity theft. Always verify the claim before proceeding.

    • Statute-Barred Debt in the UK: In the UK, debts are usually subject to a limitation period; if a debt is ‘statute-barred,’ collectors have limited legal recourse. However, they may still try to recover the debt through communication with you.

Understanding Debt Collection Practices

      • Legal Collection Tactics: Debt collectors are restricted in their practices by laws that prevent harassment, unfair treatment, or deceptive practices. Typical permitted tactics include sending letters, making phone calls, and offering settlement options.

      • Prohibited Actions: Certain actions are expressly prohibited, such as threatening physical harm, using obscene language, calling at unreasonable hours, or contacting you at work if you’ve asked them not to.

      • Your Rights: As a debtor, you have rights that you can and should exercise. You have the right to request a written validation of the debt, dispute the debt if you believe it is incorrect, and stipulate how collectors can contact you.

      • Complaints Process: If you feel a debt collector is violating your rights, the FCA provides a mechanism for complaints, and you can also contact organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau for support.

    • Debt Management: Engaging with debt collectors can be the first step in managing and settling outstanding debts. Seek advice from financial advisors or debt counselling services to help navigate the process and examine available options such as payment plans or debt consolidation.

Dealing with Debt Collectors

Rights and Protections for Debtors

As a debtor, it’s crucial to understand the rights and protections that are in place to ensure you’re treated fairly. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) lays out specific rules and regulations that debt collectors must follow. For instance:

      • Right to Fair Treatment: Collectors must treat debtors fairly, without using aggressive tactics, and must not apply undue pressure to pay off debts.

      • Right to a Peaceful Life: Collectors are not allowed to repeatedly call or harass debtors, allowing individuals the right to live without constant stress or interruption.

      • Right to Accurate Information: You are entitled to receive accurate and clear information regarding your debt, and collectors must provide this in writing if requested.

      • Right to Dispute a Debt: If a debt is unfamiliar, or you believe it is incorrect, you have the right to dispute it and ask for full details of the amount owed.

      • Right to Control Communication: You can request that debt collectors only contact you in certain ways — for example, you can insist on no phone contact and only written communication.

    • Rights on Statute-Barred Debts: Even though collectors may reach out about old debts, if they are statute-barred, they cannot force repayment through the courts. However, they may still request payment through other means.

Understanding and utilising these rights can serve as a powerful defense against unfair practices and ensure that debtors maintain their dignity and peace of mind during the debt collection process.

Steps to Take When Contacted by a Debt Collector

      1. Request Written Validation: Upon initial contact, ask the debt collector to provide a written statement detailing the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

      1. Verify the Debt: Check your own records to confirm whether you recognise the debt and if the amount is accurate. Compare it with the written validation received from the collector.

      1. Know the Statute of Limitations: Investigate the debt to understand if it is statute-barred. If it is, you may not be legally required to pay it, although collectors may still seek voluntary repayment.

      1. Communicate Carefully: If you choose to communicate with the collector, do so in writing. This provides a record of all interactions and ensures clarity.

      1. Negotiate a Repayment Plan: If the debt is valid and you’re in a position to repay it, consider negotiating a repayment plan that is manageable for you.

      1. Understand Your Rights: Familiarise yourself with your rights under the law, which protect against harassment and unfair practices by collectors.

      1. Seek Advice: If in doubt, seek advice from a financial advisor or a not-for-profit debt counselling service for guidance on how to proceed.

      1. File a Complaint if Necessary: If you believe a collector has violated your rights, file a complaint with the FCA and reach out to consumer protection groups for assistance.

      1. Keep Good Records: Maintain a file of all communication, both sent and received, including details of phone conversations, copies of written correspondence, and records of any payments made or agreed upon.

    1. Consider Professional Help: If you’re overwhelmed, consider seeking the help of a debt management professional who can assist you in dealing with collectors and strategising your financial plan.


The arrival of a debt collector isn’t the end of the world, but it is a signal to take action. Remember that you have rights, and there are steps you can take to manage the situation. Whether it’s disputing a debt you believe isn’t yours, setting up a payment plan, or even confronting the fact that you need to make major financial changes, knowledge is your tool. Do not ignore the communications from debt collectors; tackle the issue head-on to find a solution.

For those searching for professional assistance, terms like “debt collection companies in the UK“, “no collection no fee debt collection”, “no win no fee debt collection“, “how to choose a collection agency”, and “debt collection fees” are starting points to finding reputable services that suit your needs. Managing debt is a step towards financial freedom, and addressing it responsibly can lead to a more secure future.

About Us

Taurus Collections (UK) Ltd. can be your one-stop destination if you want to successfully boost your odds of collecting debts. Use our  Late Payment Calculator to calculate your outstanding credit amount. We help our clients with certain debt collection services that include:

For more details, call us at 0800 069 8777 or 01332 565 350 (Derby). Send your concerns to enquiries@tauruscollections.com. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Drop by our office -International House, 126 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 3AP, UK.