Though debt can happen to anyone, this doesn’t give creditors permission to embarrass people, call them at all hours of the day or threaten individuals. In fact, there are creditor harassment laws in Scotland to protect people from such issues. Citizens are protected by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in the United Kingdom (UK). This means that people are protected under the law from creditors harassing them via phone, mail or in person. The following includes some of the rights that people have under this Act.
Different Types of Creditors
Today, there are different types of creditors that could be pursuing an overdue account. For example, original creditors can include everyone from a small bank to a credit card company. However, a debt collection agency may be hired by a creditor to collect on an overdue account. There are also groups out there who will buy debts or overdue accounts from creditors and pursue them. Anyone that is dealing with a creditor needs to find out who is making the phone calls or sending correspondence.
Basics of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 says that every citizen has the right to be free and protected from harassment. This means that creditors cannot call outside of traditional business hours and need to avoid placing pressure on people selling their home, vehicles or possessions to pay debts. Creditors must inform people if they pass the debt to another agency or group and need to be clear about who they are and what they want from a person. Never can creditors mislead people with unofficial letterhead and logos or threaten physical harm. If creditors ever try to publicly embarrass an individual or lie about court action or criminal offences, then they are in violation of Scotland creditor harassment laws.
Creditors are allowed to pursue a debt. However, they just need to take the appropriate steps. For example, they are allowed to send reminders for payment and make phone calls during regular business hours. Additionally, they can send correspondence and explain payment options and may be able to take court action if a debt is long overdue without effort to repay the balance. However, they are not allowed to mislead or harass people in their daily lives. Understanding this fine line is important so that individuals can protect themselves.
How to Proceed
If a person is being harassed by creditors, it is important that they immediately ask the creditor, collection agency or debt collector to cease such communications. This should be done not only on the phone but also in writing. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a great resource to reach out to when dealing with creditor harassment issues. This group can explain one’s options and how to best proceed. Lastly, it is smart to talk to law enforcement if the behaviour doesn’t stop. No one should ever feel harassed by a creditor because an account is overdue. This is why there are creditor harassment laws in place to protect Scotland citizens.
Collect All Evidence
Whenever harassment happens, it is important to collect all evidence. This will help when talking to law enforcement and if charges are to be brought. People need to document when phone calls happened, all correspondence between the creditor and individual, the amount of the debt and when documentation was sent. If there are any witnesses to the harassment, they should document what they saw and experienced. The Citizens Advice Bureau can guide people so they know what to document.
Contact a Professional Body
It is important to research the creditor who is performing the harassing behaviour. They may belong to a professional trade association or some other group. If so, it is appropriate to contact the body and reference any code of practices that the group follows. This could apply the right pressure on the creditor so that they cease with the harassing actions. One can also contact the Traditional Standards Office, law enforcement and other professionals.
Damages, Fines and Prison Time for Harassment
If a creditor is convicted on harassment, they could be asked to award damages to people, especially if financial loss or anxiety has been caused by such harassment. Additionally, they may face fines, prison time up to two years or both a fine and a prison sentence. If physical harm is threatened, creditors could face up to seven years in prison in addition to fines.
It is important that people take action if a creditor has in fact crossed the line and has been harassing them. There is no reason to receive early morning or late night phone calls or have people threaten them for not paying their debts. Understanding Scotland’s laws helps people respond if they are the victims of such harassment. No one should ever have to worry about being woken up by creditors or afraid to leave their home. When in doubt, it is important to talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau. This organization can help people further understand how creditor harassment laws work in Scotland. Delaying will only worsen the situation. It is important that creditors understand they are harassing people and that this is not only wrong but against the law.