Bailiffs have come under fire from debt charity stepchange after reports have suggested a number of bailiffs are using intimidation tactics and not dealing with debtors correctly. AYOM looks into what it takes to effectively recover a debt without using these out of date methods.

Bailiffs have come under scrutiny in recent months due to their methods. With bailiffs being a last resort for many creditors, they are an important part of debt collection. While they do have powers to seize goods and enter property, they should still do so professionally. Debt collection is an industry with a chequered past. As a first port of call, we attempt to resolve debts before bailiffs become involved. With bailiffs facing criticism for their actions, collectors are hoping to rescue the industry’s face while investigations are ongoing.

Bailiffs ‘breaking the rules’

Citizen’s advice and Stepchange recently published a report suggesting people were experiencing unlawful practices every day. These included collectors flouting the law and bailiffs using intimidation tactics. Over 2.2 million people according to statistics experienced bailiffs pushing legal limits. With last April’s promise by the Ministry of Defence (MoJ) to tackle these practices, it seems the problem hasn’t yet been curbed.

MPs are now being lobbied to introduce independent regulation. According to the reports, debtors are facing unsympathetic treatment, threats, goods needed for work removed and forced entry. Citizens Advice estimated households are £19bn in bill arrears and need assistance to help pay them off. The role of debt collection in that process needs to be proactive rather than intimidating.

Chief Executive of Stepchange, Mr Phillip Andrew spoke to press about the report. “The fact is that all the main debt advice charities are continuing to see too many cases where bailiffs are breaking the rules. This is completely unacceptable, especially as the people on the receiving end are often distressed, vulnerable and un-empowered.”

Debt collectors and mental health

Last month we discussed debt collectors and their role in mental health. Debt collection for UK households requires a particular level of knowledge. Debtors may find themselves in difficult positions requiring adequate mediation. Adopting an aggressive stance immediately could have a detrimental effect on the debtor. Not only is this ineffective for debt collection, it places unfair additional stress on the debtor.

Bailiffs should only be a last resort and even then, should not be taking aggressive, intimidating approaches. Debt collection is the first port of call before legal entities should become involved such as bailiffs. As such, our role as collectors can be more advisory than threatening. The statistics do point towards a number of collection agencies operating above that remit. As a long standing member of the community, this is something AYOM strongly opposes.

Debt collection as an industry often includes bailiff services. As such public opinion of bailiffs feed into the industry as a whole. As a leading member of the debt collection industry, AYOM prides ourselves on treating debtors fairly regardless of the debt. With high review scores from both clients and debtors, AYOM looks to lead the way with debt collection that is effective and ensures both parties are able to accept a resolution.

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New age of debt collection

Both debt collectors and bailiffs need to work to shake off old clichés. The industry must change and must value mediation over intimidation. With access to advice and help widely available now, debtors can create a real problem for poorly performing collectors or bailiffs. In our experience, conversation, asking questions and determining facts is the ideal way to find a resolution.

If you’d like to know more about debt collection and our role as collectors, see our blog on the role of collectors in credit control. Alternatively you can call our advisers on 0800 130 3357 to discuss credit control and our processes or you can email for more information.

Embrace the new age of debt collection with the gold standard. Ensure your debts get resolved efficiently, effectively and positively.

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