What to do if creditors keep phoning you

posted by in Debt

Worried woman on phone

They’ve rung you again…

[Please note: The scenario described in this article is fictional, however the advice listed is factual]

So you’ve had your light bulb moment and you’ve taken that big step and contacted us about your debt problems.

You feel relieved that you’ve admitted you need help and speaking to a debt advisor who explained all your options and offered you some helpful advice.

You’ve been recommended a debt management plan (DMP) and for the first time in ages you now have a plan of action and a way to help you deal with your debts.

Then you get a phone call…

It’s from one of your creditors. At first you think it must be a mistake, you know that we’ve already contacted them on your behalf and they’ve already had one month’s payment through your DMP.

The person on the phone is asking for a higher payment; they’re mentioning doorstep collectors, court action and possible even enforcement agents, unless you pay more!

You get off the phone as soon as you can. You call us immediately as something must have gone wrong.

Your debt advisor explains that the creditor did accept the payment but that they’re within their rights to contact you and ask for more.

This is not what you expected.

How can the creditors be allowed to keep contacting you when you’re making your best efforts to repay them through StepChange Debt Charity?

When you first enter a DMP most creditor action will be to continue the debt collection process. Once you have maintained the DMP for a couple of months, creditors often begin to accept the plan as they have seen your income and expenditure and they can see that your offer of repayment is reasonable and realistic.

Some creditors might decide to continue asking you to make higher payments, even when it’s clear you are paying all you can afford. They are allowed to do this, but it doesn’t always mean you can afford to pay more.

The creditors are also within their rights to contact you by phone, as you have provided this phone number to them, and because you have broken your credit agreement with them.

What are your rights?

Let them know you’re in touch with us and taking our advice. Ask them politely not to call for extra payments as you have already told them about your circumstances and will send detailed information in the form of a budget through the post.

What to do

If a creditor keeps calling…

Set up ‘caller ID’ on your phone or block numbers from a withheld number. Only answer calls from numbers that you recognise. You are within your rights to do this.

They keep ringing and ringing…

Write to them and ask them to remove your number from their records and correspond in writing only. You must continue to open all statements and letters from your creditors but you won’t have to speak to them by phone any longer.

The phone keeps ringing…

If they become so frequent or are made at inappropriate times you may feel like they’re harassing you. Tell them you will make a complaint if they continue to call.

The mobile keeps ringing…

Write to the creditor making them aware that you are unhappy with the number or frequency of the calls.

They still continue to ring…

Make a formal complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service detailing the times and frequency of the calls.

Importantly: if they are actually going to do anything, like court action, you will be told formally by a letter, not over the phone.

Matthew worked as an IVA drafter prior to working in social media. In a former life he wrote scripts for Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. He has 3 chickens, 2 dogs and a rabbit.

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  • Mary Siliya

    Thanks for letting us know what to do when the my creditors keep on calling me indeed they get into our nerves and you feel your bloodpresure going high as if to collapse but when i remember the matter is in the hands of CCCS my peace comes to control
    Thanks that I was intoduced to you

  • Joanna

    I am very grateful that I was advised how to tell a pestering creditor ( a bank) to take all my phone numbers off their system. They know that they had to respond and take off the numbers when I said “as I believe is my legal right” which is a phrase got from my CCCS adviser.
    Watch out: They are still very keen to get it on the system again though, as every time I call, they say “Can I just update our records with your telephone number?”
    Just repeat the statement “I do not want any of my phone numbers to be recorded on my record with you, as I believe is my legal right. I will respond to letters.”

  • clifford

    Can i block a number that not withheld.

  • Carol

    Thank you that information it is useful to know. I have only just begun my DMP but have already had a very stressfull phone call last night which resulted in a panic attack followed by a migraine! I did, however manage to stay calm on the phone thanks to my little booklet sent to me by CCCS and felt proud of myself for not letting them bully me. It feels great to be taking control at last.

    • Hi Carol, thanks for your comments and well done for staying calm. You’ve done the correct thing, even though it can feel very scary at the time.

      You’ve gained control of the situation again, which is very important.

  • Phillip

    I know it may seem an extreme thing to do but in the past when the person on the other end of the phone asked for me I would say I will get him put the phone down and just walk away and leave the phone of the hook, also I now do not answer calls with number withheld.

  • steven white

    What do you do if they keep ringing you at work. even after you have told them if I lose my job through you calling I will not be able to pay anything

    • Hi Steven,

      The best way to stop them is to call the creditor and demand that your work number is immediately removed from their records. You can cite the OFT Debt Collection Guidance (OFT664), which in section 2.2g states that ‘ignoring or disregarding debtors’ legitimate wishes in respect of when and where to contact them’ constitutes ‘unfair practice’.

      If this doesn’t work, you should send a letter by recorded delivery (keeping a copy) demanding that the number is removed and that this is confirmed in writing. You can also request a copy of the creditor’s complaints procedure in writing and make a written complaint if your request is not adhered to. You can escalate the issue to your local Trading Standards department (under the local authority in your phone book) or the Financial Ombudsman Service if the complaint is not dealt with.

  • Michelle

    I just can’t believe we didn’t do this earlier! All the anxiety, depression and pressure on our marriage, struggling to pay for fear that they would send people to our house or take drastic action against us! We are not bad people, just having a bad time. We use call barring for the many different phone lines our debts have and add each new one as they ring, we won’t ignore letters but will no longer put up with their pressure calls. Thank you CCCS, our DMP starts next month but already feeling much more positive and marriage/family life back on track!


    you don’t say what to say to debt collectors who insist you are the guilty party and owe thousands when actually you have no idea what they are talking about and have no outstanding debts. How do you convince them that someone else has used your address to obtain goods or services?

    • Hi there and thanks for your question.

      Have you written to them explaining your situation already?

      You could write to them asking a true copy of the original signed agreement together with an up to date statement of the account showing all transactions, including interest and charges. They may charge a fee for this information and there is more detail about requests for information here: http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information/how_manage/access_info.aspx.

      If you think the debt was fraudulently taken out you can report this to the police. Any proof that you have that the debt isn’t yours will help your case and if the debt is taken to court you could dispute it at that stage too.

      I hope this helps,

      • P SHANNON

        thanks Pevan,
        unfortunately I do not know who the person is, it is merely a name at an address which is similar (but not the same) as mine. After the 6th or 7th letter arrived I opened it and wrote to the PO Box address, explaining that there was no one living or had been living with that name at the address shown. All that happened was that they changed the address on the letters to be exactly mine and the letters continued. On Friday I had people knocking on the door on and off all morning and asking the neighbours about this person. I did not answer the door (and closed all the windows) but it is very worrying. How do I convince them that I really do not know Mr Aziz and he has never lived in my house?

      • Hi there,

        I’d recommend that you write to the creditor in the first instance with a formal complaint that they haven’t stopped contacting you when you don’t owe the debt.

        Make them aware that if they don’t deal with your request to investigate properly you will also complain to the Financial Ombudsman: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm. They also have a helpline and they might be able to offer you some more advice (you can find their contact details by using the above link).

        I hope this helps,

      • P SHANNON

        many thanks Pavan.
        I’ll give it a try.

  • Maz

    I have a creditor that I owe about £5,000 when I was self-employed, I made an arrangement to pay £150, which I paid for 11 months in 2010 but stopped making the payments because of illness, as half of my face was paralysed and had constant headaches I was unable to work. I did not hear from my creditor but suddenly in August 2012 I received a court summons for oral examination. I have now started working again with a limited company I started with my partner, as it is a new and growing company I do not make or have any incomes from the business and currently rely on tax credits. As I could not say to my creditor there is nothing for now, I asked the lady an employee of my creditor to please allow me to make a minimum of £30 a month until we can get back to £150 a month or even more. We managed to agree with this plan despite constant abuse and very rude attitude I was subjected to.
    I then received a letter of confirmation of our agreement to sign and return; the amount is now £7,000 and I’m being asked to sign on behalf of my “new limited company”. I believe I’ll need to seek legal advice before signing the agreement but nevertheless I’ll stick to the payment agreement until I get money and time to visit a solicitor for advice.

    Just a week after the first payment was made, I received a message on my voicemail to say that I have not made payment; I called the lady back to say the payment was made and she promised to take another look and get back to me. Just as I put the phone down, I saw email she sent to a group email address (she has my email address but choose to use a group email she found on our website that also goes to our external marketing company) which means other consultants received the email threatening me with bankruptcy; and shortly after that I received another message from the Virtual Office Services company that we use that the lady left a message with the receptionist that I owe £7000 and she was going to make me bankrupt. As embarrassing as these are I feel I have no choice to but to work with her; I called the bank and I was told that the money was paid to the creditor’s account that she gave me in the agreement.

    A week later, she called the Virtual Office again and made the same threat of bankruptcy to the receptionist and added that soon they won’t have a Job to go to, I called her to beg her to please stop humiliating me about and telling everybody about my personal issue but she said shush, shut up and insult like that was what I got from her; it later turned out that she gave me a wrong reference on number on the agreement and the payment I made was filed against another account.

    Can you please advise as I really do not know how to deal with this woman’s aggression, I feel harassed and do know what else she’ll do?

    • Hi
      I think it would be wise to seek legal advice before signing any documents. You don’t know what you could be signing up for!

      Have you ever spoken to Community Legal Advice? I’ve sent you the link to find out more:

      You can call them and arrange a callback for a free advice session on 0845 345 4345

      They’re open Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, Saturday 9.00 am to 12.30 pm

      You can also arrange a callback by texting ‘legalaid’ to 80010.

      It sounds like you’ve had a very bad experience with this individual who is collecting for the debt. The behaviour you’ve described would be classed as excessive and you may want to consider putting a written complaint in with the company she represents.

      From everything you’ve told us I think it’s best if you get in touch with us for advice on how to handle the debts you have. It’s hard to advise you over the internet with it being such a public forum. I would highly recommend you call Helpline on 0800 138 1111 to speak to someone as your situation is quite complicated and it would help to explain it to someone.

      Hope to hear from you soon.

      MoneyAware Team

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