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What To Do If Your Debt Has Been Passed To a Debt Collection Agency

If your have debt that has been in arrears for a significant period of time, or if you have been sent letters of default on your debt, chances are you have been hearing from debt collectors on a daily basis. While this can be intimidating, it is normal when you are in debt. When you are dealing with debt collectors, it is important to understand that they are not bailiffs and they don’t have the power that they want you to think that they have.

What Is a Debt Collection Agency?

When the original creditor cannot get the bills that are in arrears paid, they hire a debt collection agency. These people specialise in collecting debts when the creditor has been unsuccessful. There are many debt collection agencies in the UK. Some of these agencies specialize in specific types of debt. There are also several large companies who specialize in all types of debt and they operate across several countries.

Debt Collectors Work in One of Two Ways

  • In some cases, the original creditor will sell or assign the debt to a collection agency because the amount of debt owed isn’t enough for them to fight for. After the account has gone into default, the contract that you signed with the original creditor is able to go to a credit agency. The creditor will sell the debt for less money than what you owe so that they can go after you for a lump sum of money. At this point, the collection agency is the legal owner of your debt and they make a profit by collecting the full amount owed from you.
  • In other cases, the original creditor will continue to own your debt, but they will use a collection agency to contact you to get you to repay the debt. When you do, the collection agency will be given a percentage of what you paid.

If you aren’t sure which type of collection agency you are working with, you can usually tell by looking at the letters you are receiving from the collection agency. If the letters are telling you to pay the original creditor, they still hold the debt and the collection agency is just helping the debt get paid. If the letter tells you to pay the collection agency, it means that they bought out your debt.

Debt collection agencies don’t have any legal power over you. They cannot do anything more than the original creditor could do to get you to repay. They can use several means to contact you, such as sending letters or making phone calls to contact you. They can also send you text messages or emails. When you receive this correspondence, it can be worrying. The collection agency could threaten court action. They can even threaten to send someone to your home. They are not allowed to lie to you or to make you think that they have more legal power than they actually have. Also, they cannot make an excessive amount of phone calls.

A collection agency could take you to court to force you to pay. If you are working with a company like our organisation who helps you repay your debts, they likely won’t take you to court. As long as you are willing to pay something, legal action is unlikely.

What Should I Do If a Debt Collector Contacts Me?

If you receive letters or calls from a debt collector, don’t ignore them. They are likely to take further action if you don’t reply. They will often ask you to pay the debt in full or in large instalments. You should only agree to pay an amount that you can realistically afford.

If you have been contacted by a collection agency, you should get in touch with us for free and impartial debt help. You should do this quickly before you situation gets out of control. We can help you create a realistic a budget and help you determine how much you can afford to repay. If you are not happy with the number of phone calls that you are receiving from a debt collection company, you should make a complaint.

Will the Debt Collector Come To My House?

The debt collection agency could send someone to your home. These people are called field agents or doorstep collectors. It is not very common for a debt collector to visit you at home. They are more likely to contact you through letters and phone calls.

If a debt collector does come to your home there are a few things that you should know:

  • They are not a bailiff, a sheriff, or an enforcement agent. If they pretend to be any of these things, they are committing a criminal offence.
  • You don’t have to open the door for them.
  • They are required to show you proof of ID.
  • If you ask them to leave, they have to go immediately.
  • They are not allowed to take anything from your home.

If a collection agent comes to you home, you don’t have to give them a cash payment. You are better off waiting and calling the company. This will give you a chance to sit down and look at your budget to determine how much money you actually can afford.

Will a Debt Collection Agency Add More Interest Fees and Charges to the Debt Owed?

If the debt gets sold to a collection agency, the interest charges will normally stop. After the account went into default, the original creditor will likely already stopped the interest charges. In some cases, the collection agency will add finance charges, however, they can only add the amounts that you agreed to in your original contract. If the debt is still owned by the collector, they can continue to add interest fees to your account when the debt collection agency is contacting you.

Common Questions about Debt Collection Agencies

Q: I have more than one debt collection agency calling me for the same debt. Which one do I pay?

A: You should be contacted by just one collection agency. If you are being contacted by more than one, you should contact the original creditor to find out what is going on. They will tell you which company you should pay and they will stop the other agency from trying to collecting your debt.

There are some collection agencies that use more than one name. It is the same company, they are just using two different names. To determine if this is the case, you should check the addresses on the letters that you are receiving. If they are the same or very close, it is the same company. Since this can be confusing, you can ask the collection agency to send correspondence from just one name.

Q: The collection agency is contacting me for a debt that isn’t mine.

A: This is very rare, but it can happen. The collection agency could be trying to find someone with a name similar to yours. To rectify the situation, read our advice on what you should do if you are being chased for a debt that is not in your name.

Q: How do I know if the debt collection agency is real?

A: Most of the UK debt collection agencies are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They should also hold a valid consumer credit license. To be sure that they are licensed and real, you can contact the FCA.

Also, most collection agencies are members of certain organisations, such as the Credit Services Association and you will see the logo on the correspondence you receive.

Finally, you can contact us. We work with all major debt collection agencies in the UK and we can tell you if the company is legitimate.

Q: Can you help with debt collection agencies?

A: When you get calls or letters regarding your debt, it is a sign that it is getting out of control. This means that you should seek impartial and free debt help now.

We offer online debt advice 24 hours a day. It is confidential and free. It will take less than 30 minutes for a credit consultant to help you create a budget to help you start paying off your debt.

You can contact our Helpline for expert advice. The call is free from all landline and mobile phones. You can contact us Monday through Friday 8 am to 8 pm, and from 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday.

Help! 2 Debt Collectors Are Calling About the Same Debt

Suggested Managing Debt Articles

Receiving a notice from a debt collector is generally unpleasant. Getting two such notices is even less enjoyable. Getting two collections letters from different companies regarding the same debt? Not only is that frustrating, it can be extremely confusing.

If multiple companies contact you about a single debt, there are a few things you should do. First, if you’ve interacted with the collector on the phone, you’ll want to ask for written notification of the collection action. Once you’ve received that, ask for a verification of the debt (proof that you owe it).

Debts often change hands. Sometimes, a creditor will place a debt with a collector, and if that agency doesn’t collect the debt within a certain amount of time, it goes back to the creditor, either to be placed with another agency or sold off entirely. You’ll want to make sure you know whom to pay.

One consumer had the experience of interacting with a collection agency, only to be told the agency no longer had the debt. Later, he heard from another agency trying to collect the debt. Confused, he posted to Reddit about his situation:

“About two-three months ago, I had received a letter for a collection for about $2,000. I sent them back a letter in certified mail to confirm the debt, and received a letter from them saying ‘we have returned the debt to the original creditor’ and nothing else. I didn’t follow up from then, and now have a different CA letter for the same debt. What should be my next step?”

Free Credit Consultation - Call 844-346-3296

In this instance, it seems the first agency is no longer collecting the debt, and the original creditor either sold the debt or contracted another agency to collect it. He should certainly write the new agency to request written validation of the debt, but he should also hold onto the correspondence from the previous agency. Whenever you’re dealing with a debt collector, you want to document your interactions, because the process can get messy.

Multiple collection agencies often contact a consumer about one debt, said Gerri Detweiler,’s director of consumer education. When more than one agency is actively collecting the same debt, it’s crucial for consumers to keep track of these communications, even if that’s just maintaining a file of handwritten notes on the interactions.

“It’s tricky because sometimes these debts get sold and resold,” Detweiler said. “If you’re being contacted by two agencies, you can tell them that, ‘I need to verify who has this debt,’ and it doesn’t hurt to do that in writing.”

Sometimes, it’s not that easy to straighten things out. You may see multiple collections accounts on your credit report regarding a single debt, which can hurt your credit score, and if you can’t figure out who rightfully owns the debt, you may need to seek professional help. Detweiler said to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a consumer finance attorney in the event that collection activity on a single debt has multiplied beyond control. Whenever you’re dealing with debt collectors, keep an eye on your credit to make sure your accounts have been properly reported to the credit bureaus and are updated accordingly as you pay them by checking your credit reports (which you can get for free once a year). You can see your credit scores for free every month on

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Christine DiGangi is the former Deputy Managing Editor - Engagement for and covered a variety of personal finance topics. Her writing has been featured on USA Today, MSN, Yahoo! Finance and The New York Times International Weekly, among other outlets.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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I had five agencies calling me about a old gym membership in South Carolina saying I owed over $6,000 for five years of membership that I stopped using and moved away , the gym should have known I moved lol. A few month’s later, two agencies started calling me and harassing me about a old cable bill for $170! These company’s are so damn petty.

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Two collection agencies, one debt

I'm running into this situation; Account Control Technology (ACT) called to collect a debt which I'm already on a payment plan for with Coast Professionals. Now I'm really stressed out, who is getting the money and is it even going towards me debt. I will let you know how it turns out. If anyone can add some advince on this situation I would welcome it!

theWittness78's response was:

4001 People Helped

Start with a Validation Letter

Google it for a template.

Whats happened is that the account has been sold to another collection agency but the old one still appears on your report. Send Validation letters to both, Legally only one has the right to collect. The one that isn't will automaticly be removed if they no longer can collect. And Chances are that the second may not have all the legal paperwork and they would have to remove the account as well. You may just luck out and not have to pay either.

If one of them does end up with legal right to collect, then deal with only that one. Thats when you can do an Offer and Compromise, Pay to remove or work out a payment plan.

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Medical Collections - Same Debt, 2 CA's reporting

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Medical Collections - Same Debt, 2 CA's reporting

Hello! First time posting! Trying to get my credit together but I'm having an issue.

On my Experian report, it's reporting


And on my Equifax, reporting:


Both of these are the same account number for an emergency room visit from back in 9/2012. Bill was originally for $200 (my copay for the visit). Obviously never paid, sent to collections. I believe I've disputed both thru the credit bureau(s) as 'not mine' but both came back as valid. Confused on what to do at this point. Same debt with 2 companies? What's my course of action here? I've been relatively successful with disputes in my years but these are sticking. Help! I live in FL by the way. hospital visit was in FL as well.

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Re: Medical Collections - Same Debt, 2 CA's reporting

I have realized that these companies are one in the same. Anyone have any tips on how to beat them?

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Re: Medical Collections - Same Debt, 2 CA's reporting

The FCRA does not prevent multiple collections from simultaneously being reported and showing in a credit report, so it is not a vioaltion.

Howver, the CRAs have a reporting policy, set forth in their standard credit reporting manual, that is intended to limit credit reports to only one collection.

They instruct debt collectors to report deletion of their collection if their collection authority is teminated, either by termiantion of their assigned collection authority by the owner, or by their sale of the debt to another.

Assertions of "debt not mine" are usually not resolvable by way of dispute, as the furnisher is requried to investigate, and if they have reasonable basis to conclude that the named consumer is responsible, they can legitimately verify. They are not required to "prove" the debt. And, of course, the consumer cannot "prove" a negative.

To handle that issue, the FCRA was amended to provide an identity theft process (see section 605B), which permits a consumer to obtain block of any information froom their credit report without proofs by either side if they assert the account or transactions were not authorized by them.

To deal with unsupported assertions, the block of information must be more than just a simple statement. It must be presented to the CRA in the form of a sworn statement before law enforcement, which carries criminal penalties for knowingly false statements.

Check out the identity theft process outlined in detail in FCRA 605B if you wish to assert account not mine.

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