It is pretty unnerving when you get a call from a debt collector, but try not to worry. Though debt collectors can make you feel powerless, you actually have a lot of solutions to deal with your debt. For starters, you can track a debt collector’s phone number, to find out what company they’re calling from.
At first, you may not recognise the debt collection company calling. This is because, if you owe money to another creditor and fail to pay them for long enough, they may sell your debt to a debt collection company like Past Due Credit Solutions, who will then chase you for it.
In this article, we’re going to cover how you can track a debt collector’s phone number to work out what company they’re calling from, as well as the rights you have when debt collectors call you.
Let’s dive right in, and look at how to track a debt collector’s phone number.
How can you track a debt collector’s phone number?
You can track a debt collector’s phone number by inputting their number into a reverse phone look-up tool, to see if anyone has reported them as a debt collector, and mentioned the company they collect debts for.
Reverse phone-look-up tools like Scam Numbers and IVA Advice’s Debt Collector and Bailiff Phone Numbers directory, may also allow you to find out the debt collection company’s location via area code if they are calling from a landline, as well as check if anyone has reported the number as a scam.
How did a debt collector get my information?
If you owe debts that you haven’t paid, it isn’t very hard for a debt collector to get your contact information. Usually, it will be on the original credit agreement or form you will have signed when taking out credit.
Even if the debt collection company contacting you isn’t your original creditor (person you owe money to), they will still get the information from your creditor when they buy your debt, or collect it on behalf of your creditor. Debt buying is a practice where debt collectors purchase ‘bad debts’ (debts which have no hope of being paid, despite reminders) from companies at a fraction of their price, and then chase you for the full amount, hoping to make a profit.
As well as, there are many other ways that a debt collector can get hold of your contact details:
- Your credit report. Debt collection agencies are one of the companies that are allowed to look at your credit report. Not only can they extract your contact details, but they can get financial information about you which they may then use to try and prove that you can pay your debt.
- Search engines and social media. Almost everyone has a social media account these days, and contact information is easily accessible. Even if you keep your Facebook account private, you might use a site like LinkedIn where you need to list an email address or contact number for clients. It is also easy to find some contact information if you’re registered on Company House, for example.
- Your employer. Your debt collector is allowed to contact your employer, but only to ask for your contact details. So, they may get your contact details via your employer, although they can’t reveal that they are a debt collector or that you owe a debt.
- Friends and family. Unfortunately, contacting your friends and family to ask for details such as your address and phone number is not off limits for debt collectors. However, they are not allowed to reveal that they are a debt collector, or even imply in the slightest that you owe a debt.
Can I get information on a debt collector who is calling me?
You can get information on a debt collector who is calling you. However, it’s important to stay within the realm of what is legal.
In the UK, it is illegal to track someone’s mobile if they are an adult without giving their consent.
However, it is legal to use reverse phone look up tools. These are useful tools that can help you check if the debt collection company calling you is legitimate (there are way too many debt collector scammers about, preying on the vulnerable), and to find out more information about the company, so that you can work out who you might owe a debt to, and start to make a plan to deal with the situation.
To use a reverse phone look up tool, go to a website like Who Called Me? or Whitepages and enter the debt collector’s phone number. It will usually come up with any recorded information about them, for example, names and post-codes.
Once you’ve found out who the company calling is, you can also enter the company’s address (a quick Google should lead you to it), you can find things such as fraud reports, licenses and criminal records. Unfortunately, despite laws forbidding this, some debt collectors do behave abusively, so it’s good to have a record of any prior convictions of misdemeanours.
What should I do when a debt collector calls me?
Here are 4 steps to take when a debt collector calls you:
Tell them to call back if it’s not a good time
Remember that debt collectors want to make a profit, so they are masters of making you feel like you have to talk to them right now. After all, if you’re caught out, you might just panic and pay up. However, take a breath. You need time to get together a plan, including working out whether you owe the debt in the first place, so feel free to say: “Now is not a good time. Please call back on Tuesday at 3pm”, for example. If they call again, ignore them until the time you agreed. Debt collectors are actually not allowed to call you repeatedly, as this counts as harassment according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If this happens, you can report a debt collection company to the FCA and the Financial Ombudsman.
Work out whether you actually owe the debt
Debt collectors sometimes come calling at debtors’ old addresses, and it could be that they’re chasing the debt of the person who lived there before you. It’s not unheard of for debt collectors to just call lots of people with the same or a similar name, in the hopes that one of them will pay up (obviously, this is against regulations).
Even if you owe the debt, you may not have to pay it. In the UK, if you took out credit under the Consumer Credit Act and the Debt Collection Company can’t find the original credit agreement, they have no right to take you to court over it. Also, if your debt is older than six years, it is no longer enforceable, which means you may not have to pay it – this is called a statute barred debt.
Never admit that you owe the debt
Never admit liability for the debt over the phone, even if you think you might owe it. Instead, ask the debt collector for the original credit agreement, and don’t do or say anything else until you receive it. If the debt has been bought and sold many times, chances are that the debt collector may not be able to produce the agreement. Even if they can, you will have given yourself some time to plan how to repay your debt in a way that works for you.
Get help from a debt charity
You can get free, expert debt advice from debt charities like StepChange, National Debtline and Christians Against Poverty. You can speak to debt experts who can help you decide the best solution to deal with your debts for good, and even communicate with your creditors on your behalf. Debt charities can help organise debt management plans for you, which can freeze extra interest and charges on your debts so you can just concentrate on paying them back at a sum that is manageable for you.
Now that we’ve gone through how to track a debt collector’s phone number, as well as how to deal with debt collectors when they call you, we hope you’ve found it a useful read. Remember that debt collectors never have as much power as they make out, and that there are many things you can do to slash your debts at a manageable rate.