Debt collectors and bailiffs

What's the difference between a debt collector and bailiff ?

A debt collector can only ask you to pay off your debt and this would not be considered as a "priority" debt; they have no legal authority and cannot enter your home ot take your possessions. A debt collector does not have a power to visit your home without prior arrangement or agreement from you. If they behave in a threatening manner you must contact the police. If they give the impression that they are an appointed bailiff then you must contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06

A bailiff becomes involved if you are unable to come to an arrangement with your creditors after they have gone to court. If a bailiff does come to your home, you do not have to let them in. They cannot force their way in on their first visit, but they can enter through an open window or an unlocked door. Forced entry includes pushing past you once you have opened the door or leaving their foot in the door to prevent you from closing it. Actions like these would make the process illegal.

If you owe money to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HRMC) bailiffs are allowed to break into your home, provding they have a warrent from the court.

Bailiffs who are recovering unpaid court fines do have the power to force entry to your home.

Be aware! Once a bailiff has been granted entry into your home, then they are allowed to enter your home without permission, using force if necessary to recover the same debt.

Bailiffs connot take essentials, for example clothing, bedding, cookers, fridges, most furniture and belongings that are essential for your work (e.g. computer). They can take items such as your television, DVD player. They can also take items from outside your home, for example, your car, patio furniture, or items in unlocked sheds and garages.

You may try to negotiate with a bailiff to pay some or all of the debt there and then, so they leave without taking any of your belongings. If they accept payment from you, make sure you get a receipt from them. Only make an agreement if you know you can stick to it.

It is likely that the bailiff's fee and expenses will be added on top of the dbt you owe. you can ask for details of these at any time, and fees can be disputed.

You can try to stop a bailiff from visiting your home by completing form N245 which you can get from your local County Court by making an offer to repay the debt, for example, by paying in instalments and you must make sure you can afford to make the payments. If it is accepted, this will suspend the warrent ordering the bailiffs to come to your home as long as you keep up to date with your agreed payments.

If you are behind with your rent or mortgage payments, your landlord or mortgage lender may get a County Court possession to evict you. In this situation, a bailiff is allowed to break into your home.

Dealing with bailiffs is complicated; always seek free, independent help and advice if you have to deal with them