What should I do if a bailiff or debt collector calls at my door?

If you're in serious debt problems and you haven't been repaying your lenders as agreed, you might end up with a bailiff or debt collector turning up at your door.

Bailiffs and debt collectors are both employed to recover money that you owe - however, there are some important points to consider about them:

  • Bailiffs and debt collectors are not the same thing
  • Bailiffs and debt collectors have strict rules they must follow.

We could help you find a suitable solution to your debt problems before they get worse.

Here we'll look at the differences between bailiffs and debt collectors, and what you should do if you find yourself facing a visit from them.

What is a debt collector?

If you've seriously fallen behind with your debts and missed several repayments, your lenders may decide to send a debt collector to reclaim the money you owe.

Debt collectors aren't court officials - they're professionals who specialise in dealing with borrowers who haven't kept up with their agreed payments. They could work for the company you owe money to, or your lenders may have hired them from an external agency.

Either way, debt collectors don't have any 'special powers', and there are certain things they can't do - that bailiffs can.

What if a debt collector knocks at my door?

Firstly, a debt collector can't enter your home without your permission. And if you want them to leave, they have to follow your wishes. Debt collectors must also give you adequate advance warning before visiting you.

Furthermore, debt collectors must be clear about exactly who they are and what debt they're collecting, and they can't threaten or harass you in order to reclaim any money: e.g. visiting you too often or contacting your friends and family.

What is a bailiff

Bailiffs do have 'special powers' that debt collectors don't have - but they're still required to follow official debt collection guidelines.

Bailiffs can be court officials who help lenders to reclaim unpaid debts. In most cases, bailiffs would only be called if you're seriously behind on your debt repayments and the case has been to court, as a result of you and your lenders not being able to reach a repayment agreement.

You could find out how an IVA could help you get on top of your debt problems - and avoid problems with bailiffs - by clicking here.

What if a bailiff knocks at my door?

Bailiffs have the legal power to take non-essential property, in order to sell these items to raise the money to repay your lenders.

If bailiffs turn up at your door, and it's their first visit, they can only enter your home if you allow them to - or if there's an open door or window they can get through.

In some cases, bailiffs will be able to force entry into your home. Once they've been in, they'll be allowed to force entry into your property if they return in the future - but for that debt only.


You could avoid facing bailiffs or debt collectors altogether if you take action with your debt problems early enough. A debt solution such as an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement), for example, could help you even if you're struggling with a serious amount of debt.

You could request a free call-back from one of our advisers here. They can explain more about IVAs and make sure you understand the 'cons' as well as the 'pros'.

By Daniel Culpan.

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Subject to eligibility and acceptance. Fees Payable. Debt write off applies to unsecured debts only and on completion of an IVA, alternative solutions may be offered. If your IVA fails, it could lead to Bankruptcy. Your ability to obtain credit will be affected for at least 6 years. Homeowners may be required to release the equity in their property.