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Citizens Advice: Debt collectors harass, intimidate and 'misrepresent'

05 March 2007
A bailiff will be legally able to enter the home of a customer who has not paid their credit card bill under the terms of new legislation now going through Parliament, consumer protection charity Citizens Advice has warned.

Describing the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill as "a recipe for abuse on an unprecedented scale", the charity's chief executive David Harker cautioned that vulnerable people could be subject to the predations of private bailiffs, who use "intimidation, harassment and excessive fee-charging" as "commonplace" practices.

While current legislation only permits bailiffs dealing with certain categories of debt such as magistrates' court fines to enter debtors' homes, the new law will mean consumers with more common debt problems such as unpaid credit card bills could be targeted.

Almost two thirds of bailiffs were guilty of harassment or intimidation in the 500 cases seen by Citizens' Advice since October 2006, the charity claims.

As many as 40 per cent 'misrepresented' their powers of entry, falsely claiming they were legally authorised to enter the house in question, the survey found.

Mr Harker is calling for provision in the bill for independent regulation of debt collectors.

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