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Debt collection

Introduction

Your creditor is entitled to ask you to pay your debts but is not entitled to harass or intimidate you. There are specific rules for debt collection in relation to agreements covered by the consumer credit legislation - namely the Consumer Credit Act 1995 and the European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010 (SI 281/2010).

Private debt collectors

Instead of directly pursuing you, the debtor, for debts, creditors sometimes sell the debt to a private collection agency. There are a number of private debt collection agencies operating in Ireland. They are not regulated.

Contact between lenders and consumers

Under the Central Bank's Consumer Protection Code (pdf), your lender cannot phone you or visit you in connection with your loan without your consent between 9 pm and 9 am on weekdays or at any time on a Sunday or public holiday.

A lender is not permitted to call you or to visit you at your place of work unless you are also living there, or unless all reasonable efforts to contact you elsewhere have failed. Only the person involved in the loan can be contacted in connection with it. This means that your lender cannot contact your employer or a member of your family in relation to your loan.

Legal proceedings

If you do not engage with your lender, your lender will most likely initiate legal proceedings to recover the debt.

Harassment and intimidation

All debt collectors, including private individuals and debt collection agencies, are covered by Section 11 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997. This provides that a person is guilty of an offence if he/she makes any demand for payment of a debt and if:

  • The demands are so frequent as to be calculated to subject you or a member of your family to alarm, distress or humiliation, or
  • The person falsely represents that criminal proceedings lie for non-payment of the debt, or
  • The person falsely represents that he or she is authorised in some official capacity to enforce payment, or
  • The person utters a document falsely represented to have an official character

If you are subjected to such behaviour by your creditor or by a debt collection agency, you should report the matter to the GardaĆ­.

Page updated: 3 May 2011

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.