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  • by Karma Loveday

Watchdogs warn on debt collection conduct

Ofwat was one of four regulators to call in a letter issued via the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) for regulated companies to avoid consumer harm when collecting debt.

The watchdogs, which also included Ofgem, Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority, identified four outcomes that firms are expected to deliver based on existing rules, guidance and best practice: 

  • Ensure an appropriate frequency of collections communications and reduce the frequency where it is not delivering positive customer engagement or is causing harm to consumers.

  • Use a tone that is supportive in collections communications, avoiding language that is intimidating or threatening.

  • Make information about free debt advice and how to access it clear and prominent in collections communications and use ‘warm’ referrals (where a firm refers the customer to another organisation directly so that the customer doesn’t have to make a second call) where appropriate.

  • Make it as easy as possible for advisers from free debt advice organisations to contact creditors and ensure customer service agents are empowered to resolve the issues advisers contact them about.

The regulators warned: “Firms should be prepared for regulators to use their respective powers to ensure these expectations are met and embedded in firms’ processes in their sectors. Where we find firms are falling short and delivering poor outcomes leading to consumer harm, we may take robust action.”

The UKRN also published its second three-year strategy, this time covering the 2024-27 years. There are six core objectives: promoting collaboration; supporting the Net Zero transition; addressing vulnerability; supporting sustainable economic growth and resilience; championing effective regulation and telling our story; and making regulation an attractive career choice.


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