Read Time 5 Minutes, 20 Seconds

In general, debt collectors can pursue after a debtor to recover their money until it gets written off. But in the UK, some debt types that are older than 6 years have a chance to get written off under certain conditions

Ignoring their reach outs can escalate to a court issue. Therefore, we strongly suggest you get in touch with them and solve it before things go to that extent. 

Let us help you with this article to find out ways that you could use to find a reliable solution to your debt issue…

Warren Marshall
Last updated on 14 September 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. Can Debt Be Ignored?
2. What Is a Debt Collector?
3. Why Is a Debt Collector Hounding You?
4. Do You Need To Pay a Debt Collection Agency?
5. What Happens if You Don’t Settle Your Debt with Debt Collectors?
6. How Long Can A Debt Be Chased?
7. Negotiating With Debt Collectors
8. What if your debts are not old enough to get a Statute-Barred excuse
9. Getting Help With to Deal With Debt Collectors
10. Key Points
11. FAQ


We all do not wish to get into huge debts that cannot be afforded at all. It’s because the consequences that come with not settling huge debts are a real pain. Nevertheless, unexpected circumstances and difficult times can occasionally lead even the most financially prudent individuals to encounter burdensome debt situations.

It’s a matter of time before you may end up settling the debt if you don’t find a way to write off it. Surely, your original creditors will hire one or more debt collection agencies to chase after you to recover their debt on behalf of them.

You may be wondering:

  • For how long can this pursuit persist? 
  • What is the typical duration that a debt collection agency will continue their efforts to recover a debt? 

We address these inquiries in the following sections.

Can Debt Be Ignored?

No, you should not ignore debts. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a matter of time before you end up paying to them if your debt cannot be written off. It’s because, at some point in time, your original creditor will hire a debt collection agency to chase after you to recover their debt. 

These debt collectors will not chase after you till they at least get a penny from you. Therefore, it’s best to reach out to them and discuss with them to get an affordable payment plan that you can stick to while fulfilling daily expenses without trouble.

After all, do not pay them until you make sure that the debt is really yours. For that, you can request a written letter titled “Prove the Debt” to send you proof of the document showing you really owe them. Their reply should at least contain a copy of the initial credit agreement you had with your original creditor.

If they fail to reply to you with proof, then you are not bound by law to settle the debt. And conversely, you may have to settle the debt if they were able to prove you owe them.

What Is a Debt Collector?

Debt Collectors are agents who work on behalf of debt collection agencies to chase after and recover debts. These debt collectors mainly chase after two types of debt types.

1. They chase after debtors on behalf of Creditors. Here, they earn a commission or a fixed fee for each debt amount they collect.
2. They purchase bad debt from creditors for a fraction of the total debt amount and chase after the debtor to recover the total amount to make a profit out of it.

Since debt collectors have more experience in recovering due amounts, they have a better success rate in recovery compared to original creditors’ approach to recovering debts. 

Yes, laws and regulation frameworks are in place to control debt collectors’ unethical practices.  

But it’s a known fact that some debt collection firms or debt collectors themselves go beyond legal limitations if necessary in order to recover debt. They can even go to the extent of showing you forged fake court documents ordering you to settle the debt. Thus, it’s better to deal with caution.

Why Is a Debt Collector Hounding You?

There are other reasons for them to reach out to you besides the above two reasons, such as your original creditor hiring a particular debt collector firm to chase after you or selling your debt’s ownership to them.

Simply, they might have mistaken you for someone else

On these occasions, you can simply reach out to them and tell them about the mistake they have made.

These debt collectors might chase after you to Collect Payment: 

If you have been chased by Debt Collectors, it’s likely because they are focused on recovering the money you owe. However, the path to resolution isn’t as simple as merely submitting a payment. 

They might offer you the following alternatives:

  • Immediate Payment: Debt Collectors aim for you to clear the debt in one lump sum, and they may even request a credit card payment during their communication with you.
  • Monthly Instalments: If paying the full amount at once is not feasible, they may suggest a monthly payment arrangement.
To Obtain More Information: 

Another motive behind chasing you may involve gathering information. You might be curious about the need for such details. This is because Debt Collection Agencies want to assess your ability to repay the debt. 

And these inquiries aid them in determining their next course of action regarding your debt situation. 

They may seek information about:

  • Financial Circumstances: In case you assert an inability to pay the debt in full and decline monthly instalments, they will delve deeper into your financial situation.
  • Income and Expenses: They will inquire about your current income and living expenses to create a comprehensive picture of your financial capacity. This information helps them formulate the most effective strategy for debt recovery.
  • Future Debt Recovery: Importantly, the information gathered is not just for show; it will be utilised in future attempts to recover the debt. Are you interested in discovering effective ways to navigate this situation?
The Debt Collectors might intimidate you: 

Another purpose behind their calls is intimidation, which can be the most disturbing. If polite persuasion and inquiries do not yield results, they may resort to intimidation tactics, including:

  • Pressure Tactics: They might employ tactics such as threatening potential home visits or legal actions.
  • False Deadlines: Expect to encounter phrases like “final notice” or “urgent action required” designed to prompt swift action. 

But you need to be strong and face them because it is crucial not to succumb to these intimidation tactics.

What’s the underlying objective of all these reach outs from debt Collectors? 

It is to recover the debt you owe. These debt collectors employ various methods to achieve this, but the ultimate goal remains the same:

  • The Profit Angle: Debt collection is a business with quotas to meet, which motivates them to take various actions to recover the debt.
  • The Timeline: They often have internal deadlines for debt recovery, so the pressure is on them as well, and their agents may feel the pressure to meet monthly goals.

By now, you are probably eager to learn how to handle all these houndings and emerge from the situation unscathed. All the answers you seek can be found in the upcoming sections. Keep reading to change the narrative.

Do You Need To Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Yes, you have to settle the debt at some point in time if the debts are proven true. There are some unique instances where you might get a chance to write off some types of debts. But for that, you need to lay low, passing a certain time period undetectably as a condition to get eligibility to write-off your debt. 

Conversely, the debt collection agencies do not wait till those timely conditions get fulfilled. So, there is a lesser chance of getting your debt written off for real with that approach. It’s because debt collectors are good at tracing and determining ways to get in touch with their debtors. 

What Happens if You Don’t Settle Your Debt with Debt Collectors?

Suppose you fail to resolve your debt or establish arrangements with a debt collection agency. 

In that case, you’ll experience a progressively severe sequence of actions taken by debt collectors. Below are a list of general actions they might take if you ignore them:

1. Numerous letters demanding debt payment will be sent to you.
2. Debt collection agencies’ agents will attempt to contact you via telephone, typically during evenings or weekends.
3. In extreme cases where they cannot find a way to contact you, they will visit your home as an effort to collect the owed amount. This can even happen on weekends or evenings.
4. The collection agency could potentially place a default on your record. And this will negatively affect your credit score.
5. They will go to court and take a County Court Judgment (CCJ) against you if the debts are true and you keep ignoring their communication.
6. Receiving a CCJ will make you legally responsible for the debt. And it will last in your credit history for 6 years if you do not settle the debt before passing 30 days of receiving the CCJ.
7. They will again go to court to take a warrant or writ of conduct to get permission to use bailiffs to visit your home and seize your valuable belongings.
8. The seized items will be stored in a warehouse for some time and eventually will be sold in an auction to recover the total debt and all bailiffs’ charges.
9. A statutory demand may be issued as a precursor to potentially declare you bankrupt. And it will help to facilitate wage garnishments for repayments.

How Long Can A Debt Be Chased?

A debt collector has the right to pursue you to recover unsettled debt until it becomes eligible for write-off. Most debts are typically eligible to be written off after a period of 6 years. 

In addition to that, you need to fulfil 3 main conditions simultaneously to get acceptance to write off your debt. They are as follows.

1. Your debt needs to be 6 years old from the day you make a payment towards it for the last time.
2. You should not have any contact with the original creditor or the debt collectors within that 6-year period mentioned in the first condition.
3. You should not have received any court order regarding the debt case within that 6-year period mentioned in the first point.

Then, your debt gets sorted under the Statute-Barred category and becomes unenforceable in the court if your debts fulfil these 3 conditions at the same time.

But keep in mind debts like HMRC and Student loan debts do not get categorised under the Statute-Barred category. And it lasts for years enforceable in court. 

Negotiating With Debt Collectors

So you’ve come to the point where you’re thinking of negotiating. That’s smart. Debt collectors often prefer a hassle-free process. After all, legal action costs them time and money. 

Hence, it may be better to initiate discussions for a more manageable repayment plan with the debt collectors agency. And keep in mind it should be centred on your financial capacity rather than your outstanding balance. 

What if your debts are not old enough to get a Statute-Barred excuse

There are some instances in which you may not be able to find a reliable solution by discussing it with the debt collectors or the original creditor. 

Additionally, there are instances where your debts cannot be sorted under the Statute-Barred category.

There’s some positive news for individuals facing the above issues. 

In the UK, there are various legal avenues that could potentially help you in writing off a portion of your overwhelming debt burden. Among these legal avenues, choosing a Debt solution provided by the UK is the most popular thing among its citizens. 

However, being cautious is crucial, as some of these solutions may offer relief, while others could worsen your financial situation. Therefore, we highly advise consulting with a qualified debt advisor before exploring any debt resolution strategies.

Getting Help With to Deal With Debt Collectors

There are some instances in which you may find difficulties in dealing with these debt collectors. On those occasions, you are allowed by law to get debt help from a professional debt advisor. 

For that, there are a number of paid and charity debt organisations whose sole purpose is to help individuals like you in finding a reliable solution to your debt issue. As a starter, we suggest you go with charity debt institutes because they provide their service free of charge.

Below is a list of charity debt organisations that you could use to get help in solving your particular debt issue for free.

1. Citizens Advice Bureau
2. Stepchange
3. National Debtline
4. Payplan
5. Shelter
6. Christians Against Poverty

Key Points

  • The 6-year countdown restarts with every interaction you have with the collection agency. And it makes evasion challenging.
  • Debt collectors can pursue debts until they are written off, typically after 6 years in the UK.
  • To establish a repayment plan tailored to your financial circumstances, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance from a debt counsellor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • In the UK, some individuals may be eligible to legally write off a portion of their debt.
  • Negotiating a more manageable repayment plan with a collection agency is feasible. But it should be decided based on your affordability rather than your total debt.


How Long Can a Debt Collector Legally Chase Me for a Debt?

In the UK, a debt collector can legally chase you for unpaid debt for up to 6 years. 

When Do Debt Collectors Give Up?

Debt collectors generally don’t give up until the debt is either paid or written off. However, in the UK, they have a 6-year window to collect. 

When Do Debt Collectors Give Up?

Debt collectors generally don’t give up until the debt is either paid or written off. However, in the UK, they have a 6-year window to collect. 

Does the 6-Year limit Reset?

Yes, the 6-year limit resets with any communication or acknowledgement of the debt, including partial payments. So, if you think ignoring them works, think again!

What Are the Legal Consequences of Not Paying a Debt?

Ignoring a debt could result in legal action, including a County Court Judgment (CCJ). 

Can a Debt Collector Chase Me for a Debt That’s More Than 6 Years Old?

Under specific circumstances, yes. This is often referred to as a “zombie debt.” Debts like student loans and HMRC debt lasts decades in an active state to pursue and recover.

Can I Negotiate the Repayment Terms With Debt Collectors?

Absolutely Yes, you can negotiate the repayment schedule based on what you can afford. 

Can I Write Off Some of My Debt?

Yes, some people in the UK become eligible to legally write off parts of their debt. 

Where Can I Get Professional Help for Managing My Debt?

Organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau or a debt counsellor can help. 

What Happens if I Move Out of the UK?

Debt may follow you across borders. But it depends on various laws and regulations. 

Can Ignoring a Debt Affect My Credit Score?

An unpaid debt is typically reported to credit bureaus and can negatively impact your credit score. 

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