Debt collectors, or bailiffs, have often been accused of illegal tactics in England and the emergence and exponential growth of pay-day-loan services is likely to bring more unethical lenders to our attention.
Here in Spain it seems the same thing is happening and the Andalusian Ombudsman, José Chamizo, has petitioned the high court of Andalusia to intervene in order to “curb abusive practices of debt collection companies.”
The court opened proceedings following receipt of a letter from Sr. Chamizo in which the ombudsman says that this sector has been “receiving more and more complaints from citizens denouncing the actions of certain collection companies whose practices appear to exceed the limits of what is acceptable and in some cases borders on what could be considered criminal behaviour.”
He explained that when a debt remains unpaid for extended periods it is often passed to a firm specifically dedicated to the activity of collecting debts and these companies have proliferated greatly during the crisis. Although their business is legal Sr. Chamizo said that “lately, perhaps because of increased competition between these companies or increasing difficulty in collecting arising from the severity of the crisis, there has been a noticeable hardening in the practices of these companies.”
In his letter Chamizo explained that people have reported receiving “incessant” calls, not only during the day but in many cases during the night. Such calls often include threats and insults regardless of who answers the call.
“There has also been several reported cases in which calls or visits have been made to third parties unrelated to the debt, including neighbours and relatives of the debtor”, Chamizo added. This is a violation of the rules of data protection.
Many of the complaints received never get dealt with and denouncing the companies if often ineffective in stopping the intimidation, which continues until the debt is repaid, prompting Chamizo to request the investigation into the sectors practices.