This is due to the fact that the creditor has the opportunity to choose two paths of proceedings: judicial and extrajudicial. If the customer is in arrears with payments to a bank, telecom or other company, it usually transfers the debt recovery to the debt collection department that operates within its structure – or to an external company. The task of the debt collector is to recover the entire debt amount together with interest for late payment or to establish a repayment plan in installments.
What rights does the debt collector have?
To be a debt collector, you do not need to acquire any special rights or belong to a professional self-government. Debt collection is handled both by large companies (usually serving large clients, from whom they receive hundreds of orders every month), as well as small offices, which usually support smaller creditors.
The work standards of debt collectors are different. Many debtors complain that they are literally bombarded with telephones and letters reminding them to pay back. This is understandable in so far as the purpose of the debt collector is to mobilize the debtor to meet his obligation to the creditor, so the debt collector must act actively. On the other hand, the debt collector’s actions may be about breaking the law (attempts to enter the debtor’s home, threatening that if the case goes to court, the debtor will be taken away from children, calling several dozen times a day) and such practices should be strongly opposed.
The debt collector may contact in writing and by telephone, but he should remain moderate. He may try to visit the debtor at home, but he cannot demand that he be admitted, because the owner (or tenant) of the apartment decides who can cross the threshold. Public officials are an exception, but the debt collector is not one of them. Sometimes debt collectors try to claim the bailiff’s rights, e.g. they simulate writing down the debtor’s assets, they look at items in the apartment (if they are allowed in) and make it clear that they will soon be auctioned off. This is unlawful behavior, because enforcement can only be carried out by a bailiff. We repeat – the task of the debt collector is only to set the rules for paying the debt. He must not apply pressure to it. As a result, many debtors develop the belief that a debt collector can be ignored and it is better not to enter into a discussion with him. They do not answer the phone, do not respond to letters, considering that if they disappear, the debt problem will solve itself. This is a big mistake, because not only that unpaid debt is still increasing (interest), debtors also lose the only chance to negotiate repayment and de facto make it on their terms. With the debt collector you can get along, set a repayment schedule, and diligently paying debtors can also count on additional benefits, e.g. stopping the calculation of default interest if subsequent installments are repaid on time.
When does the bailiff enter?
However, if the debtor adopts the tactics of hiding, and the creditor decides to take more decisive steps, i.e. to take the case to court, debt enforcement goes to the bailiff. After receiving an application to initiate enforcement, the bailiff can take part of the debtor’s remuneration (this is the most commonly used tool), seize funds in bank accounts and deposits, leaving only a relatively small amount specified in the regulations, and finally – he can execute the debtor’s assets and in an extreme situation also from his property.
What permissions does the bailiff have?
Negotiations with the bailiff are doomed to failure. He acts at the request of the creditor and is bound by his claims, which means, more or less, that it is up to the creditor to decide whether to waive enforcement, e.g. from remuneration. In practice, this means that if the debtor comes to the bailiff’s office and asks for the release of remuneration (while promising that he will pay soon, as long as enforcement is detained), the bailiff will spread his hands and direct the debtor to the creditor, because since he determined the way in which enforcement is to be carried out, it is also his responsibility to change his mind. It is doubtful that the creditor would go to the debtor, who for a long time evaded payment. The debt collection procedure usually lasts at least several months (sometimes and two years), so there was a lot of time for the debtor to honestly give back what he borrowed or what he is in arrears with.
Unless the debt collector has the right to enter the debtor’s apartment by force, the bailiff has the full right to do so. He can also take things from the apartment – he takes them physically or enters them in a special register, which means that the debtor may still use them for some time, but he cannot sell them or otherwise get rid of them, because they will soon be auctioned. Threatening the bailiff with a door is not an option – next time the bailiff will be back with police assistance. It should also be remembered that the bailiff is a public official and there is a criminal liability for attack (also verbal).
As you can see, there are many differences between a creditor and a bailiff. The debt collector is in the first stage of debt recovery. The case will not be on the bailiff’s desk if the debtor settles the obligation beforehand or the creditor does not go to court – large companies rarely give up court proceedings, so the debtor should take this into account. He should also be aware that cooperation with a debt collector will bring him benefits and protect him from stress related to enforcement proceedings.