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Solicitors' letters and the debt collection process

If you miss payments to your debts you may start to get letters from solicitors.

This is more likely to happen after you've received a default notice.

Contact from a solicitor is usually a sign that arrears on your debt are serious, but it does not mean you're definitely going to court.

Why am I getting letters from a solicitor?

There are several reasons why you might hear from a solicitor about your debts:

  • Some companies of solicitors also act as debt collection agencies. Your original creditor may have sold the debt to them, and if the letters ask you to pay the solicitor directly, this is probably what has happened. Or your creditor may be paying the solicitor to collect their debts. This is usually the case if the letter tells you to pay the original creditor.
  • The solicitor may be part of your creditor's collection department using a different name. Check the small print on the letters to see if it mentions the original creditor, or compare the addresses to see if they're similar. This used to be common practice for many banks and other creditors, but most have now stopped doing this because it can be misleading.
  • The creditor is using a solicitor because they're taking you to court. This is not as common as you might think, and they must send you a 'letter of claim' in the post before sending any court forms.

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What can solicitors do to collect debt?

A solicitor can't do anything different to your original creditor. They can write to you or call you to ask for payments but they don't have any extra powers.

They could continue to add interest and charges or they could take you to court. But these actions are much less common than you might think.

Solicitors have to follow the same rules from the Financial Conduct Authority as your original creditor when they collect any debts regulated by the Consumer Credit Act. This includes most common debt types such as credit or store cards, overdrafts, personal or payday loans, catalogues or hire purchase.

Solicitors also have their own organisation called the Solicitors Regulation Authority that regulates what they do. This means solicitors can't harass you or treat you unfairly, and you can make a complaint if they do.

What should I do if I hear from a solicitor?

You don't need to send solicitors' letters to us, and you don't need to pay for your own solicitor.

Letters or calls from a solicitor about your debts are usually a sign that your financial situation is getting worse. This means it's time to get free and impartial debt help from us.

If you’ve been contacted by a solicitor and you're not sure what you need to do, call our debt Helpline. Our expert advisors will put together a budget with you, provide expert debt advice, and recommend the best debt solution to deal with the solicitor and any other debts you have.

Helping you become debt free...

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They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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