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CONC 7.9 Contact with customers

Contacting customers

CONC 7.9.1R

A firm must ensure that a person contacting a customer on its behalf explains to the customer the following matters:

  1. (1)

    who the person contacting the customer works for;

  2. (2)

    the person's role in or relationship with the firm; and

  3. (3)

    the purpose of the contact.

    [Note: paragraph 3.3c of DCG]

CONC 7.9.2R

A firm must not in a communication with the customer make a statement which may induce the customer to contact the firm misunderstanding the reason for making contact.

[Note: paragraph 3.3d of DCG]

CONC 7.9.3G
  1. (1)

    An example of a misleading communication in CONC 7.9.2 R is a calling card left at the customer's address which states or implies that the customer has missed a delivery and encourages the customer to make contact.

    [Note: paragraph 3.3d (box) of DCG]

  2. (2)

    The clear fair and not misleading rule in CONC 3.3.1 R also applies to a firm in relation to a communication with a customer in relation to credit agreement1 or a consumer hire agreement.

CONC 7.9.4R

A firm must not contact customers at unreasonable times and must pay due regard to the reasonable requests of customers (for example, customers who work in a shift pattern) in respect of when, where and how they may be contacted.

[Note: paragraphs 3.3j and k of DCG]

CONC 7.9.5R

A firm must not require a customer to make contact on a premium rate or other special rate telephone number the charge for which is higher than to a standard geographic telephone number.

[Note: paragraph 3.3l of DCG]

CONC 7.9.5AG

3Firms should note the effect of the call charges rule in GEN 7.

Communication with third parties

CONC 7.9.6R

A firm must not unfairly disclose or threaten to disclose information relating to the customer's debt to a third party.

[Note: paragraph 3.7p of DCG]

CONC 7.9.7R

When contacting a customer:

  1. (1)

    a firm must ensure that it does not act in a way likely to be publicly embarrassing to the customer; and

  2. (2)

    a firm must take reasonable steps to ensure that third parties do not become aware that the customer is being pursued in respect of a debt

    [Note: paragraph 3.7q of DCG].

CONC 7.9.8G

The reasonable steps required by CONC 7.9.7 R may, for example, require a firm to ensure that:

  1. (1)

    post sent by the firm is properly addressed to the customer and marked “private and confidential” or an expression to the same effect;

  2. (2)

    where the firm has a name which indicates its debt collection activities, its name is not shown so that third parties may see the name on the firm's communications.

CONC 7.9.9G

CONC 7.9.7 R would not preclude a firm sending a statutory notice to a customer's last known address, where it takes reasonable steps including those referred to in CONC 7.9.8 G.

CONC 7.9.10R

A firm must not disclose details of a debt to an individual without first establishing, by suitably appropriate means, that the individual is (or acts on behalf of) the borrower or hirer under the relevant agreement).

[Note: paragraph 3.9b of DCG]

CONC 7.9.11G

A firm which:

  1. (1)

    threatens debt recovery action against the “occupier” of particular premises; or

  2. (2)

    sends a payment demand to all persons sharing the same name and date of birth or address as the customer;

is likely to contravene CONC 7.9.10 R.

[Note: paragraphs 3.9a (box) and 3.9b (box) of DCG]

Debt collection visits

CONC 7.9.12R

Unless it is not practicable to do so, a2 firm must ensure that a person visiting a customer on its behalf:

2
  1. (1)

    clearly explains to the customer the purpose and intended outcome of the proposed visit; and

    [Note: paragraph 3.12 of DCG]

  2. (2)

    gives the customer adequate notice of the date and likely time (at a reasonable time of day) of the visit.

    [Note: paragraph 3.13g of DCG]

CONC 7.9.13G

Failure to explain the purpose and intended outcome of a proposed initial visit to the customer or2 to give adequate notice prior to a proposed2 initial visit to the customer may not contravene CONC 7.9.12 R, provided that2 the customer is happy to speak to the person pursuing recovery of the debt at that time. However, where, at the initial visit the customer indicates a preference to use the first visit to agree a more convenient time for a future visit, the person pursuing recovery of the debt should respect the customer's wishes. It is important that the customer is given reasonable time to prepare for a visit and should not be coerced or pressurised into immediate discussions or decisions.

[Note: paragraph 3.13g (box) of DCG]

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CONC 7.9.14R

A firm must ensure that all persons visiting a customer's property on its behalf act at all times in accordance with the requirements of CONC 7 and do not:

  1. (1)

    act in a threatening manner towards a customer;

  2. (2)

    visit a customer at a time when they know or suspect that the customer is, or may be, particularly vulnerable;

  3. (3)

    visit at an inappropriate location unless the customer has expressly consented to the visit;

  4. (4)

    enter a customer's property without the customer's consent or an appropriate court order;

  5. (5)

    refuse to leave a customer's property when it becomes apparent that the customer is unduly distressed or might not have the mental capacity to make an informed repayment decision or to engage in the debt recovery process;

  6. (6)

    refuse to leave a customer's property when reasonably asked to do so;

  7. (7)

    visit or threaten to visit a customer without the customer's prior agreement when a debt is deadlocked or reasonably queried or disputed (see CONC 7.14 (Settlements, disputed and deadlocked debt)).

    [Note: paragraphs 3.12 and 3.13 of DCG]

CONC 7.9.15G

It would normally be inappropriate to visit a customer at the customer place of work or at a hospital where the customer is a patient.