If you do not pay an invoice or do not pay it on time, the organization or person with whom you are indebted (the creditor) can demand that you pay the invoice. The creditor can also engage a collection agency for this. A debt collection agency will send you 1 or more reminders (demands). You must pay this within 14 days.
Are you still not paying after reminders from the collection agency? Then the judge can order you to pay your debt plus all costs.
Creditor engages debt collection agency
If you do not pay bills or do not pay them on time, the creditor can engage a collection agency. You will have to deal with the following.
The creditor must send at least 1 payment reminder (demand) before he can charge you collection costs.
- You have 14 days to pay the bill.
- If you do not do this, you will also have to pay collection costs in addition to the invoice. The payment reminder must state how high the collection costs will be if you do not pay (on time).
- Not paying yet? Then the judge can order you to pay your debt plus all costs.
- With the judgment of the judge, the creditor can engage a bailiff. This way he can force you to pay. The bailiff can seize part of your income or benefit. He can also seize your bank account, household effects and possibly even your house.
A debt collection agency often feels more accessible
Many people have the idea that handing over an unpaid invoice to a collection agency is more accessible, this will also be the case instinctively. On the other hand, seasoned debtors are usually not impressed by a letter or phone call from a collection agency.
A collection agency has no legal authority to force debtors to pay. They can and should only request it. That is why various collection agencies call the debtors several times a day or week to ask when payment will be made. For example, the debtor is often (improperly) put under pressure to pay.
One of the differences between bailiffs and debt collection agencies is that bailiffs have a different way of working and are therefore more decisive than debt collection agencies. Bailiffs usually write two letters and call the debtor once.
If this does not lead to payment, they initiate legal proceedings on behalf of the creditor. Then the debtor is given the opportunity to tell his or her story to the judge, after which the judge orders the verdict. The bailiff can then collect the judgment. Only the bailiff can do that. Collection agencies do not have that authority.
A good agency can help with many legal battles
Good collection agencies often have one or more lawyers on staff, ready to take on your legal battles. While a ‘simple’ collection of money can be done by most employees, most agencies also offer other services. Do you own buildings or apartments and are you struggling with bad renters?
Then you can usually ask them to help you with dissolving a rental agreement (Dutch: ontbinding huurovereenkomst huurcontract) and drafting the contracts needed for that.
What are you waiting for? Make sure you find a good collection agency in your area and save their number in your phone – you never know when it’s needed!
Collection agency may not seize any belongings
According to the law, a debt collection agency is allowed less than a bailiff. A debt collection agency may not seize your goods, for example your belongings or your wages. A debt collection agency is also not allowed to issue official documents, such as a summons.