The Consumer Ombudsman has reminded collection agencies of their obligation to provide debtors information on their debt situation. Complaints received by the Consumer Ombudsman indicate that agencies have not always complied with this provision in the Debt Collection Act.
According to the Act, a debtor has the right on request to obtain from the creditor free of charge up-to-date information on the total amount of debts and grounds, an itemized list of unpaid debts and instalments, and information on the calculation of accumulated interest and costs. According to the commentary a debtor can also request information on the expiration of debt and its interruption.
Obtaining up-to-date information has been difficult particularly in situations where the debtor owes several debts to the same creditor and debt collection has been divided between the creditor, a collection agency and enforcement. If guarantors are also required to pay off debt, this can add to the confusion.
Information should be supplied promptly
A debtor should receive requested information within a reasonable period. The Act and its commentary do not set deadlines for providing information. The Consumer Ombudsman emphasized that supplying information should in no case take several months. This would be unfair to the consumer.
Collection agencies were also reminded that, although the Act only speaks of "the creditor", the obligation to provide information also applies to collection agencies. A collection agency must supply a debtor information when a creditor has transferred the whole receivable to a collection agency and also when it collects a debt on the basis of a creditor's commission. This ensures that a debtor can get the information he needs without difficulties and delays.