Bailiffs: Your stories

Image caption Bailiffs currently charge for sending letters, making debts rise

Laws to tackle aggressive bailiffs will be introduced next year in England and Wales, the government has announced.

New safeguards will prevent bailiffs from using force against people who owe money and they will no longer have free rein to fix their own fees, because set fee scales will be brought in.

BBC News website readers have been sharing their experiences of dealing with bailiffs and working as one.

Former bailiff - Gareth, Gwent

I was employed as a bailiff for eight years before changing to another company. I quickly became aware the second company used unethical tactics and scammed debtors out of money by any means they could.

The company would mail letters through the post rather than attend in person and charge a fee for the privilege even though the demand would say a bailiff had called themselves and attended.

When they did attend premises, they often charged a fee for a van they rented to remove goods even though they would be in a small car.

They would love to call on rent jobs, whoever did the job would ensure cash payment was made for the fees. They would say three people attended when two did so the money was split two ways instead of three and often didn't declare the money collected or put it through the books.

However, not all companies are like this. It depends on what company you work for. The first company I was at for eight years worked much more professionally and abided by the rules.

They were fair to debtors and always gave them time to pay, working as more of a negotiator between the client and the debtor, the tactics they employed in my opinion worked much better.

Car seized - Shireen, Buckinghamshire

I have recently been very ill, I've been in hospital and staying at my daughter's house recovering. When I came home I knew I had to catch up with paying my bills. My council tax was overdue so I paid it.

However, later that morning a bailiff put a letter through my door saying they were seizing my car, a Jaguar. I only owed £170 and I'd paid it.

I was mortified and very scared. I'm disabled and so is my daughter. I would never have been able to go anywhere without a car.

I phoned the company twice and waited about 20 minutes each time but the lines were busy, nearly a week later I managed to make contact.

By then the council had informed them I'd paid and no further action would be taken. However the stress it caused didn't help my recovery.

Wrongly accused - Alastair, Berkshire

I bought my new home in 2003. Even up to last week, nine years later, I receive letters from these firms addressed to the previous owners chasing debts they incurred.

I'm frequently away and I dread being away on the off chance that one of these firms call at my house.

Their code of conduct states there are four methods to chase debts including using "public databases".

These methods of chasing debts should be mandatory for example a simple check of voter registration would give a good indication that the previous owner of my house no longer lives at this address.

Current bailiff - Daniel, Manchester

I am a certificated bailiff and I think reform is needed.

However the government needs to be careful that they do not affect the rights of the creditor to recover what they are owed.

Personally I am sick of the bad image bailiffs have.

We are not all bad and we do not all go around bullying the vulnerable yet we all get punished when complaints are highlighted via the press.

Called police on bailiff - John, Essex

I think any legislation that comes in to control bailiffs is a good thing. They are an appalling breed of people who use any tactics possible.

I am a single father and I remember years ago when I was made redundant I couldn't pay off a council tax debt.

A bailiff knocked on my door whilst I was upstairs and my son answered the door thinking it was his grandmother.

The bailiff then started pricing items up in front of my son - including the computer console he was playing at the time. I told him to get out but he wouldn't budge claiming that my son had told him he could come in.

It took my threatening to call the police to get the man out. As an institution, the bailiff system is morally wrong and flawed.

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