The operation of information companies for debtors having outstanding financial obligations (also known as tax collection companies) is regulated Law No.3758 / 2009, as amended by Law No.4038 / 2012. However, it is often that these companies do not comply with the law. For this reason consumers should be informed about their rights to proceed with complaints against these companies whenever necessary.
When information companies contact you, they should:
- Call you one time every two days or less often
- Call you on weekdays between 9:00 - 20:00
- To use Caller ID and display the telephone number when they call.
- The staff of the company must say his name, his status, the company name, the identification number with which it is registered with the competent Ministry and the purpose of communication
- You should be informed that the call is recorded and the data is kept for one year. After this time the data should be destroyed unless requested not to by the debtor or the General Secretariat of Trade and Consumer Protection. The files must be provided within 10 days. These files cannot be used as evidence against you
- Call you solely for information and negotiation of possible settlement conditions
- In case of written communication, on the document should appear all the company details (name, address, phone, etc.) And in any case not to include the name of the bank
The information companies are prohibited to:
- Call you later than 10 days when after your debt is classified as outstanding
- Call you for debts which are in regulation process
- Collect by any means outstanding debts
- Make telephone threats, insults, misleading information and exercise of physical or psychological violence
- Disparage you to your family / your workplace or threatening to do so
- Annoy your familiar
- Call you at work, unless it is the only phone number you have registered for communication
- Pretend to be employees of the bank, lawyers, court bailiffs, etc.
- Assign to another company or person other than their employees, to inform you for your outstanding debts
- Assign to lawyers and court bailiffs judicial claiming of your debts
- Charge you with expenses
- Visit you privately
Other useful information that you should be aware about debtor’s information companies is:
- Before the bank commissions to a collection agency to inform you about some outstanding debts, should have confirmed, by any available way, the debt with the debtor, have identified his ID and have informed him about the transmission of his data in the information company
- The bank should not assign to several information companies to inform you about the same debt.
- The borrower has the right to be provided with, free of charge from the information company, full and accurate details of the amount and origin of the debt within 10 working days after the request.
- If the borrower makes an agreement of debt with the information company, he should be notified within 10 days about the transcript of the arrangement. In this way, it is forbidden to worsen the situation of the debtor
- No bank assigns to Information Company or any other third party outstanding debts to be collected. This means that the only one competent to collect the outstanding debt is the bank.
In case of violating the provisions, it should be fined by the Hellenic Minister of Development between 5.000 € to 500.000 €. In case of relapse, the upper limit of the fine is doubled and the Minister may order the removal of the company from the registry for 1-6 months. In case of further offending, he may order the final deletion of the company.
Apart from information companies, it is often that banks cooperate with lawyers and law firms who are responsible to call the debtors. In such cases, although lawyers and law firms effectively operate as information companies they are not subject to the relevant law, therefore such obligations and restrictions mentioned above do not apply to them.
EKPIZO has received hundreds of complaints about law firms disturb the customers. For a long time we used to aske persistently, both in written form and verbally at meetings held with Athens Bar Association, their intervention for this problem by revealing details of consumer complaints. Furthermore, we have submitted a file including the collection agencies and law firms to the prosecutor for further judicial conduct investigation.
Ultimately, Athens Bar Association after considered the submitted evidence proceeded to the amendment of the Code of Conduct of Lawyers. According to the new regulation, lawyers and law firms are allowed to call the borrowers only once, to inform them about their debts and to consider possible extrajudicial debt restructuring.
If an agreement with the debtor cannot be reached, then the lawyer or law firm cannot call him again, but can notify him ONLY in written form, legal suit, with extrajudicial or any other lawful process.
In case of violation of these obligations, lawyers and law firms will be checked for a disciplinary offense and have penalties imposed on them.
Consumers should be particularly careful when contacted by law firms for their debts and should keep the following information:
- The name of the law firm
- The name of the official who called.
- The phone number the call was made
- Date and time of call
Then, if they call again from the same law firm, you should complain to Athens Bar Association and EKPIZO.
It is important that consumers are activated and take action by using the links available on our website, and make a complaint because it is the only way to penalize and stop the unaccountability of information companies as well as law firms that often substitute them.