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What is International Debt Collection?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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International debt collection is a collection process that involves working with operatives in more than one country. In many instances, this type of collection service is provided by debt collection agencies that either have a physical presence in all the nations involved, or have working agreements with agencies based in those countries to attempt to collect an outstanding debt. While the actual process of international debt collection is very similar to collecting past due debts on a domestic level, the need to allow for differences in financial laws and regulations from one nation to another does impact the choice of strategies involved.

Typically, the process of international debt collection will begin by attempting to make contact with the debtor, confirming the validity of the debt, and arranging a payment schedule that will allow the balance in the collection account to be settled. Depending on the preferences of the holder of the debt, the collection agency may be allowed to schedule a series of payments over a period of time that the debtor can reasonably manage. In other instances, a single payment to retire the entire debt is demanded.

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During the initial phase of an international debt collection attempt, much of the communication is managed by telephone calls and by post. Assuming those measures are successful, the debtor remits payment to either an in-country location of the collection agency, or to an affiliate or partner of that agency. In some cases, the debtor may be required to remit the payment using electronic means, or to mail the payment to the country where the creditor resides.

If these first steps in the international debt collection efforts are not successful, then representatives of the agency in the nation where the debtor resides take legal action. The exact nature of that action will depend on debt collection laws and procedures that apply to that country. Ultimately, the representatives will work with the court system to attach a lien on property or assets owned by the debtor, or even to file a suit that would require the debtor to pay or face imprisonment.

As with all forms of collection, agencies that provide international debt collection services are expected to operate within the laws relevant to the nations involved. This means the agencies must refrain from any activity that is deemed debt collection harassment by local laws, or that require specific efforts to take place before filing any type of lawsuit. In situations where an agency is found to use practices or procedures that are not in keeping with local laws, a fine may be assessed or the right to operate in that nation may be revoked altogether.

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