Debt collection process
Debt collection covers all actions and measures that are used in order to make a debtor pay an overdue receivable. In Finland, the professional debt collection agencies tend to divide the debt collection process into three main phases: Amicable Collection, Legal Collection, and Surveillance.
During the so called voluntary or amicable collection phase, the aim is to find a voluntary solution for settling the overdue debt. If the outstanding amount is too large to be paid at once, a mutually satisfactory payment plan will be agreed on.
During amicable collection, the debt collection agency sends a payment demand letter to the debtor. Additionally, the debtor is also approached by other means: for example, by telephone, e-mail and SMS messages. The aim is to open a dialogue to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, before the following phases of debt collection.
If the desired outcome is not achieved during the amicable collection, the collection will potentially be continued to legal collection. At this stage, the debtor's creditworthiness is usually checked in order to decide whether to proceed with legal collection or possibly debt surveillance.
The legal collection phase is initiated by filing a summons application in the district court of the debtor's domicile. The application provides detailed information on the outstanding debt as well as on the collection actions already taken.
If the debtor fails to settle the outstanding debt by the deadlines specified by the district court, the court will issue a debt collection judgment that results in a payment default entry in the debtor's credit data file. The district court judgment is a ground for collecting the debt through enforcement.
The bailiff initiates collection proceedings in accordance with the judgment. Typically, the bailiff sends the debtor instructions for making a voluntary payment or instructions for negotiating a possible payment program. If no solution can be found through a voluntary approach, the bailiff can take enforcement actions and a part of the debtor's income will be seized in order to settle the overdue debts.
Surveillance is the final stage of the collection process for insolvent debtors. If the debtor is found to be insolvent during amicable collection, the legal collection stage can be skipped and the debt is transferred directly to debt surveillance. Also, as a result of legal collection, the enforcement authority may find the debtor to be insolvent and thus the debt is transferred to debt surveillance.
Debt collection agency manages the debts in surveillance and monitors the financial status of the debtors. Once the financial situation improves, more active debt collection actions can be started again.