Money and Mental Health response to joint regulators statement on debt collection practices

18 March 2024


Today the FCA, Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom – who regulate financial services, energy, water and telecoms firms respectively – have published a joint letter threatening to take “robust action” against firms if they fail to meet expectations to minimise customer harm caused by debt collection practices.

In particular, the statement recognises the harm being caused by the high frequency of debt communications from firms when a customer is behind on a payment, which can be exacerbated when customers are behind on multiple bills with different firms.

Previous Money and Mental Health published in December 2023 showed that (1)

  • Nearly half of people who are behind on consumer credit payments say they feel harassed (49%) or overwhelmed (48%) by the volume of contact they receive from their creditors. At the national level, this amounts to 2.5 million people who say that they feel harassed by the frequency of contacts they receive from their creditors.
  • This harassment comes in the context of half (50%) of people who behind on bills saying they have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings due to the cost of living crisis.

In response, Conor D’Arcy, Interim Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:

We’re really pleased to see regulators come together to recognise the harms that debt collection practices can cause, and to warn firms that they will face robust action if they fail to reduce that harm. People tell us that they often feel bombarded and harassed by the volume of messages they get from creditors about missed payments, and that this causes real distress when they are already under huge strain.”

At a time when half of people behind on consumer bills say they have felt suicidal as a result of rising costs, it’s absolutely vital that regulators act. So it’s a positive step that regulators have given firms a clear indication that inundating people in debt is not acceptable, and should reduce the frequency of debt communications when it is causing harm.”

But regulators need to go further. In particular, they should set clear limits on how often firms can contact people so that all firms understand what exceeds an ‘appropriate’ level of communication. We will be watching closely to see if regulators follow through on their words and punish firms who fail to meet these standards.”



To set up an interview or for any other media enquiries, please contact Rachel Fergusson, External Affairs Officer at Money and Mental Health, on 07935 216 804 or [email protected]

Notes to Editors

(1) YouGov polling of 2,069 UK adults conducted in October 2023. Read the full report here.

About the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works.