It can happen to everybody: you forgot to pay your energy bill or telephone bill. Then you might get a letter from a collection agency (incassobureau). They have to stick to certain rules, but unfortunately they often don’t do that.
What to do
When you forget to pay a bill, you should first get a reminder. This letter tells you that you have to pay within 14 days. It also tells you what the costs are if you don’t pay on time.
If you receive a letter from a collection agency, always check the following:
- Is it true that you didn’t pay in time? If you are in doubt that you have to pay, use the “incassobrief checker” on https://www.consuwijzer.nl/incassobrief-checker (Dutch only).
- Are the costs higher than legally allowed? You can check this on https://www.consuwijzer.nl/rekenhulp-incassokosten (Dutch only). With this tool, you can calculate the maximum costs you have to pay.
- Does the collection agency threaten you with consequences that are illegal? A collection agency is not allowed to send you a summons (dagvaarding). A summons always has to be delivered by a bailiff in person. A collection agency can’t confiscate your belongings. For confiscation (beslaglegging), a judge must have given permission, and a bailiff will come to your place to execute this. A collection agency can only warn you that they will send a bailiff (deurwaarder). If the collection agency threatens you with consequences that are illegal or the tone of voice is too threatening, you can file a complaint with Consuwijzer on https://www.consuwijzer.nl/klacht-indienen-bij-consuwijzer (Dutch only).
If you have paid a bill but shouldn’t have paid it, you can claim your money back. You can find an example of a letter on https://www.consuwijzer.nl/voorbeeldbrieven/rekeningen-en-incasso/voorbeeldbrief-terugvorderen-onterechte-betaling (Dutch only).
If you and the collection agency continue to have different views, it is best to seek legal advice.