Codes of Ethics

Principles of Fair Practice

In general terms, the Bank is to ensure that it will directly or indirectly, via its providers:
  • treat debtors fairly – debtors should not be subjected to aggressive practices, inappropriate coercion, or conduct which is deceitful, oppressive, unfair or improper, whether unlawful or not;
  • be transparent in their dealings with debtors and others – information provided should be clear and should not be confusing or misleading;
  • exercise forbearance and consideration, in particular towards debtors experiencing difficulty – the Bank is to work with debtors with a view to providing them with reasonable time and opportunity to repay debts and, where appropriate, direct them to sources of independent debt advice; 
  • act proportionately when seeking to recover debts, taking into account debtors' circumstances – actions taken in respect of arrears or default should give proper consideration to available options and the likely effect of such actions on the debtor; 
  • establish policies for engaging with debtors and other relevant parties, including having appropriate mechanisms for responding to reasonably queried and disputed debt1;
  • establish policies for identifying and dealing with particularly vulnerable debtors2
Where dealing with debtors in different jurisdictions, the Bank is to ensure it takes appropriate account of any differences in law or court procedure, which may impact significantly on the debtor’s position/rights.

The following practices will not be considered to be fair and, therefore, are to be avoided when conducting business of debt recovery for and on behalf of the Bank.


The Bank is to communicate in a clear, accurate and transparent manner. It is unfair to communicate with debtors, or their representatives, in whatever form, in an unclear, inaccurate or misleading manner. Examples of unfair or improper practices are as follows:

a. use of official looking documents intended to, or likely to, mislead debtors as to their status, e.g. documents made to resemble court documents;
b. leaving out or presenting information in such a way that it creates, or has the potential to create, a false or misleading impression, or exploits a debtor's lack of knowledge;
c. those contacting debtors not making clear who they are, who they work for, what their role is and the purpose of the contact;
d. sending misleading communications or making misleading statements which may induce a debtor to make contact on the basis of a false or misleading premise, e.g. leaving a calling card at a debtor's address which states or implies that the debtor has missed a delivery and encourages him to make contact;
e.unnecessary and unhelpful use of legal and technical language;
f. failing to provide debtors or their appointed representatives with information on the status of debts, e.g. not providing balance statements when reasonably requested;
g. failing to confirm, formally and unequivocally, that an offer to settle a debt, accompanied by the relevant payment, has been accepted as full and final settlement of that debt (when this is the case);
h. contacting debtors at unreasonable times;
i. ignoring or disregarding debtors' reasonable requests in respect of when, where and how to contact them, e.g. shift workers may ask not to be telephoned during certain times of the day;
j. asking or instructing debtors to make contact on premium or other special rates.

False Representation of Authority and/or legal position

The Bank should accurately and truthfully represent their authority/status and the correct legal position with regard to debts and the debt recovery process. Those contacting debtors must not be deceitful by misrepresenting their authority and/or the correct legal position with regards to debts or the debt recovery process. Examples of unfair or improper practices are as follows: 

a. falsely implying or claiming authority or misrepresenting authority, e.g. claiming to work on instructions from the courts as bailiffs/marshal, when this is not the case;
b. falsely implying or stating that action can, or will, be taken when legally it cannot be taken, e.g. stating or implying that bankruptcy or sequestration proceedings might be initiated when the balance of the outstanding debt is too low to qualify for such proceedings;
c. falsely stating or implying that a particular course of action will ensue before it is possible to know whether such action would be permissible;
d. falsely implying or stating that action has been taken when it has not;
e. falsely implying or stating that failure to pay a debt is a criminal offence;
f. pursuing third parties for payment when they are not liable, e.g. pursuing a relative of a debtor for a debt when the relative is not a party to the credit agreement;
g. taking or threatening to take court action in the wrong jurisdiction.

Physical/Psychological Harassment

The Bank should not engage in physical or psychological harassment of debtors or relevant third parties. Putting undue pressure on debtors or relevant third parties is considered to be oppressive and an unfair or improper practice. Examples of unfair or improper practices are as follows:

a. contacting debtors at unreasonable times and/or at unreasonable intervals;
b. pressurising debtors to raise funds by selling their property or by taking on further borrowing (including extending their existing borrowing);
c. multiple businesses seeking to recover the same debt at the same time, resulting in repetitive and/or frequent contact with the debtor (or his representative) by different parties;
d. When seeking to recover a debt, failing to take appropriate steps with a view to ensuring that available data/information to inform the pursuit and recovery of a debt is accurate and adequate, such that the debtor and the (amount of the) debt can be correctly identified from that data/information;
e. failing to ensure that an accurate and adequate history of the debt is passed between parties;
f. failing to inform the debtor when responsibility for recovery of a debt and/or the legal right to recover a debt has been transferred or assigned to a (named) third party;
g. making threatening statements or gestures or taking actions which could reasonably be construed as suggesting harm, or risk of harm, to debtors;
h. making undue, excessive or otherwise inappropriate use of statutory demands when pursuing debts.

Deceptive and/or Unfair Methods

The Bank should be truthful and fair in their dealings with debtors and others. Dealings with debtors and others are not to be deceitful and/or unfair. Examples of unfair or improper practices are as follows: 

a. Sending demands for payment, by any means, to individuals when it is uncertain whether they are the actual debtor (e.g. sending a payment demand to all people sharing the same name/date of birth as a debtor in the hope that contact with the actual debtor will be made);
b. inappropriately passing on debtors' details to lead generators or other entities;
c. not passing on to creditors payments received from debtors and/or updated details of debtor's outstanding balances, in a timely manner or at all;
d. when a debt is reasonably queried or disputed, failing to investigate and/or provide details (possibly including, for example, details of account history, payment schedules and relevant correspondence) to the debtor, as appropriate, in a timely manner or at all;
e. requiring individuals to prove they are not the actual debtors who owe an outstanding debt (e.g. requiring individuals to establish that they are not the actual debtors by producing a driving licence or passport or by providing a copy of their signature);
f. failing to cease debt recovery activity whilst investigating a reasonably queried or disputed debt when the debtors have, or appears as if they may have, valid grounds for the query or dispute;
g. misusing a continuous payment authority (CPA)3 including by (i) using the CPA other than as set out in the credit agreement or without the informed consent of the debtor or a relevant third party; (ii) using the CPA in a manner which is unreasonable or disproportionate or excessive in failing to have proper regard to the possibility that a debtor is in financial difficulties and the consequent need for forbearance; (iii) failing to document the CPA appropriately or to explain it adequately before entering into the credit agreement; (iv) seeking improperly or unfairly to inhibit or discourage the debtor from cancelling the CPA.

Charging for Debt Recovery

The Bank charges should not be levied inappropriately or unfairly. Examples: 

a. misleading debtors into believing they are legally liable to pay recovery charges when this is not the case;
b. claiming recovery costs from a debtor in the absence of express contractual provision to be able to do so4;
c. not giving a clear indication in credit agreements of the amount of any charges payable on default.

Debt Collection Visits

Those visiting debtors must not act in a threatening or unclear manner, for example, by: 

a. not making clear the purpose and intended outcome of any proposed visit;
b. visiting debtors at a time when it is understood or suspected that they are, or may be, particularly vulnerable;
c. not leaving the debtors' property when it becomes apparent that they are unduly distressed or it appears that they are particularly vulnerable;
d. entering the debtors' property without their consent or an appropriate court order;
e. not leaving the debtors' property when reasonably asked to do so;
f. not giving adequate notice to the debtors of the time and date of a visit.

Statute/Time-Barred Debt

The Bank should not use unfair methods (including misrepresenting the legal position) if seeking to recover statute/time- barred debt (prescribed by Law). The following may be unfair or improper practices: 

a. pursuing the debt when the time period in favour of the creditor has been barred or expired by law;
b. misleading debtors as to their rights and obligations.

Data Accuracy

The Bank should have appropriate processes in place with a view to ensuring that customer data is accurate and take reasonable steps to ensure that it is adequate, with a view to only the actual debtor and valid debts being pursued for repayment. Businesses processing5 (sensitive) personal data are subject to a number of legal obligations under the Data Protection Act (implementing the relative EU Personal Data Directive). The obtaining, recording, holding and passing (including 'selling') of information about individuals for the purposes of debtor tracing/debt recovery will involve the processing of personal data – so businesses processing such data, in part for the purposes of debt recovery, are obliged (as 'data controllers') to observe and adhere to the data protection principles. To avoid the risk of 'mistaken identity' (where a person who is not the actual debtor is pursued for the repayment of a debt) and with a view to ensuring that debtors are pursued for the correct amount of any unpaid debt, all entities involved in debt recovery need to take reasonable steps to ensure that they maintain accurate and adequate data (including in respect of debt history).
The Bank is to ensure that it has accurate and adequate data, prior to pursuing debtors for outstanding debts, by taking appropriate steps to verify the data. The following may constitute unfair or improper practices:
a. pursuing debtors without taking reasonable steps to verify the accuracy and adequacy of relevant data;
b. failing to ensure that accurate and adequate information held about a borrower in relation to the provision of credit is made available to its own department/staff involved in the debt recovery process;
c. failing to identify to prospective debt purchasers debts known to be statute/time-barred;
d. failing to identify to prospective debt purchasers debtors understood to be particularly vulnerable;
e. failing to update systems or records or CRA data (where applicable) where the debt has been paid;
f. negligently passing on inaccurate or inadequate account data/debt history to other parties;
g. third parties, including tracing agents, debt collection agencies and law firms, which are involved in the debt recovery process failing to pass on to creditors information provided by individuals disputing debts.


What constitutes harassment during debt collection? Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any other people they contact. Some examples of harassment are:
  • Obscene or profane language
  • Threats of violence or harm
  • Publicly distributing lists of people who refuse to pay their debts (excludes credit reporting company)
  • Calling you without telling you who they are. 
Can my account be referred to a collection agency before my debt is due? Sometimes collection agencies manage the entire receivables process for a Bank/creditor, so this can happen. However, it is rare that you would receive collection calls before a debt is due. It is possible that if the collection agency is managing the receivables for a creditor, they may call to advise you of payment terms, due dates, etc., but they should not ask you for early payment. You should receive a statement before you are asked to make a payment.

Are there laws that limit what debt collectors can say or do? Yes. There are laws that govern debt collection practices. The law prohibits debt collection companies from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to collect past due debts from you.

Can debt collectors call me anytime they want, day or night, about my debt? No. Debt collectors may not harass you or anyone else, over the phone or through any other form of contact. Debt collectors should not call at times they should know are inconvenient), such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you specifically agree to it.

What information does a debt collector have to give me about the debt? Any debt collector who contacts you claiming you owe payment on a debt is to tell you certain information about the debt. That information includes the name of the creditor, the amount owed, and how you can seek verification of the debt.

Can debt collectors tell other people about my debt? No. A debt collector may contact other people, but generally only to find out where you live, what your phone number is, and where you work. Debt collectors are generally prohibited from contacting people you know more than once, and they may not say they are trying to collect on a debt.

Can a debt collector try to deceive me to collect on a debt? No. Debt collectors are prohibited from deceiving you while trying to collect a debt. For example, a debt collector may not:
  • Falsely claim that the debt collector or its employees are attorneys or government representatives
  • Falsely say you have committed a crime
  • Falsely say they operate or work for a credit reporting company
  • Make false threats, such as arrest
  • Lie about documents, for example, saying forms are legal documents when they are not
  • Lie about how much you owe or to whom you owe the money
Does a debt collector have to verify for me how much I owe? When? Yes, any debt collector who contacts you claiming you owe payment on a debt is required by law to tell you certain information about the debt. That information includes the name of the creditor, the amount owed, and how you can dispute the debt or seek verification of the debt.

Can a debt collector garnish my bank account or my wages? In some States, including Malta, wage garnishments are not allowed in total or only beyond a minimum protected amount. Reference is to be made to the applicable local legislation. Should the Bank or the debt collectors on its behalf successfully sue then a possible freeze or appropriation of funds may be allowed.

A close family member dies. Can a debt collector contact me about the debts? Sometimes a debt collector will contact the deceased’s survivors looking for the person authorized to pay for the pending debts. Although the debt collector may contact you, it does not mean you have to pay the debt out of your own money if you have not assumed legal responsibility to do so.

1.Where reference is made to 'reasonably queried or disputed debt' it is to mean justifiably queried or disputed. No attempt is made to protect 'won't pays' from repaying debts duly owed, but those who are being mistakenly pursued for a debt they do not owe (or genuinely believe they do not owe) or those who are being pursued for an incorrect amount of unpaid debt.
2. Most debtors may be regarded as 'vulnerable', to some degree, by virtue of their financial circumstances. Of these, some may be, permanently or temporarily, rendered particularly vulnerable by virtue of the fact that they are significantly constrained in terms of their ability to engage appropriately with those pursuing them for the repayment of debts owed. Debtors with mental health issues and/or with mental capacity limitations may fall into this category.
3. A continuous payment authority authorises the creditor to withdraw sums from the debtor’s account, subject to agreed terms, but not through a direct debit, standing order or similar payment mechanism.
4. Even where there is an express provision, a charge may still be unfair if it does not reflect actual and necessary costs.
5. 'Processing' has a very broad meaning for the purposes of the DPA and includes obtaining, recording or holding the data, or carrying out any operation on the data including disclosing or disseminating the data (as well as using it for a particular purpose).

Cashper, your friendly financier