Ethics & deontology
TCM Belgium is a member of various national and international organisations that are keen on norms.
ABR-BVI is itself a member of the FENCA (Federation of European National Collection Associations), a European umbrella organisation that has its own code of ethics.
If you communicate regarding a specific collection file, please provide the TCM reference (which is structured like « xxx/xxxx/xxxxx »). This will allow us to answer your question even faster.
Naturally, you’re welcome to use our contact form.
Code of conduct of the Belgian Collectors Associaton
Freely translated from Dutch; the Dutch text being the official text in case of a doubt.
1. Definition and affiliation conditions
1.1. A debt collection company is a legal entity whose corporate purpose is to collect claims of any kind on behalf of a third party (management for third parties, natural or legal persons), or on his own account (claims purchased).
1.2. To become member, a debt collection company has to:
- Be incorporated, subject to a legal obligation to publish its annual accounts and to be registered in the Central Company Databank. It must have a company identification number and be listed with the Federal Public Service for Economy as being a debt collector.
- Have carried on debt collection activities for at least 3 years. A candidate that could not meet this requirement can be admitted as a “trainee”. The probationer has access to Plenary Assemblies.
1.3. The member (or trainee) shall follow the rules and regulations of this code of conduct.
2. General rules
2.1. In its debt collection activities, the member (or trainee) must behave so as not to compromise the reputation of the profession.
2.2. In its prospecting and marketing activities, the member (or trainee) must behave so as not to compromise the reputation of the profession. He must see to it that the relevant regulations on advertising are complied with.
2.3. The member (or trainee) commits to carry out debt collection and any related activities with accuracy and thoroughness, in a good, businesslike manner. As third party collector, the member (or trainee) agrees to process the debt recovery mission in the interest of his client, the creditor, with all the objectivity and accuracy required.
2.4. The member (or trainee) shall apply all relevant legal provisions. In particular, he commits to deal only with debt that are lawful, monetary, immediately due and which can be proven.
2.5 It is important for the member (or trainee) to be aware of the activity and the identity of his clients and of other professional contacts to avoid any connection with criminal or illegal activities.
Its internal processes will include the adequate controls and management procedures to protect the member (or trainee) and the association against such risks; to safeguard their reputation and to ensure the respect of the applicable law and regulations.
2.6. The member must mention his association membership on its letterhead, within 6 months following his affiliation. When a debt collector ceases to be a member, for whatever reason, he must remove the reference to the membership on its letterhead within 3 months from the notification by registered mail of the association’s decision to exclude a member or the member’s decision to renounce his membership. Failure to apply this provision will entail an automatic daily penalty of 250.00 EUR.
2.7. Within 12 months of his membership, the member (or trainee) is required to subscribe to professional liability insurance, through the Association.
3. Financial directives
3.1. Membership of the association is linked to the strength of the member (or trainee) in terms of liquidity, solvency and equity. The purpose is to determine if the member (or trainee) would be able to meet its obligations regarding the amounts recovered on behalf of third parties.
3.2. Before being admitted as a member of the association, the candidate-member will have to meet the minimal requirements of the Act 3.1.
3.3. Every year the Association will appoint an expert to analyze the stability of these financial criteria.
3.4. If the member (or trainee) doesn’t meet one or more criteria as listed in Art. 3.1., the Board will ask the member (or trainee) to provide elements supporting the presumption of liquidity and solvency of the member (or trainee). If only one criterion is not met, the Board will assess the need to submit the case to the General Assembly. If more than one criterion are not met, the Board will submit the case to the General Assembly. The General Assembly will then take appropriate sanctions, which include suspension or expulsion of the member (or trainee).
3.5. The member (or trainee) must cooperate to those controls and will provide all the necessary information upon request of the expert appointed by the Association.
3.6. The costs related to this control shall be borne on the member (or trainee).
4. Management of the company
4.1. The member (or trainee) commits to manage his company in a businesslike manner. He must particularly warrant that every collection action is recorded and stored in adequate media (in accordance with the legal retention times) to guarantee the comprehensiveness and a quick search of such action.
4.2. As part of the good management of the company, the member (or trainee) agrees to record all its financial transactions in accounting books and to organize its accounting books so as to be able to provide information on third parties funds at any time. The member (or trainee) commits to keep carefully all the information according the applicable legal regulations.
4.3. The member (or trainee) commits to have a bank account were payments related to the professional activity are clearly distinct from his personal assets.
5. Personal data and privacy protection
5.1. The member (or trainee) shall ensure protection of all information gathered during its missions. The member (or trainee) will particularly make sure to respect the Law of the 8 Dec 1992 on the protection of privacy with respect to treatment of personal data.
5.2. The member (or trainee) will not allow a third party to consult or obtain the contents of a collection mission.
5.3. The destruction of the records related to a collection mission must follow strict rules to prevent the member (or trainee) to violate the provisions of the Act 5.2.
Responsibility vs. creditors
6. Relationship with the clients
6.1. Every collection mission must be confirmed to the client. Depending on the length and the extent of the existing contractual relationship, each case will have either a separated convention or a global one, for a definite or unlimited period of time. The member (or trainee) may, without prejudice to this code of conduct, write his convention freely.
6.2. At least once a month and unless otherwise expressly agreed, the member (or trainee) must provide a detailed statement of all amounts received and must transfer them to the client.
6.3. For every mission, the member (or trainee) must itemize all fees charged to the client unless otherwise expressly agreed. The member (or trainee) agrees to refund all undue or excess payments made by the client, the debtor or any third parties within one month from the date the member (or trainee) could reasonably be aware of it or when his attention was drawn on it.
6.4. If the client requests some information about a case, the member (or trainee) must provide this information as soon as possible and at the latest within 30 days of the request.
6.5. The member (or trainee) has the right to not to disclose data to his client if the client doesn’t meet its essential obligations in a repeated way. This provision doesn’t apply if the non-disclosure would harm the client to a disproportionate extent.
Responsibility vs. debtors
7. Attitude towards debtors
7.1. The member (or trainee) will act according to the client’s instructions and the applicable laws; and with respect towards the debtor and his privacy. He will clearly introduce himself, without any disguise or misrepresentation. He will adopt a correct behavior, exempt from intrusive or intimidating maneuver.
7.2. Whatever the nature of the claim and according to the law of 20 December 2002, the member (or trainee) shall not:
a) Send written documents that lead to wrongly conclude that they come from a legal authority;
b) Send written documents containing misleading information on the consequences of payment default;
c) Have indication on the envelope suggesting that the mail is about debt collection;
d) Add fees that are not agreed upon or not legally permitted;
e) Investigate with the neighbors, family or employer on the debtor on the solvency of the debtor or to communicate information to them; without prejudice to the actions of a legal seizure procedure;
f) Ask private individuals to sign bills of exchange.
He shall communicate a detailed statement of the debt upon request of the debtor or a debtor assigned representative.
7.3. Visits to the debtor must always be agreed upon by the client; at the start of the agreement or on a case by case basis.
The interview with the debtors must always take place under friendly conditions, with courtesy, diplomacy and dialogue. The member (or trainee) shall look for a positive way out of indebtedness, taking into account the possible socio-economic problems of the debtors.
The persons authorized to make visits:
- Must be able to prove that they are employee or sub-contractor of the member (or trainee) and that they are allowed to make that visit;
- Shall never ask payment of management fees or visit fees to the debtor;
- Will hand over a receipt in exchange for any cash payment. This receipt must mention the identity of the debtor, the payment date and the claim reference number.
Control & sanctions
8. Monitoring, control and complaints
8.1. The association and its Monitoring Committee are in control of compliance with this code of conduct.
8.2. Any complaint about the practices of a member (or trainee) will be made in writing to the association and will state the name and address of the person or entity involved in the facts and circumstances that prompted the grievance.
8.3. The Monitoring Committee will confirm reception of the complaint to the complainant within maximum 15 days.
8.4. The Monitoring Committee will consider the complaint without any further delay and will take relevant actions in accordance to this code of conduct and to statutory provisions.
a. If it concludes that this member (or trainee) has violated the guidelines of this code of conduct and if it is authorized by the type of complaint, he will ask the member (or trainee) to contact the complainant in order to reach a reasonable and realistic compromise. The Monitoring committee will monitor the complaint until resolution and will notify the complainant.
b. If the Monitoring Committee considers that there has been no violation of the code of conduct, it will inform the complainant immediately. The member (or trainee) will receive a copy of the complaint and the response of the association
8.5. If the Monitoring Committee considers that there was a violation of this code of conduct, it will inform the Board of Directors; which will take appropriate sanctions.
9.1. Penalties for violations of the provisions of this code of conduct are: written warning, suspension and exclusion; in the manner set in the by-laws of the association.
10. Final Provision
10.1. This code of conduct as well as the by-laws of the association are available on the website of the Association: www.abrbvi.be.
10.2. Copies are available upon request at the secretary office of the association.