The 7 Best Debt Collection Services in the UK in 2024

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Unpaid invoices can have very real implications for your business. A recent report from Nerdwallet found that 55% of SMEs in the UK have outstanding invoices from the 2022/23 tax year, and over a third of businesses are considering reducing spend in other areas because of this, including downsizing their offices or even pausing recruiting.

What are the top 7 debt collection agencies in the UK?

Based on our research, these are the providers we’d recommended. Use our cost comparison tool to find the best service for your business.

  1. Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd Best overall
  2. Safe Collections  Best for a personalised approach
  3. DLC  Best for large corporate companies
  4. Darcey Quigley & Co  Best for small businesses or individuals
  5. Access Credit Management  Best for businesses with international clients
  6. Hilton-Baird  Best for outsourcing all your debt recovery needs
  7. Legal for Landlords Best for landlords

With the UK still on “recession high alert” in the final quarter of 2023, a healthy cash flow is arguably now more important to small businesses than ever, and debt collection services are a great way to stay on top of this. Their teams will pursue your customers for payments, helping to maintain your business’s cashflow and freeing you up to continue running your venture.

We’ve researched the top debt collection services in the UK and found Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd to be the best overall, beating the competition with its speed and value for money. However, depending on your needs, other companies might be a better fit.

To discover them, read on, or you can use our free comparison tool to receive bespoke quotes from trusted providers – you can then compare these quotes to make the right decision for your business.

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Safe Collections


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Legal for Landlords

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Best for businesses with international clients

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Best for outsourcing all your debt recovery needs

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Best for landlords

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Compare Best Agencies

1. Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd  Best overall debt collection agency in the UK

dcbl logo
Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd
3.8 Trustpilot score
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

There aren’t many debt collection services that can claim to star in their very own TV show; Direct Collection Bailiffs Limited (DCBL) is the exception. In addition to giving viewers an insight into the inner workings of debt collection, the Channel 5 show Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away! serves a primer of what this company can do.

What we like about Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd

DCBL has over 20 years’ experience in the debt collection industry, winning several awards along the way. While its Trustpilot score could be better (3.8/5), it does boast over 2,000 reviews (much more than most of the companies we’ve evaluated), which is a testament to its efficiency.

Each debt recovery case needs to be approached differently, and that’s exactly what DCBL does – all for a fixed price, with no hidden costs (as we cover more in-depth in our DCBL review).

Experience has shown DCBL that a phone call will often only get you so far; person-to-person contact improves its success rate, and its staff aren’t afraid of this approach. If it’s quick results and a professional service you’re after, you’d be hard pushed to find a better service.

DCBL’s main service is debt recovery, but the company also offers services such as debtor tracing, letter driven debt recovery, high court enforcement, rent arrears recovery, and residential possession.

DCBL focuses on UK debt recovery, so if you need a debt recovered internationally, it may be a better choice to go with a company such as Access Credit Management, which offers international services.

Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd pricing

Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd’s prices are custom and only available upon quoting. That said, we can help you find out exactly how much your business would pay for their services by using our free comparison tool to get no-obligation quotes tailored to your needs.

2. Safe Collections Best for a personalised approach

safe collections logo
Safe Collections
5 Trustpilot score
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Safe Collections has nearly 40 years of experience in this field and, with over 135,000 successful collections, has an enviable track record. Boasting a perfect 5/5 score on Trustpilot, it's the highest-rated debt collection company we came across during our research process.

What we like about Safe Collections

Safe Collections is one of the longest established debt collection agencies in the UK, providing debt collection services since 1984. Founded by the parents of current managing director Adam Rowe, they have an industry reputation for their personalised, honest, and straightforward approach.

Adam Rowe is often praised for his personalised touch, with several customer reviews praising him directly for being an experienced port of call, explaining in detail what to expect of the company, and giving solid debt collection advice overall. Advice he’s been known to give includes steps you can take to ease your debt collection, and how to avoid debt collection scams.

On Trustpilot, Safe Collections has an excellent score of 5/5 from 292 reviews, which is a stellar score in any industry.
Safe Collection operates both UK and international debt collection on a “no commission, no collection” guarantee. In addition to tracking down elusive debtors and enforcing court orders, Safe Collections can help you improve your cash flow with its outsourced credit control solution. It also offers consultancy services, helping you to run your credit control more efficiently.

However, Safe Collection doesn’t offer sales ledger recovery as a service. If you need this type of service, we’d recommend looking at an agency like Hilton-Baird, which does offer this.

Safe Collections pricing

Safe Collections works on commission per every collection, and therefore does not charge advanced or fixed fees. The commission itself is bespoke but, crucially, it’s only charged if the collection is successful.

3. DLC  Best for large, corporate companies

Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

DLC is one of the largest privately-owned debt collection services in the UK. It offers a range of collection services including debt purchase, outsourced collections, litigation, as well as tracing.

What we like about DLC

DLC is part of a wider credit management business called Cabot Credit Management – a European market leader in credit management services – which was founded as Cabot Financial in 1998. DLC joined in 2015.

While DLC doesn’t have any presence on Trustpilot, its parent company does, scoring an impressive 4.4/5. The most common theme in these reviews is the high quality customer experience the company offers, with customers praising the interactions they’ve had with individual staff members.

DLC focuses solely on servicing large corporate clients, specialising in credit control management and receivables management. It works with each individual client to ensure that the best options for their needs are met. Other services offered include a fully hosted collections system capability, covering early arrears, post-default, and litigation.

The company has received accreditation from the UK’s Credit Services Association, as well as a number of respected credit and trading standards organisations. It aims to help clients recover debts successfully, and to ensure fairness for debtors.

If you run a small business, however, DLC may not be the most suitable debt collector for you, as it focuses on blue chip companies. For a debt collector that specifically works with small businesses, take a look at the next option on our list, Darcey Quigley & Co.

DLC pricing

DLC’s pricing is bespoke, with costs depending on the services you require.

4. Darcey Quigley & Co Best for small businesses and individuals

darcey quigley logo
Darcey Quigley & Co
4.8 Trustpilot score
Pricing From 3%
Quick overview

Founded in 2007, Darcey Quigley & Co is a Glasgow-based debt collection company with an impressive customer satisfaction record, which is currently rated 4.8/5 on Trustpilot. It also has a 93% success rate, with over £250 million collected on behalf of its customers.

What we like about Darcey Quigley & Co

Darcey Quigley & Co has over 10 years of experience in debt collection, specialising in offering a personalised and dedicated approach to its debt collection. The company assigns each debt collection or credit management case to a dedicated consultant, who handles it and will report to you. This approach is sure to give small business owners and individuals extra peace of mind.

On Trustpilot, the Glasgow-based collection agency currently scores an impressive 4.8/5 from 278 reviews. The common consensus from each review is that the service is fast and efficient, with a positive customer experience overall.

Darcey Quigley & Co prides itself on a quick, efficient service, and claims that each debt collection case will be actioned within one hour, with a total turnaround time of 48 hours. It offers international debt collection services as well as those within the UK. In addition to debt collection, the company also provides credit control management and sales ledger recovery solutions.

As we’ve seen, Scotland-based Darcey Quigley & Co is best for smaller businesses, so if you need an England-based debt collection service with tools to help bigger businesses recover debts, take a look at DLC or Direct Collection Bailiffs Ltd.

Darcey Quigley & Co pricing

Darcey Quigley & Co’s fees start from 3% for its debt collection services, while the precise percentage you’ll pay will be disclosed in your quotation. However, its fees will only be applicable if the collection is successful.

▶ Read more: our guide to handling late payments and unpaid debt gives comprehensive advice on how to tackle unpaid invoices and debt.

5. Access Credit Management Best for businesses with international clients

Access Credit Management logo
Access Credit Management
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Access Credit Management has accreditation from the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, and is also fully licensed under both the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Data Protection Act 2018.

What we like about Access Credit Management

Access Credit Management has been in business for over 10 years, and is known for its “no win, no fee” policy, meaning if they don’t collect, you don’t pay.

Access Credit Management specialises in dealing with both UK and international debt, and serves a wide range of business sizes, making it a good option for dealing with overseas clients. The company’s core services include debt recovery, outsourced credit collection, and insolvency options.

While Access Credit Management is an established debt collection service, it doesn’t have a strong presence on user review sites and there’s a lack of customer reviews to compare out there, so if you’d prefer to be sure of customer sentiment, we’d recommend Safe Collections, which has a score of 5/5 on Trustpilot.

Access Credit Management pricing

Operating on a contingency basis, you won’t need to pay anything to use this debt collection service. If the debt is recovered, a percentage will be taken by Access Credit Management.

6. Hilton-Baird  Best for outsourcing all your debt recovery needs

hilton baird logo
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Hilton-Baird is a professional and award-winning service provider that can help businesses with everything from singular collection to managing entire debt recovery activities.

What we like about Hilton-Baird

Hilton-Baird was established in 2001, meaning it’s one of the longest operating debt collection services on our list. It has a positive reputation in the industry, having won Third Party Debt Collection team of the year at the CICM British Credit Awards in 2018 and 2019. Hilton-Baird favours mediation first over court proceedings, but is on hand to support you if this happens.

Like Access Credit Management, Hilton-Baird doesn’t have a strong online review presence as of our latest round of research. Its score of 4.5/5 on Google Reviews comes from just 16 reviews written about the company so far.

Hilton-Baird’s services include debt recovery, receivables management, debt purchase, and credit control services. It also caters to multiple industries across the UK, such as the financial and retail sectors.

A reliable collection agency that can deliver effective results, Hilton-Baird is well-suited to business owners who are looking to free themselves up completely from the ins and outs of debt management.

But again, if you require international debt collection, Hilton-Baird isn’t the best option. For international debt collection, look at an agency like Access Credit Management.

Hilton-Baird pricing

Hilton-Baird doesn’t provide any general pricing information, so you’ll need to contact the agency to receive a quote.

7. Legal for Landlords Best for landlords

Legal for Landlords
4.8 Trustpilot score
Pricing From £119
Quick overview

Established by landlords, Legal for Landlords knows and understands the pain points of being a landlord and offers an affordable, fairly straightforward service to help you deal with any issues. It offers you one point of contact even if you have multiple problems to discuss and solve to ensure you have someone to speak to who understands your situation and can offer you customised assistance.

What we like about Legal for Landlords

Legal for Landlords has been in operation for a few years, and offers free advice to landlords starting out on their debt collection process. Previous customers have reported that Legal for Landlords offers efficient and great service that makes the process easier, which earned the company a 4.8/5 score on Trustpilot, with over 3,800 reviews.

Legal for Landlord’s debt recovery services include debtor tracing, pre-court action letters, and small claims representation. The debtor tracing, which can take between seven and 14 days, costs £79 + VAT, with an employment check also available for a bespoke fee.

For small court representation, possible for debts up to £10,000, the company charges £519 + VAT plus court fees, which will depend on the amount you’re claiming. If you win, you’re able to enforce this payment for up to six years.

Legal for Landlords also offers two enforcement services, for cases where you’ve already won a legal case against the debtor. The Attachment of Earnings Order (AOE), which instructs the debtor’s employer to deduct money from their wages to pay you back, costs £499 + VAT. Alternatively, a Writ allows the seizure of the debtor’s assets to pay their debt, and starts at £499 + VAT.

Legal for Landlords, as the name suggests, is a collection agency for rental agents and landlords. If you require a more general debt collection service, we’d recommend our top choice DCBL.

Legal for Landlords pricing

Legal for Landlords pricing will depend on which of the services you’ll require it to perform. These services include (all prices are exclusive of VAT):

  • Residential debtor tracing: £79 plus VAT
  • Attachment of Earnings Order: £499 plus VAT
  • Writ: From £499 plus VAT
  • Small claims representation: £519 plus VAT

What should I look for in a debt collection agency?

Looking for the right debt collection agency for your business needs can seem like a challenge at first, especially if you haven’t engaged with one before. Therefore, we’ve listed some essential attributes you should consider when shopping around for the best debt collection service for your business.


Debt collection causes conflict and stress, so it’s essential that the debt collection agency you choose is professional in its manner when chasing up debtors. While you want your issue solved and the debt collected, it’s important this is done properly and not in a way that tarnishes your reputation. Read up on previous customer testimonials and reviews before making a decision.

Communication skills

Good communication is essential in the debt collection process. You’ve already experienced a frustrating lack of communication chasing debts on your own, so the last thing you want is to experience a lack of information from your debt collection agency. Many companies claim quick turnaround times and a personalised approach, but the best barometer of this is to look into the experiences of previous customers, and enquire with potential agencies about what their preferred methods of communication are, how often they provide updates, and the ways in which you will be able to contact them.


The main reason you may engage with a debt collection agency is their ability to stay persistent in the pursuit of a claim, putting the time and energy in that you don’t have capacity for. When choosing a debt collection agency, make sure they have a track record of exhausting every channel possible, in a legal and professional way. Asking for potential agencies’ rate of success in a percentage is a good way to gauge this, as is questioning how many steps they’ll take before giving a debt up as lost.

Ethical conduct

Debt collection can be messy and unfortunately cases occur where debt collectors can overstep the mark and engage in overly aggressive and sometimes illegal methods (more on those in the section below) to reclaim a debt, which can damage the reputation of the business they’re acting on behalf of. Ask potential debt collection agencies to explain the methods they use to pursue claims, and if something doesn’t sound right, take it away and research whether it’s ethical.

What are the legal regulations that govern debt collection practices?

In the UK, debt collection practices are governed by several laws and regulatory bodies. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates companies that offer financial services to consumers, and protects consumers from unscrupulous debt collectors.

The Fair Trading Act 1973 and The Consumer Credit Act 1974 also lay out legal regulations around debt collection, covering communication, harassment, and unfair business practices. There are also trade associations like the Credit Services Association (CSA) that set out ethical guidelines that trade associations should follow.

Debt collectors need to follow the guidelines set out for them in these legislations. For example, they can’t contact debtors at unreasonable hours, or show up to their place of residence or employment to demand payment. Also, if a debtor refuses to pay, debt collectors can’t resort to intimidation or harassment to reclaim the debt.

Next steps

If you’re a UK business owner and finding it difficult to recover unpaid debt, we highly recommend talking to a debt collection agency. According to the aforementioned survey conducted by Nerdwallet, the number of unpaid invoices has increased over the 2022/23 financial year; this means that as the UK continues to skirt on the edge of an economic recession, the issue of unpaid debt is becoming increasingly unmanageable for SME’s that don’t have the right support. 

To find a debt collection agency that is the best fit for your requirements, use our free comparison tool. We’ll need to know the amount of debt you’re chasing, where your debtors are based, and if they’re businesses or individuals. The agencies we match you with will be in touch with obligation-free quotes and advice that is tailored to your business’s unique circumstances and needs.

It is worth noting that writing off unpaid debt doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of doing business. Leave it to the professionals, and recoup what you’re owed.

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Best UK Debt Collection Agencies FAQs

Is it worth using a debt collection agency?
Chasing a customer for an unpaid invoice can take time and take you away from focusing on other important areas of your business. It’s also stressful to chase a customer for money, with inevitable tension rising from this situation. 

Hiring a debt collection agency eliminates all of this, allowing you to focus on the areas that really matter to your business. While it may seem like an extreme step to take if you’ve never used one before, a professional debt collection agency will ensure your overdue payment is collected. 

Also, by using a third-party, you have a higher chance of keeping the relationship with your customer, should you wish that.  

How do I choose a debt collection agency?
  1. Find out how the agency tracks debtors and collects
  2. Check reviews of the agency online
  3. Find out how they’ll charge you (some agencies operate on a no win no fee agreement or on commission)
  4. Check to see if any complaints have been brought against the agency
What is the success rate of debt collectors?
The success rate of debt collectors in the UK is between 84% and 95%, depending on the provider. This is considerably higher than in other countries, such as the US, where the debt collection success rate hovers between 20% and 30%.
What is the commission rate for debt collection agencies?
The commission rate for debt collection agencies in the UK varies from 5% to 35%. The rate you’ll end up paying will be calculated and provided to you in a quotation. This amount is influenced by factors that include the debt amount and time overdue.
Do debt collection agencies give up?
Debt collection agencies are unlikely to give up chasing payments. This is because a lot of them operate on a “no collection, no fee” policy, which means their own income will depend on their success rate.
Written by:
Eamonn is an experienced B2B writer and content manager, having managed and grown several B2B business blogs in the fitness and hospitality space.
Reviewed by:
Julia Watts author headshot photo
Specialising in business software, Julia writes jargon-busting guides about VoIP, fleet management, dash cams, fuel cards, and more. Having spent almost a decade writing for entrepreneurs and reviewing business solutions, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.