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Debt collection – prerequisites, rights and obligations

"Debt collection" is the outsourced process of collecting outstanding debts on behalf of the creditor. But what rights apply here? What is allowed and what is not?

Editorial Team Germany | Oct 4, 2022 5 min
Which rights do you have in a debt collection case?

Prerequisites in debt collection

In Germany, every debt collection agency must be registered. You can check the registration free of charge at any time:

The legal foundations for debt collection services are regulated, among other things, in the Legal Services Act. Compliance is ensured by the respective supervisory authority.

Our debt collection staff

Our debt collection staff are appropriately trained and educated to become experts in their field of activity.

Prerequisites for employing a collection agency

What rights must be observed when handing over files to a debt collection agency? The prerequisite is that a consumer is in default of payment. Only then can a creditor hand over the outstanding debt to a debt collection agency for recovery. The debt collection agency then contacts the debtor to find a solution for settling the outstanding amount as quickly as possible. As soon as the claim has been settled, the money collected is forwarded to the creditor. The exact details are set out in a debt collection contract.

Rights and obligations regarding delay damages

Damages caused by delay are regulated in §§ 280, 286 of the German Civil Code (BGB). According to these paragraphs, the creditor must be compensated for the damage caused by the delay in payment. This means that all financial disadvantages incurred by the creditor due to the late payment must be compensated by the debtor. This includes all extrajudicial and judicial costs incurred in the course of the debt collection proceedings.

Rights and duties in debt collection proceedings

A reputable debt collection agency acts in accordance with the law before, during and also after processing a debt collection case. To ensure that "black sheep" don't have a chance, there are plenty of institutions that keep an eye on compliance with the guidelines.

Debt collection rights are laid down e. g. in the German Legal Services Act.

Collection topics in the German Legal Services Act (RDG)

  • § 12 RDG
    Registration requirements
  • § 13a RDG
    Disclosure and information requirements for more transparency
  • § 13e RDG
    Reimbursability of collection costs
  • § 18 RDG
    Handling personal data


Conclusion for the consumer

Our tip:

Have you received a debt collection letter? If so, the collection agency is your direct contact from this point on - for the entire communication and the money transfer.

Is there a deadline in the letter? You should use this period to check whether the claim against you is justified. If you have any questions, it is best to contact the debt collection agency directly. They will clarify your concerns with the creditor.

Is the demand for payment justified? Then pay the amount, if possible, within the specified deadline or send a payment proposal that you are able to meet in any case. The collection process is only completed when you have settled the entire claim.


Please understand that for reasons of readability we only use the grammatically masculine form when referring to persons. This always refers to people of any gender identity.