01793 616677
Society of Professional
Mortgage Arrears
Counsellors

The voice for the profession of
        Mortgage Arrears Counselling

CODE OF CONDUCT

  1. Presentation

    Counsellors are expected to dress in a suitable business like fashion and should always behave in a professional manner.

  2. Identification

    Counsellors are expected to always carry their photo identification card which should be readily available and shown to the borrower at the point of initial contact.

  3. Confidentiality

    Counsellors must maintain absolute confidentiality and discretion at all times. It is essential that all information is held in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the following guidelines must be followed:-

    1. Enquiries of neighbours and local businesses must be handled with the utmost discretion and under no circumstances should the purpose of the enquiries be revealed to any third party in a fashion which would suggest that the person is being pursued for arrears. It is acceptable only in the case of abandoned and tenanted properties, to reveal who is being represented and that they were not aware the property had been abandoned or let.
    2. Any information obtained from a borrower must not under any circumstances be discussed with any third party and care must be shown when talking to other occupiers if they are not listed as being party to the mortgage.
    3. Any information obtained or supplied must at all times be treated as strictly confidential and must not be disclosed to or discussed with any third party.
  4. Preparation

    It is essential to prepare for each counselling prior to making any attempt to contact the borrower by being familiar with the case details and the specific criteria relating to the particular case.

  5. Borrower Contact

    1. The Approach
      1. Should always be friendly, helpful and non-threatening.
      2. Empathy with the borrower will be shown at all times.
      3. The borrower must never be visited at their place of employment without their expressed prior agreement.
    2. Telephone Contact

      1. When telephone contact is necessary call boxes should be avoided unless there is no alternative.
      2. Telephone contact at work is permissible subject to the following:-
        • It must be clearly established at the start of the conversation that you are speaking to the right person.
        • They must agree to the conversation being continued and be given the opportunity to say that it is not convenient.
        • Should any message be left with a third party at the place of employment, then discretion is necessary and you should leave your name.
    3. Meetings

      Under all normal circumstances meetings should take place in the borrower's home, which would usually be the mortgaged property. Under exceptional circumstances meetings may be held at other venues, such as the borrower's place of employment or a public meeting place.

      If the borrower asks for any meeting to be brought to an end, then you will leave, breaking contact with the borrower in a businesslike fashion without resorting to any display of emotion, respecting the borrowerr's right to terminate the meeting.

    4. Disputes

      Where the borrower is in dispute with a lender or any intermediary, it is vital that you do not become involved losing sight of the purpose of the visit, i.e. to resolve their arrears problems

  6. Forms

    The following guidelines must be followed with regard to completion of forms:

    1. Forms must be completed in black ball point pen. Under no circumstances should pencil be used and felt tip must be avoided as this makes it almost impossible to produce professional photocopies due to the ink penetration.
    2. Alterations should be neatly crossed out with the revision being written in clearly. The use of 'Tippex' type correctors is not permissible and under all normal circumstances the borrower should be asked to initial the alterations.
    3. All forms should be completed as fully as possible and those forms where the borrower releases information must be completed in the presence of the borrower.
    4. The Income and Expenditure Report must always be signed by yourself and all borrowers. If all borrowers are not present or if a borrower refuses to sign the form, then the form must be endorsed giving the reasons.
  7. Unsocial Hours

    Initial contact with the borrower should always be made during what can be referred to as "social hours" and these are viewed to be Monday to Friday inclusive from 8.00am through to 9.00pm and Saturday from 8.00am to 3.00pm. Contact outside these hours should only be made if this is a follow up call and the borrower is expecting to be contacted.

    Under exceptional circumstances where it has been established from enquires that the borrower does not attend the property during the above social hours, then contact can be made outside this period subject to your report being endorsed to this effect.

  8. Payments

    It is important to collect payments subject to the criteria laid down by the lender but the following guidelines must also be noted and followed explicitly:

    1. Under all normal circumstances payments should be by cheque, made payable to the lender endorsed with the borrowers name and account number as may be specified on any case instruction. Normally the cheque should be drawn on the borrower's own bank account and should a cheque drawn by a third party be offered, then an explanation of the relationship must be shown on your case report.
    2. Cash should only ever be accepted in exceptional circumstances and where you believe there is no other alternative.
  9. Money Laundering

    Money Laundering is exchanging criminally obtained money or other assets for "clean money" or other assets with no obvious link to their criminal origins. It also covers money, however come by, which is used to fund terrorism. When cash or third party funds are offered in settlement of arrears, money laundering implications must be considered. If unexpectedly large sums of cash are offered, the debtor should be asked how this has been generated and the details fully covered in the report. If cheques are offered from third party sources, details should be obtained of the name, address and relationship of the provider, and whether this is regarded as a loan or gift. Full details should be provided in the report, highlighting any unusual circumstances.

  10. Incident Reporting

    In the event of any incident resulting in a breach or potential breach of confidentiality, this must be immediately reported to the Police and the Corporate Member. An Incident Report Form must be fully completed and returned as soon as possible.

Borrowers deserve respect, do not do anything to them that you would not wish someone to do to you in the same circumstances.

Failure to observe this Code of Conduct could result in disciplinary action.