FORMER criminals and people with a murky past can run debt collection agencies because there is no regulation of the sector.
Despite the Law Reform Commission recommending in December 2010 that collectors be regulated because of the "acute pote-ntial for consumer harm", nothing has been done.
There have been concerns that a number of former criminals are involved in debt collection agencies, with accusations that some use strong-arm tactics.
But most agencies are reputable firms of solicitors which use legal action to recoup money owed.
They are forbidden from subjecting the debtor to "alarm, distress or humiliation" by frequently calling and from claiming that the debtor can be subject to criminal proceedings for non-payment.
Reputable firms send demand letters and attempt to make contact with debtors before suing for non-payment through the courts.