How to Protect Yourself from TV Licence Debt Collection

Editorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

How to Protect Yourself from TV Licence Debt Collection

To watch anything approximately close to live television in the UK, you have to buy a TV licence. If you don't pay what you owe for a licence, you can expect to hear from .

One might take TV licences for granted as they seem like a minor luxury until you’re short of money to spare and your TV is nothing but a lifeless box. With a TV licence, you can:

  • Watch or record live TV on any channel
  • Watch or stream programs live on online TV service. This is defined as any streaming service, website, or app that lets you watch TV shows over the internet.
  • Download or watch any BBC programs on BBC iPlayer on any device

Most people never plan on missing payments, but it's not an uncommon situation for someone to end up in. If you are caught up in between your next paycheck and debt collectors are knocking at your door, it’s time to reach out to DoNotPay.

How Much Does a TV Licence Cost?

There are two versions of you can buy.

Colour licence£159.00 a year
Black and white licence£53.50 per year

You can send your payments on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Payments can be made in cash, Direct Debit, debit/credit card or by post.

The government does carve out some concessions for the following demographics:

  1. People over the age of 75 who receive Pension Credit can get a free licence
  2. Blind or severely sight impaired people can apply to pay half of the licence fee
  3. People living in qualifying residential care and are disabled or over 60 and retired can pay a discounted fee
  4. Businesses that provide units of overnight accommodation, like hotels or mobile units. The cost will depend on the number of units or rooms where a licence is needed.

What Happens if You Don't Pay Your TV Licence Debt

The punishment for not paying your tv licence can become quite intense over time. If your licence is found to be invalid or expired, the following things can happen:

  • You'll receive a letter asking you to get in touch to start making payments or explain why you don't need a licence
  • An inquiry officer can visit your home to find out if you need a licence
  • If the inquiry officer finds that a licence is needed they will try to get evidence of this

TV licence debt collectors are not allowed to enter your home without your permission, but they can visit and ask you to repay the money you owe. If you still can't pay at this stage, then court action could be issued using evidence collected by an inquiry officer. The court can issue a fine worth up to £1,000 that will show up on your criminal record going forward. Your TV licence must still be paid in addition to the fine, and you're also on the hook for any court costs related to your case.

Sending someone to prison over tv licence debt is rare, but it is available as a last resort.

Your account could also go into debt collection, meaning that any missed payments will be added to the total amount you owe.

How Long Do You Have to Pay?

TV licences usually last for a year. If you miss a payment, you'll get some amount of grace period before your account is flagged by debt collectors. If you have several missed payments in a row, then you will be asked to get your money right with more force.

What to Do if Debt Collectors Contact You

If you are contacted by someone who claims to be a debt collector, the first thing you should do is identify the person and make sure it's not a scam. Until you can verify who they are, do not give them any of your personal information.

After that, here is what DoNotPay recommends for the next steps:

  1. Review the debt validation letter and verify the amount owed, the original creditor, what the debt was for, and the identity of the collector
  2. If you have any questions or don't think the debt belongs to you, file a debt verification request. If the statute of limitations on the debt is close to expiring, it may also be beneficial to simply ignore the collection and wait it out.
  3. Once you've verified the debt, you can:
  • Pay off the debt
  • Ask for the debt collector to stop contacting you. Once you make this request, they are legally required to stop contacting you, but they may escalate the case with a lawsuit
  • Specify how you want them to communicate with you, whether it's through your lawyer or asking them not to call you at work

Your Options if You Are Struggling to Pay

Having to deal with debt collectors and the possibility of going to court is a stressful reality, but the worst thing you can do in this scenario is ignore the problem and keep skipping payments. Of course, keeping up with bills isn't always possible, but there are a few options to explore if you need help clearing your debt.

Breathing Space

Licensees can apply for a "breathing space" period from a debt advice provider that gives them freedom from their debts for up to 60 days. If you are suffering from a mental health crisis, this period will last as long as your treatment plan and for 30 extra days after the treatment ends. Breathing Space only applies to arrears, not regular payments.

Turning to Non-Profit Organisations

These organisations offer free advice with maximum confidentiality. Here are the groups listed on the official TV Licensing website:

How DoNotPay Can Help You Deal With Debt Collectors

When money is involved, there is always a chance that someone oversteps their bounds to get what they want. On occasion, have been known to harass people and violate consumer rights.

If you're unsure if a debt collector is compliant with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidelines, DoNotPay can help.

Just follow these simple steps to get started:

  1. Search “debt collection” on DoNotPay.

  2. Answer a series of questions about the debt collectors, including when you were contacted and how you were contacted, so we can determine if they have violated any debt collection laws.

  3. Decide which course of action you want to take based on our guidance, such as filing a debt verification request, demanding for the collectors to stop contacting you, or reporting them to a professional trade association.

And that’s it! Once you choose the course of action you want to take, DoNotPay will handle the rest. We’ll deliver your request directly to the debt collectors via first-class mail, or file your complaint automatically with the relevant trade association or ombudsman.

Just a note that we are unable to send the mail to UK addresses but you can still use the drafted letter to reach out to the debt collector that you are dealing with.

DoNotPay Works With Other Collection Agencies

DoNotPay is not limited to guiding you in handling TV licence debt collectors. We understand how difficult it can be being caught in a financial crisis which is why we designed the app to help you deal with debt problems with other companies.

Here are some examples:

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

Initially created to help fight unjust parking tickets, DoNotPay has grown into a massive collection of services that anyone can access at a cost-effective price. You just might find the financial services below useful:

right now to get the necessary help that you need. This app could possibly change how you run your day-to-day tasks and your life in general.

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