How to check whether a debt collection letter is correct

Your business receives a collection letter for a bill that is still outstanding. How do you check if the payment reminder is correct and what can you do if it is not? Follow the steps below and avoid extra costs.

Do you receive a payment reminder, or reminder, from a supplier or collection company? Then act quickly. In five steps, check whether the collection letter is correct.

1. Check the sender

First, check if you recognise the business and the order. Do you not recognise them? Then contact the collection company and ask for proof of the invoice. If it remains unclear what the invoice is for, contact the supplier.

Perhaps the supplier made a mistake and admits it, or you received a fake invoice. If you accidentally ordered something or were misled, contact the sender of the letter and try to get the reminder revoked. If you cannot work it out, seek legal help.

2. Check your bank statement

If the business and the order look familiar to you, check your bank statements. You may have already paid the bill. If so, contact the supplier. If they confirm that you have paid, you can ask the collection company to withdraw the reminder.

Once you have paid, also check that you have transferred the money to the correct account number. Is the account number wrong? Then discuss with your bank how to get that money back. You still have to pay the bill. Before you pay, you can check whether the payment term has already expired (step 3).

Have you already paid the bill, but too late (step 3)? Then contact the collection company, send proof of payment and pay only the collection fees (step 4).

3. Check payment terms

If you have not paid the bill yet, check whether a payment term has been agreed. If not, a 30-day term applies to business invoices.

In a price quotation or general terms and conditions, a supplier can agree a different payment period, up to a maximum of 60 days. For business customers, the courts consider a minimum period of 5 to 7 days acceptable. The payment term starts on the date you receive the order. If you receive the invoice later, the term starts on that date.

Is the payment period not over and you have yet to transfer the money? Then pay the supplier as soon as possible and ask for the withdrawal of the collection invoice.

If the payment deadline has passed, pay the demand letter within the time limit stated in the collection letter (step 4). By law, it must be a reasonable period. This is often 14 days.

4. Check collection costs

Are the collection costs justified? Then check using (in Dutch) to see if the amount is correct. The maximum collection costs are fixed by law. A collection company may charge a maximum of 15 per cent for accounts up to 2,500 euros, for example. A minimum of 40 euros applies.

If the amount of the collection charges is incorrect, object in writing (in Dutch). Do pay the amount of the original bill on time. Also transfer collection costs, but only the amount you think is the maximum allowed by law.

5. Pay on time

Cannot pay on time? Then ask the debt collecting agency for a payment arrangement (in Dutch). A supplier or debt collecting agency is not obliged to cooperate. Perhaps you can borrow some money quickly.

If you do not pay or do not pay on time, the collection company may also charge interest costs. If you still do not pay, the supplier may call in a bailiff (in Dutch). This may start legal proceedings with high costs that you have to pay.

Collection companies must register

On 1 April 2024, the Debt collection services quality Act (Wki) came into effect. This law should ensure that debt collection service providers meet minimum quality requirements. Now businesses must register with a debt collection register (in Dutch) that anyone can view.

Debt collecting agencies that send invoices to private individuals or personal enterprises (for example eenmanszaak, vof, or maatschap) must register by 1 April 2025 at the latest. In addition to the register, there are trust marks such as those of the Nederlandse Vereniging van gecertificeerde Incasso- ondernemingen (Dutch Association of Certified Debt Collectors NVI, in Dutch) and Sociaal Verantwoord Incasseren (Socially Responsible Debt Collection SVI, in Dutch).