On 23 June 2017, a reform to the Federal Criminal Code was enacted to classify the criminal offense of “illegal extrajudicial debt collection” established in article 284 Bis.
This offense consists of using violence or intimidation to demand the payment of a debt, either personally or through any other means. As this crime is deemed a federal offense, the debts included are those arising from activities regulated by federal laws, such as the Law of Credit Institutions, the General Law of Negotiable Instruments and Credit Transactions, the General Law on Ancillary Credit Organizations and Activities.
The classification of this criminal offense intends to protect the fundamental human rights of dignity, privacy, peace, personal security, and legal certainty, without affecting the process of legal debt recovery by those engaged in granting credits and financing. In summary, this reform intends to assure that while enforcing the legal right of debt collection the procedural guarantees and human rights of the debtors are not violated.
Upon the analysis of this criminal offense we may see that it does not oppose to the creditors’ right to “inform of the potential and judicially valid consequences that may arise from not paying a debt, as well as their capacity and right to initiate legal action against a debtor, guarantee, joint obligor or any third party related thereto whenever it is permitted by law.”
Therefore, in order to avoid this illegal action it is advisable to follow these guidelines any time an extrajudicial debt collection is conducted:
- Do not use violence
- Do not intimidate the debtor
- Do not use false documentation or stamping
- The creditor or the designated debt collector shall not usurp public positions or professions.
- That the creditor hire professional people with good reputation in order to collect the debt.
- That the creditor enters an agreement with whomever they have to collect the debt from, which will show the limits of their conduct and behavior.
It is important to point out that this crime is valid in various state legislations, such as in the laws of Baja California, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz and others.