In Switzerland, a debt collection office (German: Betreibungsamt, French: Office des poursuites) records information relevant to consumer credit in a debt collection register. Debt collection offices are public services and are run on a municipal level, with around 700 individual offices operating countrywide. Reports from debt collection offices are widely requested by lenders in Switzerland, as well as by landlords when you apply to rent a home.
Any adult can file a report to a debt collection office. When this happens, the debt collection office sends a formal debt repayment request to the alleged debtor. The debtor can contest the accusation within 10 days of receiving the debt repayment request and if they do, the person or entity which filed the report will have to provide proof that the debtor has in fact defaulted on their debt. If they can provide adequate proof that you owe them money and that you have failed to pay it, the debt default will be recorded in the municipal register.
Incidents recorded in a debt collection register appear on debt collection office reports for 5 years from the time they are recorded. The entry can only be removed if the person who made the entry specifically requests to have it removed or, with the help of a court of law, if you can provide adequate proof that you have paid all the money owed including interest charges. Because debt collection offices operate independently on a municipal level, the information recorded in one municipality does not appear in the same person’s credit history in the debt collection register of a different municipality. However, services are available which allow eligible entities to access reports from debt collection offices around the country.
Although a person can access the data recorded in debt collection registers at any time via a report (typically in exchange for a 30-franc fee), third parties can only access another person’s debt records if they can prove that they have a vested interest in accessing that information. A prospective lender or a legal heir, for example, will normally be able to access your report.
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