The Enforcement Authority is the only organization in Sweden empowered to withdraw money from bank accounts of debtors and, if necessary, visit the homes and companies of debtors to seize (distrain) property. The authority also has the right to withhold money directly from a debtor’s income. It can collect debts for individuals and businesses as well for the government.
A person or organization whose debtor refuses to pay an outstanding debt can submit a claim to the Authority. This is forwarded to the debtor who must respond within 10 days. If there is no response and it there is proof that the claim has reached the recipient, the Authority can take possession of the debtor’s money or property. If the debtor disputes a debt claim within 10 days, a court must decide whether the debt claim is correct. This is a fairly short time, and creditors are more impatient than in the past. Someone on a four-week vacation trip can discover upon their return, if they have forgotten to pay a bill, that the Enforcement Authority has withdrawn money from their bank account. There are special procedures for taxes because they must be paid by the due date even if the debtor considers them to be incorrect. The Authority will distrain the money, and if the tax claim is subsequently determined to be incorrect, the money will be refunded. The Authority allows a debtor to keep those necessities required to support themselves and any dependents. A debtor’s home can be sold by the Authority.
All debtors are recorded in the Authority’s public register and remain there until three years after the debt has been paid. This makes it extremely difficult for the debtor to get any credit in that period. In many cases it will also, during this period, prevent the debtor from doing things that require economic creditworthiness, such as renting an apartment or subscribing to services.
Debt collecting companies
In countries where there is no public debt collection authority and where distraint authorities only become active when they receive a court order, anyone trying to collect money owed to them needs to perform the legal process themselves or use a private debt collection agency. Use of the services of the Swedish Enforcement Authority is considered complicated, so most companies use private debt collection agencies for the process in Sweden too.