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Debt collection is a branch of industry with tradition in Germany – the origins of the service go back to the year 1860. 

On 1 April 1860 the Szczecin broker S. Salomon founded the first credit agency in Germany: "Erkundigungsbüro zur Wahrung kaufmännischer Interessen für Stettin und die Provinz Pommern".

After the Franco-German war of 1870/71, the economy boomed. Further credit agencies were set up to cover the resulting need for credit. 

The growing economy leads to payment delays and defaults. Towards the end of the 19th century, the first collection service providers specializing in the collection of overdue receivables enter the market. 

In the 1920s, debt collection companies increasingly specialised in the collection of sued, legally enforceable claims.

The economic upswing after the Second World War leads to a further revival of the debt collection industry. In 1956, the "Bundesverband Deutscher Inkasso-Unternehmen und Auskunfteien e.V." (German Association of Debt Collectors and Credit Agencies) was founded to represent their interests effectively vis-à-vis politicians and the public - the advent of the BDIU. 

In 1958, the activities of collection agencies were regulated by law within the framework of the Legal Advice Abuse Act. 

When West Germany slides into recession for the first time in the 1960s, debt collection became even more important. Customers' payment behaviour deteriorated. The commercial dunning procedure was increasingly unsuccessful. Creditors had to enforce their claims in court, which resulted in high costs for them. Pre-court debt collection services were therefore a favourable alternative.

In 1966, this led to the association concentrating on the interests of the debt collection industry and renaming it "Bundesverband Deutscher Inkasso-Unternehmen e.V." (German Association of Debt Collection Companies). The range of services provided by debt collection companies shifts mainly from the collection of legally enforceable claims to the collection of claims which have already been dunned but are not yet legally enforceable. Despite the renaming, the BDIU continues to keep an eye on the interests of the credit agencies.

In 1980, the legal situation for debt collection companies changed: From now on, debt collection agencies may only be granted permission for extrajudicial collection. This changed in 2008 with the introduction of the Legal Services Act. Since then, debt collection companies have also been allowed to carry out judicial dunning procedures.

In 2013, the "Act against Dubious Business Practices" comes into force. The purpose is to protect consumers. As a result, the Legal Services Act, which regulates the work of debt collection agencies, was amended. What is new is that the costs for extrajudicial debt collection services can be reimbursed up to the amount of the remuneration a lawyer is entitled to according to the provisions of the Lawyers' Fees Act. In addition, debt collection service providers will now have to fulfil clearly defined reporting and information obligations. 

This is a step forward for the debt collection industry: debt collection companies can now directly refer to a law when it comes to the reimbursement of pre-litigation debt collection costs to consumers. This ensures greater transparency for collection companies, creditors and consumers.

Today, debt collection service providers often not only offer the collection of non-performing receivables, but also see themselves as partners of commercial enterprises. They provide assistance to prevent payment defaults. Preventive measures range from the provision of information and scoring procedures to individual advice.