Dignity in debt – breaking free from financial difficulties

Ethical collection practices are crucial not only in facilitating individuals' reintegration into the financial system but also in contributing to the overall health of the economy.

Last week marked United Nations Day 2023, the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In light of this, Intrum is proud to champion the theme for the event – Equality, Freedom and Justice for all.

Intrum has been a signatory to the UN Global Compact since 2016, working to integrate the compact’s ten sustainability principles into our business. In today’s economic environment, we believe our ethical principles are more important than ever, with customers severely affected by the aftermath of the global pandemic, war in Europe and the cost of living crisis.

Energy, fuel and food prices have risen considerably, all fundamental needs for people. For someone in a vulnerable financial situation, the way a credit management company interacts with them can make a big difference.

Making a difference

Financial inequality and debt problems prevent people from living their lives as they wish and fully participating in society. By working with people in debt in a sensitive way, we aim to help them find a sustainable solution and end their distress.
Intrum Global Sustainability Director Vanessa Söderberg

Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognises that economic rights are ‘indispensable’ for dignity – something Intrum feels is fundamental to the practice of ethical collections. Credit management professionals often hold the key to financial relief and rehabilitation. Treating people as individuals, listening to their circumstances and working hand in hand with them to find a way forward is essential.

Keeping money flowing in society is important for the survival of businesses and other organisations on which people depend for their work and livelihoods.

Aiming for the debt-free day

As reported in our Q3 2023 report, 5.2 million people became debt-free with Intrum in the past 12 twelve months. Many of these people were effectively excluded from the financial system. Intrum provides consumers with payment solutions and allows them to reintegrate into the economy. That’s good for individuals, communities and society at large.

We continually strive to treat our customers in an ethical and sympathetic manner at all touchpoints. Therefore, the customer journey is just as significant as the day they become debt-free with us. We actively conduct customer surveys to track customer satisfaction, and as of Q3 2023, our average 12-month score is 4.3/5.0.

“I felt human,” says one UK banking customer who spoke to Intrum in June this year. “Thank you for not being judgemental.”

“At the moment money is tough, but [you were] very polite and empathetic to my situation. A daunting phone call turned into a pleasing one,” said another.

Intrum’s values of Ethics, Empathy, Dedication and Solutions are also important to the people who work in the business. “The joy that you hear in somebody’s voice when they are free, that’s something that you remember,” says Intrum Customer Service Representative.

A lot of the time when you come off a call you know that you’ve helped that person, particularly if they’re going through a difficult time,” adds another Customer Service Representative.

Fit for the future: updating the sustainability strategy

Three years on from setting five key targets on sustainability for 2020-2023, Intrum is updating its sustainability strategy and will reveal the next stage of its approach in 2024. The pace of change in understanding of sustainability and the steps businesses can take to support these endeavours means regular review is important.

In the meantime, work continues against Intrum’s aims of ethical collections, creating a sound economy, reducing environmental impact, ensuring employee wellbeing and diversity & inclusion. These sustainability targets align with three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the United Nations Agenda 2030:

  • Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Goal 13 – Climate Action


In 2022, Intrum took new steps in many areas of the strategy, including:

  • Reporting to the Carbon Disclosure project and awarded with B (a-f), which evaluates companies’ climate efforts and actions to mitigate the effect of climate change
  • Expanding and adding categories to the scope-3 emissions recorded
  • Introducing a new Customer Satisfaction Survey – with 63,000 respondents and an average score of 4.2 (scale 1-5)
  • Conducting in-depth consumer research to track financial experience and concerns, bringing this to the attention of legislators, financial institutions and media.