Campaigners are calling for action to stop bailiffs causing people increased stress, anxiety and financial hardship.
Citizens Advice and StepChange say a third of the 2.2 million people contacted by a bailiff in the last two years have experienced them 'pushing the limits of the law' by, for example, forcing entry into a home or removing goods needed for work.
They say this has resulted in increased stress and anxiety for seven out of 10 of those involved, while for half have it has led to increased debt because of bailiffs' fees.
Citizens Advice says bailiffs often refuse to accept reasonable offers of payment when the debt is unable to be paid in full.
It helped people with nearly 17,000 issues associated with a refusal to accept payment offers last year.
Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: 'Too often bailiffs, and the firms they work for, are a law unto themselves.
'This is inflicting widespread harm on people and their families and it has to stop.'
A National Audit Office (NAO) study earlier this year found councils are pursuing debt repayments ‘too quickly and too aggressively'.