You’re in debt but what can your creditors actually do?

posted by in Bailiffs, Client info, Collection Process, Debt, Debt Law

Last updated: 20th February 2015

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There can be lots of misconceptions about what creditors (your lenders) can and cannot do. We hear from clients that are scared stiff of bailiffs (enforcement agents) or being sent to prison when they’ve only missed one or two payments or just received a default notice or a CCJ (County Court Judgment) through the post.

A lot of action by creditors will be tactics to encourage you to make extra payments, so it’s useful to know what your rights are to help to put your mind at ease.

Knowing what creditors can and cannot do and understanding the debt collection process can help to remove a lot of worry and uncertainty around unsecured debts.

What can creditors do?

  1. They can chase you for the debt by phone or letters; see our article about what to do if creditors keep phoning you.
  2. They can send doorstep collectors; it’s really important to realise that these are not bailiffs and have no more power than someone ringing you. It’s unusual for a high street lender to use doorstep collectors as it’s cheaper and more effective for them to call you.
  3. They can continue to add interest and charges to your account in line with the original agreement.
  4. They can take money from connected accounts. For example if you have a credit card and a current account with the same bank they can dip into the current account and take what is owed on the credit card; they don’t need permission from you. This is called the right of offset.
  5. They can issue a default notice, usually sent after 3-6 missed payments. This is something your creditors are legally required to send once you’ve defaulted on the original agreement.
  6. They can pass the debt on to an internal or external debt collection agency. These don’t have any more legal powers than the creditor.
  7. They can apply for a County Court Judgment (CCJ). If you receive one of these you must fill in the paperwork and make an offer of repayment for the court to consider. The court will set a repayment and it’s important that you stick to this.
  8. Some collection agencies issue a statutory demand, a way of enforcing bankruptcy. However in most cases these are used as scare tactics and it’s very unusual for creditors to actually enforce these.

What can’t creditors do?

  1. They cannot harass you; you have a duty to keep your creditors informed of your situation but that doesn’t mean they can ring you every hour, day after day. Request that they only contact you in writing and make sure you open your mail. You can read more about debt collection guidelines on the Financial Conduct Authority website.
  2. They cannot break data protection laws, so they cannot speak to your family, friends, neighbours or an employer.
  3. They cannot stalk you on social media – see our blogpost 10 ways to stop debt collectors finding you on social media.
  4. They may threaten bailiffs but unless you have defaulted on a CCJ then what they actually mean is a doorstep collection agent. This is often used as a scare tactic and anyone who calls at your property has no more power than someone calling you on the phone. You don’t need to talk to them if you’d prefer to talk over the phone or by letter (unless they are from the courts or the debt is for Council Tax).
  5. If you do get County Court paperwork through the post and you make an offer to the courts that the judge accepts, the creditors have to abide by it as well.

What experiences do you have with creditors? Post a comment and let us know. And if you’re going through the mill with your creditors at the moment, get free debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity.

Pavan Gata-Aura is a qualified debt advisor with 6 years of experience. She enjoys spending time with her two children, fundraising for charities, has spent time volunteering in Africa and takes part in organised races.

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Tags Bailiffs Client info Collection Process Debt Debt Law
  • Ellen

    Hello
    As a single parent, who usually works, I had been receiving housing benefit. I have always informed the council of any change in my circumstances and been honest regarding earnings. I have always found my local council to be completly incompetant and inefficient.
    I was going through my paperwork today and found a letter from my housing benefit department stating that they had overpaid me a total of £277.20. They state on the letter that the over payment occured between 25 April 2005 – 19 October 2014. They would like me to start repaying this starting 6 jan 2016 (yes, I know I’ve inadvertently missed this date). However, I dont feel that I should have to pay them for 1) their incompetence and their error and 2) an overpayment going back 11 years!
    Can you advise where I stand legally please?
    Regards
    Ellen

    • moneyaware

      Hi Ellen,

      Thanks for your message and I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

      This is something we hear about quite often and councils can look to reclaim benefit overpayments even if they were from years ago. However as the consequences of not paying back benefit overpayments can be quite serious, I’d suggest this is something you deal with sooner rather than later.

      If you don’t agree with the amount they’re asking you to pay back, this is something you can appeal against. However as our expertise is in helping people deal with debts rather than dispute them, this isn’t something I’d be able to offer you further guidance on. I’d suggest you speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for more information about how you could appeal against it. You can find your local CAB here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

      If you’re worried that making repayments towards this debt could have a negative impact on your finances, you could get in touch with your local council to see if you can come to a more affordable agreement. This is something we’d be able to help you with.

      You could have a chat with one of our advisors about your financial circumstances in more detail and we can put together a budget which would be sustainable for you, which you could use when speaking to your council about repayments. We have over 20 years’ experience in putting together budgets for our clients, and creditors often trust that our budgets are an accurate reflection of our clients’ circumstances. We can help you do this over the phone or online through our Debt Remedy tool. You can find out more about getting in touch with us here: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      I hope this helps, but please let me know if you’ve got any further questions.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • Ian Hunter

    Hi
    I had a visit from a creditor when I was out and to cut a long story short they discussed my debt with my mother who is 91 today stating that I had a large bill to pay and leaving open card which should have been folded and sealed round the edges with only my name and “private and confidential information enclosed” visible but was left unsealed for anyone to read. I do not dispute my debt but I am not happy that they caused my mother distress by discussing my debt and is there any action I can take to stop them doing this again. I should add I live in Scotland.
    Regards
    Ian

    • moneyaware

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Creditors shouldn’t discuss your debt with anyone except you.

      If you’re unhappy with the way you’ve been treated, it’d be worth making a formal complaint with your creditor.
      If you’re unsure how to do this, there should be instructions on the creditor’s website.

      You can also find out more about making a complaint here:

      http://www.stepchange.org/Debtinformationandadvice/Whatyourcreditorscando/Makingacomplaint.aspx

      I hope this has helped,

      Jen

  • fran

    I have just received a second letter from a debt collection agency stating that i owe £1500 for a Thames Water account from my previous address of 5 years ago. It was my parents house in which me and my siblings lived in during university. I moved abroad before the house was sold (and all utilities accounts were closed), so my sister took responsibility of closing them. We thought this was all done, as we received final bills etc. So now I am really perplexed about this bill which is huge. I don’t think the account was opened in my name, but i obviously paid into it each month. I really don’t know what to do, as I feel really threatened by the idea of debt collectors. Would it in your opinion be possible to pay the money owed (if it is indeed correct) to Thames Water directly?

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  • wendi

    can debt collection agencies demand you send them medical evidence if you are unwell?? Mine has asked for this and I dont want to give it themas it si confidential.

    • moneyaware

      Hi there Wendi, thanks for posting.

      Debt collection agencies don’t have the right to demand this information from you, but they will sometimes ask you to send them information to help them better understand your personal circumstances. You’re not usually obliged to give them this information, but if you’re needing to take a payment break or reduce payments, it can help them to understand why.

      If you feel that you’re being treated unfairly, you can put a complaint in writing to the collection agency. If they don’t respond within 6-8 weeks, you can escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

      If you’re trying to negotiate a payment with a collection agency, you might find that you have an easier time if you show them a budget detailing your income and expenses. We can help you put a budget together and we can also look at any debt solutions that may be beneficial for you.

      Our online advice tool Debt Remedy can help you put together a budget in around 20 minutes: http://www.stepchange.org/debtremedy.aspx

      Alternatively, you can call our Helpline and talk to one of our advisors about your situation: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      Kind regards

      Rachel

      • wendi

        many thanks. ??

  • 1234

    if i am in debt £ 20 000 with credit cards can my house that i own be taken ?

    I mean can they make me sell my house or can they seize my house for payment ?

    • moneyaware

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your message. It’s a common misconception that if you owe money on credit cards, your creditor could make you sell your house to recover the money. However, credit cards are usually unsecured debts which mean they’re not secured on a property such as your house, and so generally your creditor couldn’t make you sell your house to pay for the debt.

      If your creditor takes court action against you and you ignore the court order, it is possible for the court to then issue what’s called a charging order on your property. However I’d like to emphasise that this is very much a last resort and if you seek advice on how to deal with your debt then there’s a good chance you could prevent it reaching this stage.

      I’d suggest you get in touch with us for free and impartial debt advice. We can have a chat with you in more depth about your financial situation and recommend the best way for you to deal with your debt. We’ve got over 20 years’ experience helping people in similar situations to yours, and the advice we offer is free and impartial. You can either give our Helpline a call to speak to an advisor in person, or you can use our Debt Remedy tool which guides you through the same process online. You can find details about our Helpline and Debt Remedy tool on our website: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • megcb

    Hello, I have a CCJ from 2014 that I had no idea about. I moved from that address a long time ago, only that I have applied for a car on finance and been declined, this encouraged me to check my credit report. The CCJ is for £2800 and it’s from a car crash, where they said I was not insured. Although I produced my documents at the police station, which included my insurance document. I have made phone calls in regards to the insurance issue, I don’t even remember who I was insured with at the time and it seems I am fighting a losing battle. I want to start making repayments because I am willing to do anything to get this CCJ off my credit file, but I have looked on the internet and it states if you don’t offer to start making repayments within 30 days of the CCJ being issued, you could be ordered to pay it back in full. Now I am scared to acknowledge the debt in fear of having to pay the full amount or being in serious trouble 🙁 I really don’t know what to do?

    • moneyaware

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your message. If you want to start making payments towards the CCJ, you can come to an arrangement to make affordable monthly payments rather than paying it in one go. One option would be to come to a repayment agreement with the person who made the claim against you. Alternatively you could go through the court to come to an affordable payment arrangement, using an N245 form: http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n245-eng.pdf There is a cost involved to submit the form, but if you receive a low income or are on benefits you can apply for the fee to be waived using this form: http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/ex160-eng-20160212.pdf

      When coming to a more affordable arrangement, either with the claimant directly or with the court, it’s important to make sure that the payments are sustainable. This is something we’d be able to help you with. We can take a look at your financial circumstances in more detail and help you put together a realistic and sustainable budget, which you can then use when reaching a payment agreement. You can do this using our online Debt Remedy tool, or you could give our Helpline a call to speak to an advisor. You can find details about how to get in touch with us here: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you’ve got any further questions.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • dean

    I have a legal aid debt I pay every month of 150 pounds never missed a payment but struggle can I reduce my payments with the threat of them taking money direct from my wages

  • Dawn

    Hi, can you help please. My ex husband had a building business with another guy. When we were on holiday, my husbands partner drew the money from the four jobs and went off, my husband wouldn’t leave the customers with half built things so he promised to finish the builds from our own money. I borrowed a large amount from my aunt and maxed my credit cards. My husband worked on finishing the properties for 5 months with no pay, (we lived on my wage). To cut long story short, they had a phone line that supplied an 0800 number. The bills were paid by direct debit from my personal bank account. The bills were always addressed to the company name and my husband. My husband and I split up 9 months ago, I stopped direct debit, anyway three months ago a bill arrived addressed to my husband and me, my name was never on any other paperwork. I called the company and told them my husband had left and the bill is nothing to do with me. They said as it was going from my bank, I am now liable and want me to pay the whole amount. Am I liable? I have never signed anything or seen t’s and c’s. Could you tell me where I stand with this please. Thanks Dawn

    • moneyaware

      Hi Dawn,

      Thanks for posting, sorry to hear about your situation.

      In most cases, debts that are taken out in your name are your liability to repay, even if you had a separate agreement with someone else.

      Some types of accounts, including joint and business accounts can be dealt with in joint names but responsibility for repaying credit cards fall down to the person named on the credit agreement, which for a credit card is only every one person.

      This likely means that it’s your responsibility to repay the debts.

      This is how we’d advise on this situation, but if you’re looking for further advice or legal help then this is something you could look to do. You may however need to pay for this type of advice.

      If you’re looking to deal with the debts and you are liable for them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us as we can help. You can visit our website at http://www.stepchange.org for more information on how we can help.

      Kind regards

      Rory

      • Dawn

        Thanks Rory, this debt wasn’t in my name tho, just the payment came from my personal bank account as my husband didn’t have an account. It was never in my name and I had nothing to do with it, just merely provided the account for the money to be taken. 🙁

      • moneyaware

        Hi Dawn,

        If the debt isn’t in your name and you weren’t named on the credit agreement for any money borrowed then you’re usually not liable to repay a debt.

        However you would be liable to repay any debts in your name that might have occurred because of payments towards a debt, such as using an overdraft to pay someone else’s debts.

        Responsibility for debts falls to whoever is named on the credit agreement, regardless of how the money was spent or what it was used for.

        Liability for consumer credit debts such as credit cards, unsecured loans and overdrafts is determined by whoever is named on the credit agreement.

        I hope this helps, if you need any further information please feel free to ask.

        Kind regards

        Rory

  • Leanne

    Hi there, I told one of my loan companies that I am currently in the process of a debt management plan and that they will contact them as soon as possible. They sent me an email back saying that interest will be frozen for 30 days as long as the debt management agency contacts them within this time. It’s only been 5 days and the loan company told me that they will contact my work to talk about the money I owe, I’m really scared that I’ll get fired the moment my manager hears about it. Can I do anything about this?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Leanne,

      Creditors have a responsibility to be clear, fair and not misleading, and should not be contacting your employer or any third party about your debt, or using unfair pressure tactics.

      The rules around what a creditor can do are explained in detail in the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) guidance for debt collectors In the rules it mentions the following:

      Section 7.9.6 states that “A firm must not unfairly disclose or threaten to disclose information relating to the customer’s debt to a third party”

      https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/CONC/7.pdf

      If this has happened we’d suggest making a formal complaint to the creditor as soon as possible, explaining what has happened and what you’d like them to do.

      I hope this helps, please try not to worry.

      Rory

  • Christopher Rowles

    Help & advise needed!!!!!!!!.
    we have a car on hire purchase we got it march 2015. in August 2015 ecu failed on it was under warranty and warranty backed out on us it cost alsmost £650 to sort out. In January 2016 the dpf failed on the car and is going to cost around £800-£1000 to sort out. As well as this we received a letter from Vauxhall in November 2015 to say theirs a problem with these Zafira B cars and if the heaters are used it could be a potential fire risk!!! they also did say in their letter that they will put this right at their cost when it is best for us the customer. ( when we go the car and used the heaters we could smell like a burning sulphure type smell ) all our payments to the finance company where kept up today even when it was out of action in august 2015. but when January came and it broken down again leaving us stranded again. with three kids in the back and we couldn’t use the heaters as per outlined above. we wrote, emailed, phoned the finance company and have been messed about and passed from pillow to post with them since January in respect who is going to foot the bill for the latest failures. we have been intouch with trading standards and they informed us to do them a letter refeence to the sales of goods act 1979 section 14 where it states that the item has to be fit for the purpose it was intended. we did this and the reply was to get a report done on the car at our expense to prove it was like this at point of sale. these reports can cost about £500 – £1000. we have stopped payments from January I no this is not right to do, since having this car we have had to go out and buy a car in July/August last year to keep us on the road also we had to buy a new battery as the one with car was faulty also replace two tyres as they was not road worthy, also replace the ecu unit. now we had to go and buy another cat to stay on the road costing £1000 just so the family can be mobile and to get my dad back and to from the hospital appointments as he is recovering from a serious stroke and cancer. trading standards can do very little at this time. and the fiancé company called last week to say they will repo the car. we told them that is ok and we will go to court to sort it out. a few days later we received a call from a manager in collections who confirmed they don’t repo cars as they don’t have storage facilities. and that they want payments made regular. she did say that she would try and assist us but think its to little to late!!!!!!!!!!! anyone what our rights if any are regarding hire purchase, Many thanks

    • moneyaware

      Hi there Chris, thanks for posting.

      I’m so sorry to hear about this stressful situation. I imagine it’s been frustrating for you.

      Although we wouldn’t be able to give specific advice on how to deal with this dispute, I can give you some information about how Hire Purchase (HP) agreements are usually dealt with. I hope this is helpful.

      If you’ve missed payments to the HP agreement but haven’t yet defaulted on the agreement (you’d be made aware of this, usually by letter and receive a default notice) then you’re within your rights to voluntarily surrender the car.

      This is usually a preferred option as it can work out cheaper in the long term if there’s any shortfalls to repay. Creditors can’t mislead you about your rights when this happens so you’ll need to speak to the company and discuss this with them. It’s important to surrender an item in writing if this option is still available to you.

      If you have defaulted on payments, you lose your right to voluntarily surrender the car and the creditor should ask you to return it. Again they shouldn’t mislead you about your rights. In some situations creditors can repossess the car without a court order if you’ve paid less than a third of the amount payable, or the car isn’t kept on private property.

      Its unusual for the creditor to not want to take the car back, so it may be worth writing a letter of complaint to detail the fact that you’ve tried to hand the car back but this hasn’t happened. You can also take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you’re not happy with the outcome of your complaint.

      I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck in resolving this matter.

      Kind regards

      Rachel

  • Stephen Mark Baggott

    abit of advice needed.

    i am currently considering going with a debt management agency as i lost my job, i am working again now but its alot less pay. I have a car on finance and am concerned i will lose it if i do go down the route of debt management.

    could you please shed some light on this

    • moneyaware

      Hi Stephen,

      This really depends on whether your car is on Hire Purchase (HP) or you took out an unsecured or finance loan for the car.

      If you have a car on HP you don’t legally own the vehicle until all payments are made, so if you miss payments or can’t keep up with them, there’s a risk that the car can be repossessed.

      If the car was taken out on finance, or an unsecured loan then you’ll likely be the legal owner of the car, and the car is yours even if you make reduced payments or can’t afford to repay the loan.

      If you’re in any doubts as to the type of agreement you have, speak to your finance provider. HP is also known as a ‘conditional sale agreement’.

      It’s important to also speak to the debt management company too, as in some cases it’s possible to prioritise the car payments if it’s a HP agreement, to prevent you losing the car. This does depend on your own individual situation though, and it’s not something we can offer specific advice on without knowing more.

      We’d also always recommend getting free advice, and not paying fees to debt management company. There are lots of organisations such as ourselves can offer fee-free DMPs where every penny gets paid towards your debts, whereas some will take a percentage of your payment which could mean it takes longer to repay your debts.

      You can find out more by visiting our website at http://www.stepchange.org/Howwecanhelpyou/DMPDebtmanagementplan.aspx

      I hope this helps,

      Rory

  • Kaleigh

    I was in a bad situation in 2010 I gave up work because my son at 5 months old was having tests and lots of appointments.. It turneds out he has a few medical problems including epilepsy… Anyway tax credits wanted receipts from my child minder… My childminder kept saying she would do it and never did… Anyway I had my own issues with my ill son and I even asked tax credits for help getting the info like could they write to her requesting the info as I wasn’t getting anywhere…

    Well I concentrated on my family and every year they chase me for this debt I DONT owe… A few years later I got the info to prove I didn’t owe this money and CAB helped me despute it and sent it off to them… They say I still owe this money as the info is out of the time scale…. But surely they can’t make me pay back money I actually DONT OWE AND CAN PROVE IT.

  • Natalie

    I took a car out on HP back in March 15, the interest is extortionate due to my bad credit, but I was happy with the agreement as I wanted to improve my credit rating etc. In May 2015 the HP company went into liquidation, I hadn’t made my first monthly payment until 1st May – should I have known about the company’s financial affairs I would not have taken out the agreement. Since then I have dealt with numerous administrators, the HP company themselves and the new company who has bought the title to my vehicle as I realised that the DOB on my agreement is incorrect. They refuse to correct my DOB which means this agreement does not show on my credit report (the whole reason I took out such an expensive HP agreement) & I continually have to change to whom and where I make my monthly payments. I feel as though I was completely miss sold the agreement & now I’m throwing money at many different firms as I’m unsure exactly what my rights are.

    Point being should I have been sold the vehicle if the company knew that they were going into administration & can I be forced to pay a debt that has my credentials down incorrectly.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for your message and I’m sorry to hear about the situation with your hire purchase agreement.

      If your date of birth was incorrect on your agreement, this is unlikely to render the agreement invalid. I’d suggest you make a formal complaint to the creditor that the information about your date of birth is incorrect. If you’re not happy with the outcome then the next step would be to take the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) who can look into it on your behalf. Should you need them, the FOS contact details are here: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm

      However it’s worth mentioning that if the HP agreement is regulated and you haven’t defaulted on it, you’d have a right to voluntarily terminate the agreement by handing back the car. The paperwork you got when you signed up to the agreement will usually mention whether or not it is regulated, and you can read more about the process of voluntary termination on our website: http://www.stepchange.org/Debtinformationandadvice/Typesofdebt/Hirepurchasedebt.aspx

      If you find you’re struggling to keep up with payments, I’d recommend you get in touch with us for free and impartial debt advice. You can have a chat with one of our advisors about your financial situation in more depth, and they can discuss with you how we can best support you. You can find out how to get in touch with us here: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • Debbie

    I was in rented accommodation for 18months that was previously a Hmo and was told at the signing of the tenancy that the utility bills were included in the rent. After I left I have started to receive debt letters in my name from that address at my new address saying I owe almost £8000 on a British Gas business account for an electric bill. I have made a complaint and they told me I would have to take the landlord to small claims. Looking at the tenancy agreement there is no mention whatsoever regarding whether utility bills. I had never received a bill whilst I was there for any utility, only council tax which I was paying.
    I work full time and can’t get into the CAB as they shut when I am available and have no hols to take a time off. I can’t afford to go to a solicitor and I really don’t know what to do next. I am being threatened with debt collectors now as b gas have passed the debt on.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Debbie, thank you for posting.

      As we primarily give advice on how to pay debts back based on your living expenses, we wouldn’t be able to properly advise you on how to go about disputing this debt. It may be worth trying to get some legal advice on how you would go about disputing this debt. Civil Legal Advice can talk through your options over the telephone: https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice.

      As this is a business account, it may also be worth getting in touch with Business Debtline to see what your options may be: https://www.businessdebtline.org

      Kind regards

      Rachel

  • Rich

    I Signed up to a Capital one card 3 years ago, and ran up a bill of £2,000 being young and dumb!…The card was in my girlfriends address at the time which she is renting, We have since broken up. However she still receives letters from Capital one addressed to me even though I have told them that I cannot pay the money back and don’t even live at that address any longer. I also get phone calls from a debt collection agency maybe 3/4 times a week.
    In short I am worried that they will go looking to my Ex partner for the money. Am I worrying about nothing or do they have a right as the card was taken out at the time using her address?

    Thankyou, Rich

    • moneyaware

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for your message. If the card is in your name only and isn’t held jointly then you would be responsible for paying the money back, and your ex-partner shouldn’t be impacted even though it’s registered at her address.

      However it’s your responsibility to make sure creditors have up-to-date contact details for you, so if they have an incorrect address on file then I’d recommend you write to your creditor to let them know your new address. If your creditor’s informed that you’ve changed address then this is something they should update on your file, so if they don’t then I’d suggest you file a complaint with them.

      You also mention that you’re not able to pay the money back at the moment. If you’re struggling to make payments to the debt then this is something we can help you with. I’d suggest you get in touch with us for free and impartial advice on how to deal with the debt. You can read a bit more about how we can help here: http://www.stepchange.org/Howwecanhelpyou.aspx

      We can have a chat with you in more detail about your financial circumstances and recommend the best options for your situation. You can find out how to get in touch with us here: http://www.stepchange.org/Contactus.aspx

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • Pramod

    What happens if a person has taken unsecured loan in a foreign land and moved to other country due to job loss. Is there any legal implication and how it can re-paid.

    • moneyaware

      Hi Pramod,

      Thanks for your message. It would depend on which country you’re leaving and which country you’re moving to, as some countries have agreements in place which allow creditors to take action to recover money across borders.

      If you’re living abroad and owe money in the UK, and are concerned about being able to make repayments towards the debts, this is something we can help you with. You can find out more about how we can help on our website: http://www.stepchange.org/LivingoutsidetheUK.aspx

      Kind regards,

      Laura

  • Dave

    Hi
    I’ve had a personal loan from everyday loans which has been defaulted so I’ve been paying the min payment for the past 8 months I recently lost my job last month so couldn’t make a payment this month they are saying if I don’t pay they will send debt collectors for collection of goods can they do that??

    • moneyaware

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for posting.

      Creditors often refer to debt collection agencies, or doorstep debt collectors when asking you to make repayments, but these aren’t bailiffs and can’t take your goods away.

      I’d recommend reading our section on home visits from debt collection agents to find out more, and to help you get advice if you need it. You can find out more here:

      http://www.stepchange.org/Debtinformationandadvice/Whatyourcreditorscando/Homevisits.aspx

      I hope this helps,

      Rory

  • Chelsea

    I have a Very catalogue debt for just over £2100.It was originally £3500 but I’ve been paying it and the large amount of interest off for some time now. The problem is I’ve recently lost my job and the £160 monthly payments they want from me are no longer possible. What can I do? Will I be taken to court over this?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Chelsea,

      Thanks for posting.

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, it sounds like you’ve already worked hard to reduce the debt and the loss of a job can make things even more difficult.

      In this situation it’s really important to make sure you get some expert advice on how to deal with the debt. I’d recommend using our anonymous online Debt Remedy tool available at:

      http://www.stepchange.org/Debtremedy.aspx

      The tool will let you enter details about your debts and your situation and offer all of the advice you need. We’ll explain what creditors can do, the best way to deal with your debts and practical advice for your situation.

      I hope this helps,

      Rory

  • Mr CM

    I hope I can get some advice

    I owned a property with ex partner and she defaulted on the mortgage payments and left for Australia with the guy she left me for (Dec 2008). I had no option but to let the bank repossess our home “ON THEIR ADVICE” as they would not let me sell at a loss and the other party was not engaging with the bank nor my solicitors or the banks. I agreed as I would be confident that I would be dealing with the bank regarding shortfall afterwards. Now the bank (my employer) has sold my shortfall debit to Cabot Financial without my consent despite me still having other loans and credit cards with the bank that are operating and being met. How can they do this? Surely they should have sold off all my unsecured debt instead of partial?

    Because I am a staff member of the bank, I was told that once repossessed, the bank would not expect me to pay the full shortfall some £70,000+ possibly (despite being a joint and severable liable mortgage) as I was fully engaging from the start and was doing all I could.

    I have had no letter from the bank saying they are passing on PART of my debts to Cabot. I received a letter from Cabot asking for me to contact them.

    I do not want to engage with them as for obvious reasons. My agreement was with the bank and I took the banks advice for repossession solely on the basis that I would be dealing with them. Furthermore half the mortgage was at staff rate and affordability was dubious had the relationship broke down (to which it did due to financial pressures of meeting the mortgage). It’s a complete mess and I feel like I have been screwed over by my employer. I don’t know where to go now. I have submitted a complaint to the bank to which they are not changing.

    • moneyaware

      Hi there,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, the circumstances surrounding the debt and the mortgage shortfall.

      Creditors are allowed to pass debts on, or sell them to third party debt collection agencies. This is part of the normal debt collection process, and as long as you’re informed about what’s happening then this is allowed to happen.

      I can understand your frustration that you’d prefer to deal with your bank rather than a debt collection agency, but it’s important to remember that the way you’re dealt with by the collection agency should always remain clear, fair and not misleading.

      All creditors that deal with debts in this way are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and as such, have specific guidelines on what they can and can’t do.

      The risk is that if you choose to ignore the creditors request for information or don’t make payments, they could take further action against you.

      I’m not sure whether working for the bank means that having a CCJ would affect your employment, but in my experience of also working for a bank, this was the case. Ignoring the debt because you’re unhappy about dealing with an authorised third-party could result in this type of action being taken.

      Ultimately it’s your decision what you decide to do, but having dealt with many situations like this, it’s often the best idea to find ways to dealing with the debt, especially if the creditor is within their rights and a complaint isn’t being upheld in your favour.

      Often the action creditors take when a debt isn’t dealt with can make an already bad situation worse. Perhaps if you now take steps to arrange and speak to the creditor, you can find ways to come to an agreement that you’re both satisfied with.

      I hope this helps,

      Rory

  • Kathy Whittington

    I have just received a letter from a debt collection agency allegedly on behalf of HMRC for an alleged over payment of tax credits. I have disputed this over payment (from around 8 years ago) I have never accepted liability for the debt and have received no contact until Saturday when I received this letter, what should I do? The alleged over payment was due to my then partner advising them he was in receipt of JSA but they listed it as the wrong sort of JSA (income based as opposed to contribution based or something). I spoke to them at the time and they advised me that it would be adjusted in my following years tax credits so I left it. As advised have received no contact until this letter 2 days ago.

  • Ruth

    I have a CCJ against a tenant who in one year acrued over £6000 debt. She has defaulted on the repayments since the first month, however she will not give me an address and is living temporarily with different friends so I cannot trace her. What can I do, as I am at her mercy and she pays such tiny amounts to me, at times which suit her. I feel she will never clear her debt and she can just disappear. I have repeatedly asked for her address, but she knows not to give it to me. What other avenues can I try?

    • moneyaware

      Hi Ruth, thanks for posting.

      From what you’ve told us, it may be a good idea to get in touch with Business Debtline. Their number is 0800 197 6026 and they’re open 9 – 5:30pm. They can advise on recovery of debts owed to a business, which is essentially what you’re dealing with when a client (in this case, a former tenant) owes you money. It may also be worth getting in touch with a debt collection agency, as they can sometimes offer tracing services to find a debtor’s contact details.

      There’s also the option of getting in touch with the High Court Enforcement Officers, who may be able to offer you further guidance on your options for recovering the money.

      I hope this information helps.

      Kind regards

      Rachel

      • Ruth

        I have just found my debtor’s work address. Can I use that for a high court enforcement? I have tried a tracing agent, but as she is living in someone’s spare room and re-directing her mail (which still comes to my address) via the post office, they were not able to find her 🙁 I will try the HCEOs tomorrow. Thanks for your help.

  • Nathan Ellis

    hi i know this is a bit of a silly debt of £60 to EE for a contract phone i got out . but the thing is I’ve paid £35 witch has left £25 . but the thing is even tho ive paid some of the debt its now been passed on to moorcroft saying i owe £60 do i have to pay moorcroft as I’ve not singed nothing just a little advice please

    • moneyaware

      Hi Nathan,

      Creditors are allowed to pass debts on to debt collection agencies, this is part of the normal debt collection process. You don’t need to sign any new agreements, as long as you’re notified of the debt being passed on.

      You’ll now need to make sure any payments go to the new creditor.

      If you’ve got questions about the balance of the debt, and why it’s gone up since you last made a payment, it’s usually best to speak to them to find out more.

      It could be that extra charges and interest have been added to the debt, and these should be fair and reasonable. The new creditor should be able to explain this in more detail for you.

      I hope this helps,

      Rory

  • Liz

    Hi
    I have just been advised that my debt management company has sold my debt to a collection agencies. The debt company has over £6k in their account, does this get transferred to the collection agency. I hope someone can advise as I really can’t afford to lose that £6k

  • Sarah

    I have an ongoing debt with Natwest who have now passed it to a collection agency (now 5 years on), for a considerable amount £25000, the loan was in joint names with my now ex husband, him being the first applicant. It was joint and severally liable, but Natwest aren’t interested in reclaiming the debt from both of us, just me. I’m happy to pay my share and have passed my ex husbands details on to them but they don’t want them. It is only me they have instructed the collection agency to chase for the full amount. I am now a single mum, who works part time and have a huge rent to find plus my ex husband only pays £40 child maintence payments per month through the CSA. Everything else I cover myself. He lives with his new family with no debts and no rent and hardly contributes to the children’s well being.
    Is there anything I can do to get them to recover his share of the loan so I’m not stuck with the whole amount? I have less than £20 surplus money at the end of each month, assuming nothing major goes wrong!!! I am in no position to repay this whole debt.