Debt Questions forum. General questions on debt issues.

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By rusty416
#301663 Hi all who read and hopefully help... :lol:

I have multiple debts that I have not paid anything off of from around 8 years ago. I have recently received a letter entitled "Reduced settlement letter" the basics saying despite repeated efforts the debt remains unpaid and that their client is prepared to accept a reduced amount to draw it to a close. Although fairly softly written at the end it says "we would prefer an amicable settlement, however, should the sttlement amount not be paid by the specifgied date, we will not hesitate to review the options available to us, which may include: Instructing a doorstep agent to make an appointment to visit you at home and discussing your financial situation and repayment of this debt."

From what I have heard and read, I believe that this should now be basically unrecoverable as it must have been defaulted over 6 years ago. In this case they can't get a court order or visit my property (certainly not with a bailif.)

I suffer from anxiety and agoraphobia and am extremely concerned now that someone is going to come and take my stuff and living in a hightened state of fear (even more than normal.) :shock:

I heard that there was a letter somewhere (but couldn't locate on this site) that I can send them. If somone will direct me there, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, if anyone would tell me whether my understanding is correct or not, that would be great too.

I have just signed up for the free trial of credit expert to see what's on my credit report but there was a problem with the sign up process and I have to phone them tomorrow to get it sorted. If this debt has gone past (which I am certain it has) the "cut off" period - 6 years, I believe it will not even show on my credit report, although they said they got my details from Experian.

Please will someone help clarify some of these issues I have raised? Thanks in advance...
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By JaneClack
#301673 Good afternoon!

Do not panic - you are not alone and it looks like a fishing expedition as others will come along and tell you.

If you have lived at the same address and you are sure it is over 6 years since you last made a payment or acknowledged the debt in writing then you are quite right, it is statute barred. There is a good template letter attached to the fact sheet from on the fact sheet section - Liability for Debts and the Limitation Act. I think it is factsheet 20.

As you have probably read elsewhere on this forum, if not others, then you will know that creditors often sell on books of debt and companies buy them knowing that a lot will not be enforceable but they haven't paid much so they give it a go - after all, anything is better than nothing.

Doorstep collectors are very expensive and it is unlikely they will be sent - and if they are, you do not have to open the door to them.

The OFT have strict guidelines re debt collection and once the creditor has been told it is statute barred then they should desist from contacting you - and you should report them to the OFT if they do.

Given your health you would also come under their "vulnerable" heading so really, you have nothing to worry about - easier said than done I know.

Gazza will have some information for you I am sure!

By johnny 73
#301683 it's highly unlikely that no one will be calling at your home. in many many years of doing this job i've only known it happen a handful of time

even if it did, they are not a bailiff, cannot come into your home, cannot force a payment from you and has no more right of entry to your home than your dustman does. you dont have to speak to them, or even open the door. it's just a scare tactic

re bailiffs; they can't be instructed to call unless the creditor has first obtained a court order against you, and only then if you dont make payments in line with the order
By rusty416
#301693 Thanks for getting back Sara & Johnny and cheers for the info, I feel a lot less panicky now.
I checked out my credit report on the free trial at Experian Creditexpert and nearly fell off my seat when I saw my score was "good"!! As I thought, none of the debts were on there that I was worried about including the one I mention above. I found an excellent template, thanks to your advice Sara! And if they contact me again will fire it off at them.

After seeing my report there are 2 defaulted accounts with British Gas which funnily enough actually aren't my debt. They are from when I shared a house with a (now ex) friend who didn't pay his half of the bills. I have checked and I still have the old bills from 2009 which I have written whether I paid online or in post office and the receipt number. I remember at the time I rang them to see what could be done as I had paid my half and they basically said that as we were joint names on the account, I was still liable regardless of the fact I was the only one who had actually made any payments. This happened with council tax and another friend who I was joint named with, he didn't pay his portion and it went to court. I had to attend but when I did, I took along my proof and I was let off on the spot and no further action was taken. I doubt that British Gas are likely to take me to court but I'm slightly concerned if I move and have to use them as I'm on pre-pay meter at the moment. Any ideas that could help with this?

I'm almost tempted to just leave it as it's obviously not bad enough for me to be refused credit and my score is still classed as good but I wonder has anyone got any nuggets of info that could help me get this sorted without too much hassle please?

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By Gazza1912
#301753 First things first: Hello and welcome. I know where you are coming from as I myself suffer from anxiety and severe clinical depression.

Now with regards the points you have raised. To begin with you need to try and stop worrying and panicking as there really is no need.
Debt Collection Agengies (DCAs) have absolutely NO additional powers other than the SAME powers as the Original Creditor (OC) has in which to recover debts.

Oh sure, they will try and make you think that they do, but the bare fact is they DO NOT. Moorcroft or MoorDebt are notorious for this as their letters are very carefully composed with the addition of 'Pre-Court Division' at the top of their letters. They also print it in red just like I have to make it stand out and to make you think that they are in some way connected to the Courts, when the reality is they are NOT.

It is very clever use of font style and colour to scare you. This is the ONLY 'weapon' a DCA has - *The Scare Tactic*. And many other DCAs use similar tactics. If a DCA gets the slighetest indication that they have scared you, then they will play on that. So you do really need to stand your ground and stand up to them. Do not allow yourself to be scared or intimidated by them. If you can do this, you have to all intents and purposes beatem them in their own game, as apart from scaring you, they really do not have any other 'weapon' in which to try and get you to pay up.

Right, so they have written to you out the blue offering you a reduced amount. That alone indicates to me that they are aware that this debt is *Statute Barred* and are simply trying their luck. They will have bought your debt for a fraction of the outstanding amount and even by offering you a reduced amount offer, they will still be making a profit if you fall for their scare tactics and pay up.

And that brings me nicely onto my next point. DCAs are in that business to MAKE money, not spend it or give it away. Therefore it will be extremely unlikely that they will send *Doorstep Collectors* to your home as that will cost THEM money. And in any case, they must first obtain your permission to attend and book a mutually agreed time and date. If you are still concerned about possible Doorstep Visits, then you could WRITE to the DCA who has contacted you and include the following:-

'With reference to any possible Home Visit you may be contemplating, I would advise you that OFT rules and regulations clearly state that you can only visit me at my home if you make an appointment and I can advise you now that I have no wish to make such an appointment either now or at any time in the future. Further, there is an implied license under English Common Law for people to be able to visit me on my property without express permission; the postman and people asking for directions etc. (Armstrong v. Sheppard and Short Ltd [1959] 2 Q.B. per Lord Evershed M.R.). Therefore, take note that I revoke license under Common Law for you, or your representatives, to visit me at my property. If you send "doorstep collectors" to my home you will be reported for harassment and be liable for damages for a tort of trespass. You would also be liable for conspiring in a tort of trespass by acting in defiance of my instructions and sending someone to visit me nevertheless. Should it prove necessary, I will obtain an injunction.'

Now, let us suspose you send the above and they still send a Doorstep Agent to your home, (that is extremely unlikely, but lets go along with it for now), then you are under no legal obligation to let them into your home. You do not even have to speak with them through the letter box, except to advise them to leave or you will dial 999 and call the Police. DCAs will try tto fool you into believing that Doorstep Agents have the same powers as Bailiffs. They DO NOT. Doorstep Agents have no more power than your local postman, free newspaper delivery boy, Jehova's Witness or a Double Glazing Salesman. They may 'threaten' to send Bailifs as that is often a very successful *scare tactic*, but no Bailiffs will attend, which leads us onto our next point......

......with regards to Bailiffs attendng your home. IF this debt of yours IS *Statute Barred* then that simply ain't gonna happen. Bailiffs can ONLY be instructed to act by a Court of Law and the Courts DO NOT become involved with *Statute Barred* debts. And even then that would not happeen unless the OC or the DCA has successfully obtained a CCJ against you and you have defaulted on the agreed repayments.

So what should you do? Well, you basically have three options:

(1) Ignore this letter and ignore all further letters. Once the DCA 'gets the message', which they will eventually, they will give up.

(2) Write to them and send them the *Statute Barred* letter. And then wait and see what their next move is.

(3) Agree to accept their offer, but get that IN WRITING first and make sure they make it clear that they will not be selling on the remaining balance to other DCAs and that they will remove any reference to this debt from your Credit Files. You should ONLY do this if your concious dictates and you want to clear this up, but remember, you are under NO LEGAL OBLIGATION now to repay this debt - IF it is statute barred. The debt will NEVER go away as many debtors often believe, it will always be there lurking in the background, but it just becomes legally unenforceable. But this may not prevent the debt from 'doing the rounds' andd being sold on from one DCA to another.

I've had a few debts that have been bought by several DCAs and after I have made it very clear to them that I will not be scared or intimidated by their pathetic threats and 'we may' scare tactics, they sell it onto to another DCA and the circle starts again, but it does eventually come to a halt. Do not misunderstand me, I am not a 'won't pay', in many cases I am a 'cannnot pay' or for the vast majority of my debts, I simply refuse to deal with DCAs and negogiate repayment plans with my original creditors. But if I ain't got the money, as is my current situation, then they cannot have it. They cannnot have what I ain't got, so they can threaten as much as they like, it won't get them anywhere. It certainly does not get them any money. I've had many dealings with DCAs since I got myself deep into debt, and to date, not one of the countless DCAs who have sent me their 'we may' letters have got one single penny out of me and they never will.

So let me end by quoting a passage from your post:

"we would prefer an amicable settlement, however, should the sttlement amount not be paid by the specifgied date, we will not hesitate to review the options available to us, which may include: Instructing a doorstep agent to make an appointment to visit you at home and discussing your financial situation and repayment of this debt."

Now there is ONE word in that entire paragraph that you need to take note of, and that is the word "MAY". 'MAY' might come after April in the Calendar, but in the DCA world, 'MAY' seldom, if ever, comes.

Of course they want "an amicable settlement". They want to make a bit of profit on an unenforceable debt. "we will not hesitate to review the options available to us" An interesting sentence, but they do not really have any other options as statute barred debts are legally unenforceable and they KNOW it. The ONLY options they really have are (1) to forget all about it and give it up as a loss, or (2) to sell it onto another DCA.

That paragraph indicated clearly to me, (but remember I am no expert), that this DCA is simply trying it on and chancing their arm. They are preying on what they hope is your vulnerability to cope, and your ignorance of the Law. As soon as they can see that you will not be scared or intimidated by them, they do tend to back off. They might not leave you alone to begin with, but their letters will get less and less 'demanding' and intimidating. Well, that has always been the case with me, so I am speaking from personal experience.

Above all, calm down if you can, stop worrying and chill out. It is only money at the end of the day. And from what you have written in your opening post, it is money you are now no longer legally obliged to repay and money that they are extremely uinlikely to get.

Finally, I feel I ought to make two further, final points:

(1) There is a slim possibility that the DCA who has written to you, is not actually aware that this debt is statute barred. Many DCAs buy up debts, but they do not buy the history of the debt. They simple get the bare facts: who you owed the money to, and how much. So, you might want to consider sending this DCA the statute barred letter.


(2) If you spend some time reading the various threads on this forum, you will see that there are some 'good', or rather should I say 'not so bad' DCAs and it can sometimes be beneficial to deal with a DCA as opposed to the original creditor. For example, the OC will continue to apply interest charges to the outstanding amount, whereas a DCA will tend to 'freeze' all future interest payments. I've not, to the very best of my own recollection, had any dealings with such a DCA myself, but I have read enough topics on this Forum to know that this is the case.

I hope this will be of some help.

By chandjay
#301773 Gazza, you are a star. I take my hat off to you.
What a superb reply to a worried poster. I'm sure you're reply will have put their mind at ease a little.
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By Gazza1912
#301783 Well, I know only too well what it is like to suffer and live with anxiety. I am not agrophobic, but I am a depressive and as such I believe I can symphathize with this particular member and I just hope that the advice I have posted above will be of some help.

I was once in the position where I was terrified of DCA letters and the threats of Doorstep Collectors, but not anymore. Over the years I have been in debt, and thanks to websites like this one, I have come to terms with my own problems and know roughly how to deal with them. I'll never have any money of my own, my depression sees to that, as any other depressive will tell you, depression can lead to spending, and spending money you can ill afford on things you do not need. But I am beginning to cope with this now.

One thing I will NOT let get to me is DCA empty threats and 'we may' letters. I know now how best to deal with them and I simply do not allow myself to be scared or intimidated by them. I've beem threatend with Bankruptcy, Court, Doorstep Collectors, Agents turning up at my place of work, and even Prison....yep, as crazy as that last one is, one DCA even threatened that I would be sent to Prison for non-payment of a non-priority debt.

But I now repay what I can afford to repay, by a method of repayment that I choose, and not what a DCA dictates, and I pay as and when I can afford to pay. This does mean that some months, I cannot make any payments, but other months I can make two payments in a month.

Just a few days ago, I had a letter from a DCA who had used a Tracing Agency to contact me, and I was so curious, I rang the number on their letter as it was a freephone number. I did this because I know how to deal with DCAs on the telephone and they were trying to get me to pay an old Littlewoods account that was actually in dispute from 1996. I told the guy on the phone who was actually very pleasant, that he must be having a laugh. And following a short conversation, in which I advised him the debt became *Statute Barred* in 2002, he told me the account would be closed down and this they have done as I now have a letter confirming this.

But it just goes to show how a DCA will chance their arm as it were to try and get payment for old debts no longer legally enforceable. even debts as old as sixteen years!!
By rusty416
#301793 Nice one Gazza. Thanks for the info, clarifying lots of points and helping to put my mind at rest. Depression is another one of my many health complaints (mental and physical) but I didn't feel like listing them all as I'm not exactly proud of my conditions - I am forced to live with them but hope it will not always be the same. I will certainly not allow any DCA's affect me any more thanks to all of the info that you guys have passed on - many thanks!
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By Gazza1912
rusty416 wrote:Nice one Gazza. Thanks for the info, clarifying lots of points and helping to put my mind at rest. Depression is another one of my many health complaints (mental and physical) but I didn't feel like listing them all as I'm not exactly proud of my conditions - I am forced to live with them but hope it will not always be the same. I will certainly not allow any DCA's affect me any more thanks to all of the info that you guys have passed on - many thanks!
It is not necessary to list your illnesses here, but I assure you, not one single member here wil think any the less of you for suffering from an illnes, and Depression IS an illness. Like you, I am forced to live with it, but through my own depression, I found a local Charity for people with Special Needs and Learning Disabilities, and I now give up a lot of my time to volunteer and drive their mini-bus. And this voluntary work is helping me to cope with my depression.

Sorry, Admin, for going a tad off-topic here, but I can personally identify with Rusty and I just wanted to pass on all the help I feel I can.
Rusty, please do not let DCAs and their letters get to you or get you down. You really have nothing to fear. Remember, it is your fear that they will prey on if they know they have 'hooked' you in.

They are nothing more than school playground bullies at the end of the day.

Take Care........Gazza... :wink: