Some debt collecting companies are much worse than the rest. Perhaps
the most notorious of the bunch specialise in firing off tentative letters
about hypothetical debt telling people they owe money when they know
full well they owe nothing at all. This works well for these debt purchasing
firms simply because they have observed that some folk will always pay
the money even though they realize they owe nothing to anybody. The
least honest of these debt collecting companies purchase information
about lists of delinquent debtor accounts over six years old and try
to make money from these. They are known as Statute
Barred debts, and they cannot be legally enforced.
They will probably ask you for your mobile number if you have one.
But you should not give out your number to them. Because if you do they
will bother you at home and at work any time they want to. They will
do this even when you ask them to stop, so tell them in writing, and
preferably send the letter by recorded delivery to get a signature at
the other end (although so many of these people operate from a PO box
number so a signature is impossible to get). Some DPCs will even stoop
to contacting the people who live next door to you and ask them if they
know anything about your debt. Some may tell your children that you
are bad because you can't pay your bills or threaten to do this, wanting
to scare you and widen their profit margin. All these companies are
profit driven and their sales force know that they have to reach targets.
All the things just described are odd, but the law seems to turn
a blind eye. Coping with ARC debt collection agency can be extremely
Remember to insist on handling the debt collection firms by post.
Never give out your telephone number. The trouble is at first they will
tell you they are the bank and therefore make you feel obliged to cooperate
with what they say. Your uncertainty and perplexity is important to
them, so they like to create as much confusion as they possibly can:
here is where ARC debt collection agency will have the best result.
As soon as they get access to your details they will use it to worry
you and even to terrorize you. The law is there to stop this happening
but most people just don't know which laws to use and how well the DPCs
use this to their own benefit. Bodies like the CCCS and the CAB (Citizen's
Advice Bureau) give a good service although all too often they are overburdened
so there are times when their advice is lacking in detail.
It is an option for you to question the validity of the amount owed
or indeed the existence of the debt itself by making a SAR (Subject
Access Request) in response to ARC debt collection agency. The true
owner of the account (the bank or the debt collection company) is obliged
to send you a true copy of your original credit agreement with the bank
if the agreement was signed before 6th of April 2007. When they do not
do this they are breaking the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and the alleged
debt is in dispute. As long as the debt is in dispute they cannot make
further demands on you (if they do they are breaking the law again)
and they must not sell it on to another agency (which many do nevertheless
at this stage). As long as the alleged debt is in dispute it cannot
be enforced, even by a court. There is a series of pre-written letters
available that you can use to follow up after this. If you want you
can get a lawyer to do this for you, owing to the difficulty of the
law at certain points. There are also specialist legal and paralegal
firms who offer services in this area.