Debt Advice

CJC
CJC Font Of All KnowledgeRegistered Posts: 1,657
OK, here's something for all you credit controllers....

I got a letter this afternoon from a collection agency regarding the recovery of an alleged debt I have with Vodaphone. This led me to scratch my head somewhat as I have no account with this company. On making further enquiries I discover that I was supposed to have incurred the debt in 1997. Apparently it has taken them ten years to chase up this debt including the four years to 2001 when I was resident at the address where the debt was allegedly incurred. To my recollection there was been no communication regarding this matter until I received the demand for payment today.

Now, the amount isn't huge and probably not worth taking legal advice over but I'm not surprisingly loathe to pay this without making at least some sort of fuss. My initial plan is to write to them asking for a full audit trail for the debt and an explanation of why it has taken them so long to make a payment demand.

Thoughts anyone?

Comments

  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    It is quite bizarre but considering the extremely uncompetitive state the once mighty Vodafone have got themselves in over the last few years, I can't say I'm too surprised they're starting to look at "cold case" debts!

    Ten years does seems a long time but 'debts never die' unless by mutual agreement (as far as I know) and they're still entitled to ask for the money as ridiculous as it seems. Even after writing off bad debts here at work I still pursue the debtors for the money wherever I can.
  • farmergiles
    farmergiles Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,693
    I thought that if the debt was over 6 years old and they had made no attempt to recover it before now, it should have died. No doubt one of our more learned members can put us straight on this
  • CJC
    CJC Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,657
    The whole business seems most curious to me. I think a phone call to the local Citizens Advice Bureau will be my next move. If what Peter says is correct then it's surely a case of the debt collectors just trying it on. For the record, their threats of legal action have caused me considerable mental distress and I'll be taking a grave view of the situation if it turns out that they were without warrant.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Not much help unless you live in Texas but I couldn't find much about debt expiry in the UK!

    http://www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7488

    http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060626042233AAw7Th8
  • sarahwilson
    sarahwilson Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 567
    Now this I do know about because the same thing happened to me!! I think it only applies to personal debt though so don't take this as gospel if its business debt.

    You can go onto moneysavingexpert.com and check if you like as I aren't sure why after 6 years Vodaphone can no longer chase you for the debt, but they can't. Companies then come in and buy these debts for buttons and try and chase them themselves. If you acknowledge that you think you owe them the money as that starts the debt collecting process over and they have 6 years to try and get the money out of you. If you don't acknowledge it and simply ignore their letters they will give up. In most cases they will not send anyone to your house as its simply too expensive, once they've bought the debt, paid the doorstep collector and raised all the letters its not worth it unless you talking of thousands.

    It may not even be your debt as they just search the electoral register for anyone who has the same initials and surname and of a similar age to their debtor, which is what happened to me.

    PM me if you want anymore info I have yards of it!!
  • CJC
    CJC Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,657
    Thanks for the help, folks. On further investigation and some help from these guys http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk it would seem that this is a 'statute barred debt'. As Sarah said, if there is no communication or any repayment made within six years that's it. I imagine that the collection agencies are counting on people not knowing their rights in such cases and just coughing up
  • Cullen
    Cullen Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 592
    So is it a bit of a scam? It wasn't even your debt in the first place, and if it was it is out of date and therefore uncollectable? Hmmm, the scoundrels! Imagine the effect on people without a resource like this forum.
  • bryan100
    bryan100 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 23
    I think it would be worth sending details to one the broadsheets who run columns on this type of stuff. The Observer has a good one. It sounds like a scam to me, I would ignore theur letters and refuse to talk to any phone callers.
  • sarahwilson
    sarahwilson Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 567
    Its not a scam as such (believe me though I aren't defending the practice), these people are more like vultures, they are the grey area of debt collection. Some of the companies that do it literally try to frighten people into paying and are fairly unscrupulous. The concept of buying a debt that a firm can no longer be bothered or is legally allowed to collect is in principle fine. If they think they can get something out of it why not? The trouble is that to take on this kind of hit and miss work you aren't going to get many well qualified people to work for the firm because a 50% success rate is probably optimistic, no collection no commission which is why they are heavy handed from the off. They send the letter out to people they think it might be from the electoral register, so theres probably 2 or 3 Sarah Wilsons in Leeds that got hit with the same letter presumably one of them owed the money. I even got offered 50% reduction in the debt if I paid up in 7 days.

    I think they should either make it illegal, if a debts legally uncollectable by one firm why should another be able to try their luck or regulate it to hell to stop some of the scare tactics I have read about.
  • CJC
    CJC Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,657
    No, I don't think it's a scam as such either. They seem to have the details correct enough that there is a possibility that I did incur this debt. My beef is that I had no communication of any unpaid bill at the time it was supposedly incurred or at any time since. There is a good chance that this debt is legally uncollectable and they're just chancing their arm to see if I'll pay up without quibbling.

    Vultures would seem to be very much the appropriate term.
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Make these vulture debt companies illegal? In an age where the government itself would legalise just about anything as long as it raised funds, squander £25bn of taxpayers money supporting a private company (Northern Rock) not to mention wasting further tens of billions on questionable foreign policies while all the time harassing ordinary people for minsicule sums of overpaid tax credits, should we really be too surprised?
  • burg
    burg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    As you have found out already - As the debt is over 6years old it is regarded as statute barred.

    Please be aware that this does not mean that the debt no longer exists but that you have the final decision as to whether you repay it or not.
    I can guess what you will choose!

    Firstly only write to them and do not call as the charges a ridiculous and it is against regulations for them to collect debt via the telephone.

    Secondly follow the following link for a sample letter. This will request the CCA (consumer Credit Agreement) which debt collection agencies who have legaly purchased your debt will be able to issue to you. Trust me they often can't supply this as they have not purchased your debt. (Debt collections agencies buy your debt so you no longer owe vodafone but the agency).
    This will cost you £1 but is well worth it.

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showpost.html?p=4941606&postcount=1

    Definately include this phrase

    I do not acknowledge ANY debt to your company

    and possibly use these references

    You must supply me with a true copy of the alleged agreement you refer to. This is my right under your obligation to supply a copy of the agreement under the legislation contained within s.78 (1) Consumer Credit Act 1974 (s.77 (1) for fixed sum credit) - your obligation also extends to providing a statement of account. I enclose £1 in payment of the statutory fee.

    You are notified that you are obliged to supply these documents, whether you are the original creditor or not under S189 of the CCA 1974

    Non-compliance with my request is a criminal offence under the above Act and will result in a report being submitted to the relevant statutory authorities.

    As you are aware, a credit agreement that is not properly documented and signed by the customer is totally unenforceable under the CCA and therefore is a complete defence to any court claim that is issued.

    Take note at this stage, that any legal action you may contemplate will be both vigorously defended and contested.

    Please take this letter as notice that any further communication by telephone will constitute harressment and will be reported to Trading Standards, the OFT, and the Financial Ombudsman. All further communication must be by letter.


    Do not sign the letter just print your name (some have been known to copy it and make up a CCA)

    Make sure it is sent recorded delivery
    .


    Don't worry as I have seen many of thses on another forum (MSE) where you often do not have to pay its a pain but stick with it and don't let these people get away with it.
    Please then post again when you have a reply or want to decide what to do next.

    Good luck
    Regards,

    Burg
  • sarahwilson
    sarahwilson Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 567
    blobbyh wrote: »
    Make these vulture debt companies illegal? In an age where the government itself would legalise just about anything as long as it raised funds, squander £25bn of taxpayers money supporting a private company (Northern Rock) not to mention wasting further tens of billions on questionable foreign policies while all the time harassing ordinary people for minsicule sums of overpaid tax credits, should we really be too surprised?


    When you put it like that Robert I don't know why I'm surprised at all, make it illegal they are more likely to use our taxes to fund it!!
  • CJC
    CJC Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,657
    Thanks for that, much appreciated. The letter requesting a copy of the CCA is in the post. Watch this space!
  • CJC
    CJC Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,657
    This story finally has a conclusion...

    Round 1:

    Wescott (the collection agency) were unable to furnish me with a copy of the CCA and said they didn't have too. I wrote back and said it was statute barred. A few (ignored) letters and phone calls where I refused to give them my details, I got a solicitor's letter alone the lines of 'If you don't pay up in 10 days we'll take you to court.' At this point I got worried and went along CAB. They basically told me, wait until they actually start proceedings as you can make a settlement offer at any time. I fiigured the debt was statute barred so it was up to them put their money where their mouth was if they though otherwise and I wrote to them saying in essence 'see you in court'.

    Round 2:
    Time passes. During this time Wescott obviously sold the debt on to DCA No.2 Fredrickson International without apparently telling them what had gone on. No honour amongst theives here. So, the whole process starts over. Letters asking for payment, snotty letters back from me,phone calls from them with me giving them a piece of my mind pack. Solicitors letters, 10 days to pay and all that. Then a letter from the solicitors saying that the debt was NOT in fact statute barred as a payment had been made in 2004 - something I know to be untrue. Letter back suggesting that the OFT and/or The Law Society might take a dim view of them making false and potentially fraudulent claims. Letter back a few days letter, all action regarding the debt had been stopped.

    I win! OK, so the debt was only £50 but I sure as hell ain't gonna give my money to people just 'cos they ask for it. Bunch of bastards.
  • burg
    burg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Well done but sadly that may not be the end of it yet.

    It may just get sold on to somebody else and it will be all over again.

    These companies just ignore all the rules and hope people do exactly what you didn't - panic and just pay up at the fear of going to court.

    I wonder why they said they didn't have to supply the CCA?!

    Best of luck for the future if another thing comes up. I had Severn Trent chase me for £150ish not so long back when I never held the account my wife (then gf with different name) did. We never owed them and never paid.

    If you liked getting one up on them then you may like the fact that you cld reclaim Payment Protection Insurance on a loan if you have ever had one, If you were self employed when you signed its pretty easy as you could most likely not have claimed. see http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/ppi-loan-insurance.

    Well done for sticking at what you knew!:thumbup1:
    Regards,

    Burg
  • mark130273
    mark130273 Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 4,234
    tell them to shove it up the *rses !!!!!!!!!!!

    hahahahahahaha
  • A-Vic
    A-Vic Expertise Guaranteed Registered Posts: 6,970
    Also you have to take in to account yes the original debt may have been £50 but by the time the fee's and costs on top as well as collection fee's add a zero or two - funny thing is they dont mention this -
  • mark130273
    mark130273 Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 4,234
    but its just more for them to stick up their A*ses


    hahahahha
  • Gem7321
    Gem7321 Experienced Mentor DevonMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,438
    mark130273 wrote: »
    tell them to shove it up the *rses !!!!!!!!!!!

    hahahahahahaha

    Because that's bound to work.
  • mark130273
    mark130273 Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 4,234
    well maybe not ? but its keeps me going when people ask me for money ?
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    mark130273 wrote: »
    well maybe not ? but its keeps me going when people ask me for money ?

    Mark; are you actually capable of giving an intelligent answer sometimes? I know the forum's are often light hearted but this doesn't apply to every single thread on here and surely you can tell the ones apart where you can be flippant or not?
  • mark130273
    mark130273 Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 4,234
    ooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh sorry robert ? well this chat ? no accounts ?
  • Buff
    Buff Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 275
    I really should read before giving my advice ....
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