Debt Collection Hassle

Below is an article written by Allan Donovan on the subject of debt collection hassle.

Recent instructions from some private clients marked a departure from my recent mainstay of public procurement law and planted me firmly back into the more general commercial arena of consumer debt protection.

My clients, a retired couple, had been receiving telephone calls and letters from a debt recovery agency for many months about an alleged debt that had nothing to do with them. In spite of numerous assurances that they were not the person the debt collectors were looking for with offers of proof to support their assertion, the demands became ever more frequent and ever more threatening. Threats of court proceedings and liability for costs were the final straw for my clients and I was instructed to take charge of the matter.

The background is that my clients were a Mr (JH)D and a Mrs (JR)D. Their eldest son shared the same Christian name as Mr D (senior) with his initials being (JS)D. The son had, for a very short period of time, moved back into his parent's house and lived there until he departed the UK to take up residency abroad. He had mail delivered to my client's address whilst living there and my clients continued to receive his mail after he had left the UK. A familiar picture no doubt, and readers will not be surprised to learn that it was in fact the son that the debt recovery agencies were trying to contact.

I duly wrote to the agency reiterating all of the information that my clients had previously given them many times before. I confirmed that proof could be provided should they so desire, to show that my clients had nothing to do with the alleged indebtedness and invited the agency to contact me if they required further assurance. On the basis that they had been given sufficient information to be satisfied that they were contacting the wrong individuals I suggested that it would be unreasonable to continue writing to or telephoning my clients and any further contact would be considered a breach of section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970. I also pointed out that further contact with my clients would result in a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading, the body that regulates the consumer credit licences that all debt recovery agencies must hold.

Needless to say, the debt collectors ignored my letter and my clients received yet another telephone call at 8am one morning followed by yet further threatening correspondence. I wrote to the OFT setting out the facts and queried whether, given the circumstances, this particular agency could be said to satisfy the "fit and proper person" test which is a prerequisite to the granting of a consumer credit licence.

Having sent a copy of that letter to the agency concerned I am now happy to report that my clients have since enjoyed a blissful respite from threatening letters and telephone calls.

I will be looking at exactly what you can do if faced with a similar situation in another article.

Allan J. Donovan © 2009

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