There are all kinds of organisations involved in recovering debt. Whether it’s from a debt collection agency, solicitor, or enforcement agent, receiving a letter demanding money is never enjoyable.
However, it doesn’t have to bring you stress and anxiety. With a little know-how, you can deal with the problem head-on. We take a look at everything you need to know about Backhouse Solicitors debt recovery and how to deal with them.
Who are Backhouse Solicitors?
Backhouse Solicitors is a law firm based in Chelmsford, Essex and operating across the South East. They’ve been operating since 2005, with their debt recovery department opening in 2009. They work with all kinds of clients, from small businesses to multinational companies.
The firm trades under the name Backhouse Solicitors Limited, which is a private limited company first incorporated in August 2009. They’re not to be confused with Backhouse Jones Solicitors, a firm based in Barrow.
Why have they written to me?
It can come as a surprise when you receive a letter from a solicitor out of the blue. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever have heard of Backhouse before unless you’ve used them for legal representation in the past. So why are they writing to you?
As part of their debt recovery service, Backhouse works with businesses to recover unpaid money. So, if you have an outstanding debt with a company, they may have contacted the solicitors to get them to recover it.
Usually, companies only turn to third-party recovery services when they’ve exhausted all of their efforts. So, if you’ve missed or been avoiding calls and letters from a creditor, they could have resorted to calling in Backhouse Solicitors.
How can I contact them?
You can contact the firm on their website, as well as through several other means. Their address is Backhouse Solicitors Ltd, 71 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1JU. You can contact them on the phone on 01245 893400. As for Backhouse Solicitors opening hours, they are Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
Are they a legitimate debt collector?
It can sometimes be confusing to know whether or not a letter from a debt collector is real or not. Similarly, it’s not always easy to determine whether a company is legitimate. When it comes to Backhouse Solicitors, we can confirm that they are indeed a real company that can collect debts.
The firm is registered on Companies House with the company number 06990670. On the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register, they are registered as an exempt professional firm with the reference number LS 408098. Similarly, they’re authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) with the number 533174.
These last two points are particularly important. These professional bodies ensure that consumers are treated fairly and that firms follow certain rules of operation. It guarantees that Backhouse is a legitimate company, but also means you have certain protections.
What are Backhouse Solicitors Chelmsford reviews like?
Debt collection agencies often have a bad rep. Underhand tactics and shady practices mean that many people assume they’re bad news. However, when it comes to Backhouse Solicitors in Chelmsford, things are a little different.
On a variety of websites, the law firm has very positive reviews. On Google, they have a rating of 4.9 stars from 90 reviews. On Review Solicitors, they have five 5-star ratings and a 5-star review on Solicitor.info.
It’s worth noting that few of these reviews refer directly to the debt collection side of the business. However, it’s encouraging to see so many positive ratings from customers and clients.
What’s the difference between Backhouse Solicitors and a debt collection agency?
One of the questions that often asked is how different organisations work when it comes to recovering debts. As well as solicitors and debt collectors, there are also enforcement agents (bailiffs). With such a wide range of firms and powers, it’s sometimes hard to know where you stand.
To make things slightly clearer, we’ve outlined some of the major differences between the three types of companies:
- Debt collection agents. Their powers are essentially the same as the original creditor. They can ask you to repay the money, send you letters, add interest, and visit your property. However, that’s about the limit of what they can do, at least initially.
- Solicitors. At the start of the debt collection process, solicitors have the same powers as debt collection agents. However, they also have the legal sway and know-how to quickly progress things. So, if you don’t pay straight away, they can take you to court to force you to.
- Enforcement agents. Previously known as bailiffs, enforcement agents are called in when collection agencies and solicitors fail to reclaim the money. They can enter your home and take your possessions to cover the cost of the debt. In some circumstances, they can even force entry to your home.
What happens when I get a letter from Backhouse Solicitors?
So, you’ve received a letter in the post from Backhouse Solicitors saying you owe money. What should you do? It can be hard to know where the best place to start is. However, we’ve outlined some of the steps you might want to take in such a situation:
Should I ignore them?
It’s not surprising that people ask this question so often. After all, it may seem natural to just dispose of the letter and hope that they don’t send another one. However, it’s almost never the case that they give up after just one attempt; quite the opposite.
Ignoring Backhouse Solicitors shouldn’t be on your list of things to do. Quite likely, all that will happen is that the situation gets worse. You may end up owing more, and they may take further action against you to recover the money. Instead, you should take positive action to deal with them.
Many firms involved in debt collection work on the basis that they only get paid once the debt is cleared. As such, they will go to great lengths to make you pay. The last thing you want is for them to request a County Court Judgement against you.
Should I pay them?
When a debt collection letter comes through, the hope for the creditor is that you’ll be scared into paying what you owe straight away. It’s a reasonably effective tactic, as most people don’t want the stress and hassle of dealing with a solicitor. However, it’s not necessarily the right course of action, at least not straight away.
As we’ll explore further down, there are several other considerations to make when it comes to the debt. So, don’t just pay the amount on the letter in the hope to get it over and done with. Instead, spend some time researching the right thing to do based on your situation.
Can I stop them from contacting me?
One of the things that debt collectors are known for is how persistent they are. What starts with one letter or call can soon escalate to a frankly annoying level. Although there are some restrictions relating to how often and when they can try to reach you, on the whole, they’re pretty tenacious.
You can stop certain forms of contact with a firm such as Backhouse Solicitors. One of the best ways to do so is to send them your contact preferences. For example, you could ask that they only contact you by mail, and in which case, they’d have to stop calling you.
Another tactic is to dispute the debt or ask them to send you proof of what you owe. While this process goes on, they cannot keep contacting you asking you to pay. It’s a good way of getting some respite while you sort your affairs.
What rights do I have?
As well as the having to respect your contact preferences, debt collection agencies and solicitors have to abide by several other rules. These regulations are in place to protect you when it comes to trying to settle the matter. It’s worth mentioning these here, as you need to know where you stand:
- Harassment. Debt collection companies aren’t allowed to put undue pressure on you to repay your debt. They can’t use force to enter your home, and they must give you ‘breathing space’ if you seek help with your debt.
- Privacy. They cannot contact anyone else about your debt if you don’t give them permission beforehand. This includes people such as relatives, friends, and colleagues.
- Deception. They’re not allowed to send letters that look like court forms, and they can’t use technical language to try and confuse you. Similarly, they can’t pretend to have powers they don’t actually have.
- Fees. They can’t add excessive amounts of interest or fees to your debt. In addition, they can’t force you to take out another loan to pay back what you owe them.
What powers do they have?
Although you do have certain protections, there are some actions that debt collection solicitors like Backhouse can take against you. Early on in proceedings, they can only act in the same way as creditors. This means they can ask you to repay the money, write to you, call you, and even visit your home. But that’s about it.
However, if you continue to ignore their requests for repayment or don’t respond to say you’re disputing the debt, they can take matters further. Steps they can take include:
- Taking you to court. They can ask for a County Court Judgement (CCJ), which is essentially a demand from the courts that you pay the money back. It’s incredibly bad for your credit score, and best avoided if possible.
- Requesting bailiffs. If they’re successful with a CCJ, but you still don’t pay, they can ask for enforcement agents to be sent to your home. They can then take items from inside and outside your home (including your car) to sell. The money they make goes towards paying off your debt.
- Requesting bankruptcy. Sometimes, creditors will try and make you bankrupt. Essentially, this means that you will have to sell off property or assets to pay off your debts. It’s just about the worst thing possible for your credit score.
How to deal with Backhouse Solicitors
So, before you pay Backhouse Solicitors or your creditor, what steps should you take? Below, we’ve highlighted some of the things you’ll want to do before tackling the problem at hand:
Gather your information
If you’re going to contest the debt, you’ll need as much info as possible as you can on why. If you think you’ve already paid it back, things like bank statements and receipts can be useful. Similarly, the original agreement can bring a lot of clarity to proceedings.
Get them to prove the debt
Creditors must be able to provide evidence of exactly what you owe and why. If you ask them for proof and they can’t provide it, they can’t enforce the debt. So, make sure to write to them (check out a ‘prove the debt’ letter template online) and get them to send you the details they have.
Check if it’s statute-barred
Many types of unsecured debt such as credit cards, loans, and overdrafts, have what’s effectively an expiration date. After around six years of inactivity on your account, the debt becomes statute-barred, meaning there are no legal grounds for the creditor to reclaim it.
A debt may be statute-barred if you haven’t heard from or contacted the creditor about the debt for six years. During that time, you can’t have made a payment, and they can’t have issued a CCJ.
Can I write off Backhouse Solicitors debt?
There is a chance you’ll be able to write off some of your debt. The best way to do this is to apply for an individual voluntary arrangement. With this scheme, you can write off up to 90% of your debt. You pay a fixed amount each month for 60 months, and after that, any outstanding debts are written off.