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Can debt collectors find my new address? Quick Answer

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Scott
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Scott Nelson

Managing Director

MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.

Learn more about Scott
&
Janine
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Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.

Learn more about Janine
· Feb 27th, 2024
Could you legally write off some debt? Answer below to get started.

Total amount of debt?

This isn’t a full fact find, MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

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debt collectors find my new address

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

Getting a surprise letter from a debt collector can be scary. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. Each month, over 170,000 people come to our website for help with debt.

This article is here to answer your big questions:

  •  Can debt collectors find my new address? Yes, they can.
  •  What can I do about it? Many things! 

Research shows that 64% of UK adults find interactions with current debt collectors stressful1, so we understand how you feel.

But don’t worry; we’re here to guide you through your options, such as how to lower your payments, what to do if your debt is old, or if moving house could be a solution for you.

Let’s dive in!

Could you legally write off some debt?

There are several debt solutions in the UK, choosing the right one for you could write off some of your unaffordable debt, but the wrong one may be expensive and drawn out.

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find. MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

Can debt collectors find your new address?

In 2022, arrears on household bills increased by 68% from £1,739 to £2,9202. So, it’s common for people to struggle with debt. If you find yourself in this situation, you might be contemplating moving out. However, in an age where just about everything is digital, it’s easy for debt collectors to find you.

Although you might move multiple times, it’s likely that you’ll leave a trail when you do so.

So, even though moving might make it harder for a creditor or debt collection agency to find you, you’re probably only delaying the inevitable.

What’s more, as soon as they find your new contact details or address, they’ll start sending you letters again

There is another downside when it comes to trying to change your address. Once they finally catch up with you, you’ll also be liable for any extra collection fees and interest that they might charge. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Fill out the short debt form

How do creditors find you? 

There are all kinds of ways that creditors and debt collection agencies can track you down and find your new address.

For example, if you’ve taken out a car loan, they can check with the DVLA to track where you’ve registered your vehicle. Similarly, if it’s credit card debt, they can easily find the address that’s on file. 

Credit reference agencies have more information about you than you’d think.

Even if you move, there are plenty of ways that debt collectors can find your address. If you want to take out a mobile phone contract, for example, you will likely need a credit check and have a registered address.

Similarly, if you receive a paycheque or benefits, you will need a registered address, which can be used to track you.  

So, if you are thinking about avoiding debt collection, you need to know that it’s not a practical solution for your financial worries. You could try a debt solution or contacting a debt charity for some advice.

How a debt solution could help

Some debt solutions can:

  1. Stop nasty calls from creditors
  2. Freeze interest and charges
  3. Reduce your monthly payments

A few debt solutions can even result in writing off some of your debt.

Here’s an example:


Situation

Monthly income £2,504
Monthly expenses £2,345
Total debt £32,049

Monthly debt repayments

Before £587
After £158

£429 reduction in monthly payments

If you want to learn what debt solutions are available to you, click the button below to get started.

Get Started

Can you move and not tell your creditors? 

Of course, there is the potential for you to just up and move. Although this seems tempting, there are numerous downsides with this approach.

For a start, most credit reference agencies gather data from all kinds of places, including rent and utility bills. So, it will be hard for you to move anywhere in your name and hide from debt collectors.

Similarly, if you don’t have a credit record, you may find it hard to rent anywhere at all. 

Another downside is that you won’t be able to change jobs if you move and don’t tell creditors. Employers need to see identification documents and pay money into your bank account.

These will need to be tied to an address, which debt collectors can use to trace you. 

There could also be legal consequences of avoiding debt. Your case could escalate to the courts and a CCJ could be issued against you. This may eventually lead to bailiffs taking your goods to sell and clear your debt.

What about if your debt is statute-barred?

In some cases, if your debt is older than six years old and you haven’t heard anything from your creditors or made a payment in that time, it may be statute-barred. This effectively means that the debt is no longer legally enforceable.

However, you need to check whether this is the case for the money you owe – certain types of debt cannot expire. 

It’s also worth noting that, if a creditor has taken out a CCJ against you to chase the debt, it cannot be statute-barred. 

Typical Debt Collection Process

If debt collectors discover your new address, they’ll start sending letters or calling you. This is the initial stage of the debt collection process. However, as mentioned above, if you continue to ignore debt collectors, they can even file a CCJ against you.

We’ve created this simple table to help you understand the debt collection timeline. It’s important to be aware of this process to prevent any unwanted situations. If you’d like to learn more, please don’t forget to check out our detailed guide.

Stage Actions What you should do:
Missing one or two small payments Calls and letters from the debt collector asking for payment. They may enquire about reasons for missing payments. Contact the debt collector and offer to pay what you can. If you are struggling to pay the debt, get in touch with us to explore your options.
Missing large or multiple payments Their contact will become more frequent, urgent, and threatening. Contact the debt collection agency and offer to pay what you can. You may also make a complaint if you think the letters are a form of harassment.
Debt collector visit After a few months, if the debt is significant (£200+) you will receive notice of a debt collector visit. They have to notify you before arriving. Debt collectors cannot take anything from your home – they may only ask for payment. If a debt collector shows up at your home, ask them to show proof of the debt and their ID through a window. Do not open your door or let them in. You can arrange a payment plan with the debt collector, but make sure to get a receipt of this.
Court If you still do not pay your debts to the original lender/debt collector agency, they will take you to court and either attempt to:
– File a CCJ against you.
– File an attachment of earnings order.
– File a lawsuit against you.
You must show up to your court date. From here, you can either dispute the debt, or the judge will likely suggest a manageable repayment plan for you.

Moving and debt 

Some people feel that, if they have a lot of debt registered against one name or address, they can simply move house and hope that the issue goes away.

In some circumstances this can appear to work – the new owners/tenants of the house might get a letter about your debts, making the trail seem to go cold. However, things are rarely this straightforward. 

The amount of information that credit reference agencies have on you makes it practically impossible to avoid your debts, even if you move house. This means that the debt collection process could only be slighlty delayed by you moving house – not stopped entirely!

So, even if you don’t leave a forwarding address, your bank account, mobile phone contracts, car insurance, or even utility bills mean that your information will be available somewhere.

Some people also assume that you can move abroad to avoid your debts. This isn’t true either!

There are lots of debt collection agencies that operate internationally or cooperate with other countries. It really is essentially impossible to hide forever!

Keep in mind that you may have to go through the debt collection process in your current country, rather than in the UK. The UK has some legal protections for debtors that you aren’t guaranteed internationally!

Can you just change your name?

It may seem like simply changing your name can help you hide from debt collectors. However, changing your name on official documents is often a complex process.

You’ll need to apply for an official document, such as a deed poll. 

Even if you do change your name, this doesn’t mean that your debts simply go away. They are still yours no matter what you call yourself.

There are plenty of databases that keep hold of your details, and it’s often easy enough to link your old name to your new one. 

Can You be traced by debt collectors if You move to another country? 

Leaving the UK can make it harder for creditors and debt collection agencies to trace you.

Usually, information isn’t shared between countries when it comes to credit and debt. Your new credit records won’t be tied to your UK ones. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be traced. If you owe a lot of money, companies and specialist tracking organisations can be used to find you. They can then try everything possible to make you pay what you owe. 

What debt solutions are there?

Of course, there are other options other than trying to hide from debt collectors or creditors.

If you have debts that you are struggling to pay, you may benefit from a debt solution. There are several available in the UK, so we recommend getting some debt management advice to help you find the best one for you.

We have linked some charities at the bottom of the page that have specialist advisers who offer free debt counselling services.

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

A DMP is an informal debt solution. This means that it is not legally binding and you are not stuck with it for a minimum number of months.

During your DMP, you make a single payment that is shared among your debts. Generally, you will keep making payments as part of your DMP until you have paid off your debts.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) and Trust Deeds

If you owe several thousand pounds to more than one creditor and you have some disposable income every month, you may be eligible for an IVA.

An IVA is a legally binding agreement between you and your unsecured debt creditors. They agree not to chase you for your debts or contact you about them, and in return, you make a monthly payment that is distributed towards them.

An IVA will last 5 or 6 years. Once it is over, your remaining debts can be written off.

Trust Deeds are the closest thing to an IVA in Scotland. Thye work in the same way – you make an agreed monthly payment that is shared among your creditors, they don’t contact you, and your remaining debts can be wiped off at the end.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

If you have debts but no assets and little income, you could qualify for a DRO.

A DRO lasts for 12 months. During this time, your creditors can’t contact you and must freeze any interest on your debts. You don’t make any payments towards your DRO-approved debts for the duration of this year.

Your finances are then reassessed. If there has been no improvement, you may be able to write off any of your remaining debts.

Bankruptcy or Sequestration

Bankruptcy – or sequestration in Scotland – may be your last resort.

This debt solution is for those who have debts but no realistic possibility of ever paying them off. While there is a negative image associated with bankruptcy, it could be your only way of getting your creditors off your back and having a financial fresh start.

If you are in Scotland and have little income and few assets, you may wish to consider a minimal asset process (MAP).

A MAP is quicker, cheaper, and more straightforward than sequestration.

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FAQs

Can Bailiffs find my new address?
Yes. There are lots of methods which allow bailiffs to find you at your new address. This is why you should never try to ignore them.
How does a creditor know where you live?
The creditor knows where you live due to the information you provided them with when you first applied to use their service. They then are permitted to pass this info onto collectors.
What happens if there is nothing for bailiffs to take?
If bailiffs cannot retrieve payment for the debt owed then they will likely inform your creditor who will take court action against you in an attempt to make you insolvent.
Could you legally write off some debt?

There are several debt solutions in the UK, choosing the right one for you could write off some of your unaffordable debt, but the wrong one may be expensive and drawn out.

Answer below to get started.

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find. MoneyNerd doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options.

References

  1. Indebted Debt Collection Survey
  2. StepChange Personal Debt Statistics in Scotland 2022
The authors
Scott Nelson Profile Picture
Author
MoneyNerd’s founder, Scott Nelson, has a decade of financial industry experience, including 6 years in FCA regulated loan and credit card companies. Troubled by a lack of conscience in the industry, he founded MoneyNerd to give genuine advice to those in debt and struggling financially.
Janine Marsh Profile Picture
Debt Expert
Janine Marsh is an award-winning presenter and a valuable member of the MoneyNerd team. With a wealth of experience as a financial expert, she's been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Local Radio, and BBC Five Live, and is a regular on Co-op Radio.