Are Credit Style Debt Collectors hassling you to pay back an outstanding debt? Are you unable to pay the money back? Maybe you don’t even recognise the debt! If you find yourself in these circumstances, you should read on to find out how to get out of your situation!
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsmen have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Who are Credit Style?
Credit Style Limited also trade as CST Law. They’re authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under registration number 639830. They are primarily known for collection of debt.
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I’ve received a letter demanding payment. What do I do next?
If you’re in debt then the most important thing is not to bury your head in the sand. Many people in debt hide the fact from their families and friends – and even themselves – often in the hope it’ll simply go away. Unfortunately, it won’t.
If you’ve received a letter from Credit Style then this guide is here to help and to give you advice on what you should do next, depending on your personal circumstances.
Remember, debt is nothing to be ashamed of – and you’re certainly not alone. According to a survey conducted by Money.co.uk, more than half of UK consumers (so almost 27 million people) started 2020 in debt. Out of those, almost 5 million owed in excess of £10,000.00!
Credit Style keep ringing me – what should I do?
If you receive a call from Credit Style then it’s advisable to speak to them as soon as possible, even if you’ve not had time to take advice or consider the best way forward.
If you’d prefer to be contacted via a different method (for example, by letter or email) then you should advise them of this as soon as possible. Often, of course, phone calls can be somewhat intrusive and it can sometimes be difficult to talk. Credit Style will understand this; but until you speak to them and make this known then they won’t be able to help.
Will someone turn up at my house? If so, how I stop that from happening?
Credit Style won’t turn up at your house unless they really have to – which is why it’s important to engage with them as soon as possible. What’s more, NO debt collector is entitled to enter your home – only certified bailiffs are able to do that and they must have a County Court Judgment against you. Bailiffs will never turn up at your home without one and you should always ask to see ID.
In this guide we’ll look at ways to avoid having a County Court Judgment (or ‘CCJ’) registered against you and therefore avoid any type of enforcement action being taken.
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What might Credit Style do if I don’t get back in touch with them?
If you don’t get in touch with Credit Style then the chances are they’ll issue legal proceedings for recovery of the outstanding amount. This will then increase the balance due as it’ll also include any legal fees, the Court issue fee and interest (which can be claimed at 8% per annum under s.69 of the County Court Act 1984, up until the date of Judgment or earlier payment, whichever is the soonest).
If you’ve been late in making payments, they’ll also make an entry on your credit file which means future lenders will be able to see your repayment history and trends. This stays on file for a period of 6 years and could make it difficult (if not impossible) for you to obtain credit during that time.
For more details about the issue of legal proceedings please see the section entitled: “What’s the debt recovery process?”
I don’t believe I owe this debt – what can I do?
If you don’t believe you owe the amount being claimed then it’s important to contact Credit Style as soon as possible. If necessary, ask them for evidence of the debt and/or a copy of the agreement you’ve allegedly entered into with your creditor (i.e. their client). You’re entitled to receive a copy of any loan agreement under sections 77-79 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Please be aware that you may have to pay a small fee of £1.00 for a copy of it but, if they can’t produce it, then they can’t pursue the debt against you.
Remember, never be afraid to ask for evidence of the debt – especially if you don’t believe it’s outstanding. Mistakes can (and do) happen!
Will I be able to enter into a repayment plan?
If you’re unable to pay the outstanding debt in full then you should be able to enter into a repayment plan with Credit Style.
In order to ascertain how much you might be able to repay, you should prepare a list of your income and outgoings so that you can evidence where your money goes each month. This will also provide you with an indication of your ‘disposable income’ i.e. an amount which could be used to start repaying the debt.
In some cases, your creditor may agree to such repayments but request that it be secured under a County Court Judgment. This means that, should you default on the arrangement, then they’ll be able to enforce it.
For more information about enforcement, please see our section entitled: “If I get a County Court Judgment against me, how can it be enforced?”
Are there any ways to avoid paying this debt?
If the money is owed then there aren’t usually too many ways to avoid repaying it (unless you can prove you don’t owe it – please see our section entitled: “I don’t believe I owe this debt – what can I do?”)
One exception to the rule is if the debt is over six years old and:
- You haven’t admitted liability for the debt during that period of time;
- You haven’t made any payment towards it and
- The creditor hasn’t already secured a County Court Judgment against you.
In this scenario then your debt is likely to be ‘time barred’ under provision of the Limitation Act 1980 and you won’t have to repay it.
This debt is one of many – what can I do?
Do be sure to include any reference number in your communication to them, so that your response can be dealt with as quickly as possible. However, never provide your bank details via unsecure means (e.g. via email or post).
If you have more than one debt then there are a number of options you might want to consider. These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Taking out a consolidation loan (i.e. putting all your debts into just one loan so you only have to worry about making one monthly payment).
- Entering into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (‘IVA’) (or a Scottish Trust Deed if you live in Scotland). This is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. For more advice about IVA’s please see our section entitled: “Where can I go for advice?”
- Entering into a Debt Relief Order (‘DRO’) – these are usually better for those with debt levels under £20,000.00. Again, you’ll need to take specialist advice before entering into such an arrangement as they have to be taken out through an approved intermediary.
Will I lose my home?
By engaging with Credit Style from the onset it’s unlikely that you’ll lose your home. However, if your debt is substantial and you fail to make a satisfactory arrangement, Credit Style could obtain a County Court Judgment against you and then secure it against any property you might own. This is known as a ‘Charging Order’.
If your property is in joint names then your creditor will only be able to take out a Charging Order against your interest in it.
Will this debt be recorded on my credit file and if so, for how long?
If you’re in debt then it’ll most likely be reflected on your credit file (since most companies will record any missed payments and so on). There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK, namely:
All agencies have a statutory obligation to provide details of your credit report completely free of charge so it’s advisable to check it from time to time. If you think information has been placed on there in error you can apply to have it amended or removed. Remember, any lending decisions will be based on this information so it’s important to get it right.
Details of any defaults or missed payments etc. will remain on your credit file for a period of 6 years.
Will I have to go to Court?
If you engage with Credit Style from the outset you should hopefully be able to avoid going to Court.
Matters relating to debt are conducted by the County Court (and very often, an online service known as the County Court Money Claims Centre).
If legal proceedings are issued against you, you may be able to access their free mediation service which means you won’t have to attend at Court. This is at the Court’s discretion and appointments are offered depending on availability.
If you do have to attend Court then it’s advisable to take legal representation with you (although you don’t have to and can represent yourself in person).
What’s the debt recovery process?
The basic process is as follows:
- In the event that an arrangement hasn’t been possible, Credit Style will issue a formal letter of claim to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. This letter will set out the details of their claim and request payment.
- If you fail to respond to the letter of claim then Credit Style may decide to issue legal proceedings against you. This is done using an N1 Claim Form with supporting ‘particulars of claim’. The Court will send the claim to you and you’ll be given a period of 21 days within which to respond.
- If you respond, your response will be considered by the Court. You may, for example, make an offer of payment (which may, or may not, be accepted by your creditor). If it gets accepted then it’s likely your offer will be secured under a County Court Judgment. If it gets rejected, then the case may proceed to Court and/or mediation (please see our section entitled: “Will I have to go to Court?”)
- If you fail to respond then it’s likely that Credit Style will request that Judgment be payable “forthwith”. This means that you’ll be required to pay the outstanding amount in full, straight away (including all associated legal costs, the Court issue fee and interest). This can then be enforced (please see our section entitled: “If I get a County Court Judgment against me, how can it be enforced?”
If I get a County Court Judgment against me, how can it be enforced?
If Credit Style are successful in obtaining a County Court Judgment against you then there are various methods of enforcement available to them including:
- County or High Court Bailiffs (who can attend at your home)
- Charging Order (i.e. an order secured against any property you might own)
- Attachment of Earnings Order (i.e. deductions are taken directly from your salary)
- Third party debt order (where your bank account could be frozen)
Credit Style can be contacted:
Where can I go for advice?
If you’ve found yourself in debt there are lots of places you can go to for advice:
Remember, there’s plenty of help and you’re not on your own.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”-Nelson Mandela-