Debt collection agencies have received a fairly bad reputation over the last few years.

With unscrupulous tactics, threatening behaviour, and other scandals, people are right to be wary of letters demanding money. It doesn’t always end well for such companies, as we’ll see with Northern Debt Recovery, a now-defunct debt collection agency with ties to payday loans and a bailiff agency.

We take a look at everything you need to know about Northern Debt Recovery, and how to deal with similar companies. 

Northern Debt Recovery

Who is Northern Debt Recovery?

Northern Debt Recovery was a debt collection agency that was dissolved in 2013 after administrators were called in. It’s not easy to find information about the firm – their Companies House page no longer exists, and neither does their website.

However, it’s possible to find some details about them. For example, it appears that they were also known as NDR and were a Sheffield-based debt collection agency. Despite the name, they did not perform debt recovery in Northern Ireland, nor were they part of Northern Rock’s debt recovery team.

What other names do they use?

There are several other names associated with Northern Debt Recovery. Again, many of these trading names/companies are now also closed down. According to one article, some of the associated names included Toothfairy Finance,, and Some forum posts also indicate that Speed Credit was another name used by the company.

In addition to these payday lending companies, there are also links between Northern Debt Recovery Limited and Marshall Hoares Bailiffs. These two were associate companies, often operating in tandem. Although both held a Consumer Credit Licence, neither company exists any more. 

What happened to Northern Debt Recovery?

The story of what happened to Northern Debt Recovery and associated businesses seems fairly complex. It appears as if the payday lender, debt collection, and bailiff companies were all closed down after they were reported to the Office of Fair Trading.

A formal investigation was launched after a variety of consumer complaints against the companies. The company eventually went into administration in November 2013, with all of the companies surrendering their licences to operate.

There were several issues found during the investigation against Northern Debt Recover. These included:

  • Continuing to take substantial payments from borrower’s accounts even after debts were paid off.
  • Staff harassing customers with abusive and aggressive behaviour, including repeated telephone calls and messages.
  • Pretending to have powers they didn’t, including being a bailiff able to seize customer’s belongings.
  • Not accepting payment plans proposed by those in debt.

As we’ll see, these breach many of the rules and regulations outlined by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Was Northern Debt Recovery a real company?

Given how serious the claims were against Northern Debt Recovery and its associated companies, questions must be asked about where or not they were a legitimate business in the first place. Again, the answers aren’t clearly found, as details are scarce.

Although it doesn’t exist anymore, the Companies House page URL seems to suggest that the firm was registered with the number 06956396. The other Northern Debt Recovery contact number and details are listed below:

  • Northern Debt Recovery phone number: 0843 381 0843
  • Northern Debt Recovery address: PO Box 155, Sheffield, S98 1HX, United Kingdom

We couldn’t find a Northern Debt Recovery email address or any other contact details. We also searched the FCA register to see whether any of the companies still have details, but we were unable to find any.

What happens if I receive a letter from Northern Debt Recovery?

It’s unlikely that you’ll receive a letter from Northern Debt Recovery these days. The company has been out of business for at least seven years, and they have no registration with Companies House or the FCA register. However, there is a chance for spam or scam emails and letters to come through.

If you do receive a letter from Northern Debt Recovery, you should report it to the FCA immediately. It’s unlikely that any debts they mention are actually real. Most likely, it’s an attempt to extort money out of someone they think is vulnerable.

What’s the difference between a bailiff and a debt collector?

One of the issues with Northern Debt Recovery is that it appears they were pretending to be a bailiff when they actually weren’t. It’s not even clear whether Marshall Hoares Bailiffs was even actually legitimate. So why does this matter? Well, there are some fairly big differences when dealing with a bailiff versus a debt collector.

Debt collectors are called in when a company is struggling to recover a debt they’re owed. So, if you owe money to a company and they’ve been chasing you for a while, they might resort to calling in a debt collection agency. This agency doesn’t have any extra powers initially, but their name often scares people into paying.

A bailiff, on the other hand, is usually a court-appointed agent that can take steps to recover outstanding debts. They’re now officially known as enforcement agents, although the term bailiff is still widely used. These agents can enter your home and take your property.

What rights do I have when dealing with a bailiff?

Despite their intimidating reputation, the FCA outlines certain rules and regulations that bailiffs have to follow. These rules protect your rights and mean that the situation gets resolved as peacefully as possible.

You are entitled to ask a bailiff to show you ID. You can check whether they’re a certified agent on the bailiff register, as well as whether they’re a high court enforcement officer.  If they intend to force entry to your home, you also have the right to ask for the necessary warrant or document. You don’t have to let them into your property to check these details.

Bailiffs cannot break down your door, barge past you, or smash through your windows. In the event that they do have authority to enter your home, they must do so with ‘reasonable force’, such as by employing a locksmith.

What action can a bailiff take?

Despite there being several restrictions on what bailiffs cannot take, there are certain steps they are allowed to. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Visit and enter your property. They usually have to give at least seven days’ notice of such a visit, and they must have the appropriate paperwork to hand.
  • Take your possessions. If you refuse to pay them or to a payment agreement, they’re able to take things from inside and outside your home. This includes things like your car, spare cash, and luxury items.
  • Force entry. For certain debts, the court grants bailiffs permission to force entry to your home.
  • Add charges. Bailiffs can add interest and fees for collecting your debt. However, the fees are closely regulated, so it’s worth knowing what they can charge you.

How should I deal with a debt collector like Northern Debt Recovery?

Although it’s unlikely you’ll receive a letter or visit from Northern Debt Recovery themselves, there are plenty of other debt recovery services that are out there. So what should you do if you receive contact from one? Below, we’ve outlined some of the actions you might want to consider:

Don’t panic

We understand how alarming it can be if you receive a debt collection letter out of the blue. Your first thought might be to simply bin it and hope the problem gets sorted by itself. You should absolutely not do this.

Your first action should be to calmly gather any information you can about the issue. If you have things like the original repayment agreement and bank statements, this can help you deal with the problem head-on. Remember to also note down any actions you take, any calls you make, and when you do so.

Check the debt status

There are a couple of factors to consider here. The first thing is whether or not the debt is statute-barred. This means that the timeframe for the creditor to collect the debt has expired, as outlined in the Limitations Act 1980. This applies to unsecured debts that:

  • Haven’t had any action taken on them for at least six years. This includes contact from or to the original creditor.
  • A payment hasn’t been made in the last six years.
  • The creditor hasn’t issued a CCJ against you.

If all of these apply, the debt might not be legally enforceable. However, the creditor can still ask you to pay it, and it may appear on your credit file.

The other issue to consider is whether or not the creditor can prove the debt exists. If the debt isn’t statute-barred, you can send a ‘prove the debt’ letter to the creditor.

Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.

While they’re in the process of providing this proof, they can’t contact you asking you to pay. Similarly, if they can’t offer proof, they have no legal grounds to recover it. You can search for a template for this letter online.

Contact them

If your debt isn’t statute-barred and the creditor has provided proof that it exists, your best bet is to contact them directly. Whether you think there is a mistake or you’re hoping to make a payment arrangement, it’s always better to reach out to them before they chase you down.

You can check the original debt collection letter to determine whether or not you still owe the original creditor or whether an agency has purchased the debt.

Although they’re persistent when chasing money, debt collection agencies have to be understanding if you’re struggling with your finances. So, if you can’t pay the full amount all at once, they’ll usually accept an offer of repayment in instalments.

What happens if I refuse to pay my debt?

Everyone must pay back what they owe eventually. Whether you pay all at once or in small increments, it has to be done. If you refuse to pay back the money, there are a series of punishments that can be handed down. Let’s look at the steps companies will usually take when you refuse to pay your debt:

  • They will employ a debt collection agency or a solicitor to chase the debt for them. This can certainly be annoying, even though they don’t have any extra powers at this point.
  • They will apply for a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you. A CCJ is essentially a demand from the courts that you pay back what you owe.
  • They request that the bailiffs be sent. Bailiffs have the power to recover goods from your home equal to the amount you owe.
  • They appeal for bankruptcy against you. If this happens, you’ll have to sell off any assets you have to cover the amount of the debt.
  • They take you to court. If you’re taken to court, you’ll have to demonstrate why you’re not paying. If you keep refusing, you could face jail time.

As you can see, you’ll still have to pay one way or another, and this isn’t a route you want to go down.

Where can I get help dealing with debt?

Rather than refusing to pay your debts, you could seek out some help managing and paying them. Thankfully, there are a few options you can choose from here:

  • Get help from Citizens Advice. If you’re dealing with debt collectors and aren’t sure what to do, Citizens Advice can give help over the phone and in-person.
  • Turn to a debt charity. Debt charities such as StepChange and National Debtline offer resources and support to help you deal with your debt. 
  • Look for a financial solution. You could try and get an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) or a debt consolidation loan to try and help you manage your finances.
Northern Debt Recovery

Northern Debt Recovery Complaints

It seems as if most of the complaints against Northern Debt Recovery have been dealt with long ago. But what if you are struggling with another debt collection agency? Well, you can complain formally and in writing against them. If they don’t resolve the matter, you can refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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