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Debt collection and debts in general are a pretty massive business nowadays. It’s estimated that around half the adults in the UK have some sort of debt, and the debt collection business is a multi-million-pound business. There are so many different terms and legislations surrounding debt collection, so it can get really confusing about what you should do next. 

One of the terms they might use in their letters to you, especially if you have been sitting on a debt for a while, is to tell you that the debt is now assigned to a CAIS member. What does this mean? Read on to find out what to do, and how to go about dealing with this issue.

Debt assigned to a CAIS member – where to start

If you’ve received a letter about an outstanding debt claiming that your debt has been assigned to a CAIS member, you might be wondering what that means. We’ll break it down for you here.

Debt Assigned

When they say ‘debt assigned’, this effectively means that your debt or account has been sold on to a debt collector. The original creditor will record the status of your account as being ‘debt assigned’, which basically reflects that the debt has been assigned, or sold, to another company.

This means that moving on, you will now have to negotiate with a debt collection agency instead of the original creditor. Lenders like to get their money back, but often they don’t have the resources to continue chasing you to get this back, and so they often outsource to debt collection agencies. 

If you have a debt described as ‘debt assigned to CAIS member’, then you will have no further dealings with the original creditor. The original creditor may mark the debt as ‘settled’ – but this doesn’t mean it has been written off. In their eyes, you no longer owe the money to them, but you now owe the debt collection agency, or CAIS member. But what does CAIS stand for?

CAIS member

If you have a letter declaring ‘debt assigned to CAIS member’, you may be rightly wondering who or what a CAIS member is. CAIS stands for Consumer or Credit Account Information Sharing. 

This is the name given to the shared database of credit history that is maintained by Experian. Experian is one of the four main Credit Reference Agencies in the UK. They supply Credit Reports to lenders and other companies to keep them informed about your financial status.

You may be wondering how or why they are getting this information. This information is shared with your consent and is often required whenever you apply for credit. This results in the companies affiliated with Experian can make a better-informed decision about you.

Why do creditors assign/sell debts?

We all forget about debts or let some of those important ones slip through the cracks. When this happens, our creditors will assign your debt to someone else. Creditors specialise in lending money and collecting it and don’t have much experience in chasing debts which are in arrears. 

Debts that are regulated by the Consumer Credit Act can be sold or assigned to another company at any time after you stop paying. Your original creditor will let you know if they have done this, and you’ll also get a letter from the debt collection agency advising that you now have debt assigned to CAIS member.

Next steps

Now we have the basics down, and we now know what debt assigned to CAIS member actually means, we can take the next steps in dealing with the debt you owe. 

Debts and debt collection can be really stressful and upsetting things to deal with, but with a little bit of forward planning, a cool head, and an active mindset, you will be able to deal with the CAIS member, or debt collection agency, quickly and easily.

Be active

Once you have found out you now have debt assigned to CAIS member, you’ll want to see what you can do to sort it out. Be sure to get in touch with them, and let them know your situation. By doing this, you will hopefully stop them from pressuring you into making payments.

Gather information

Once you know your debt has been assigned to a CAIS member, you’ll want to go through all the correspondence you might have received from the original creditor and the new debt collection agency. Double-check any of the amounts you can see, and make sure that they match.

Don’t ignore them

Ignoring a debt collection agency if you’ve had your debt assigned to CAIS member will not make them go away. Debt collectors are notoriously persistent, and they will continue to send you letters and call you. If you reach out to them before they have a chance to bombard you, you’ll be on the front foot and you’ll be able to sort out your debt quicker.

Prove the debt

If you’re uncertain as to whether you owe the amount they say you do, you can ask them to prove the debt using a ‘Prove the Debt’ letter. You can find some great ‘Prove the Debt’ letter templates on MoneyNerd. This will require them to prove that your debt assigned to CAIS member is legitimate and you do owe it. 

Statute-barred debts

Sometimes debt assigned to CAIS members will be very old debts that you might have entirely forgotten about. These may even be so old that the debts can no longer legally be collected. Often with common personal debts, there is a time limit on how long they can be collected for, which is usually 6 years. It’s worth checking whether your debt assigned to CAIS member is statute-barred, as you may not have to pay them at all.

Pay them

If you are certain that the debt is yours, and it isn’t statute-barred, and you have the necessary funds to pay them, you should do exactly that. This will stop them from sending any further letters or making any further calls about your debt assigned to CAIS members. If you can’t afford to pay them in full, you should get in touch with them and explain your situation. They may agree to a repayment scheme, where you pay back the sum in instalments.

Signing off

So if you have a debt assigned to CAIS member, you now know what you should do. It may seem confusing, but with a bit of careful thought, you can sort it all out quickly and easily. 

Debt collection agencies can be quite heavy-handed with their dealings with customers, so if you feel like you want to complain, you absolutely should. Get in touch with them first of all, and if they don’t respond, then you should escalate 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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