Are you being harassed by Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors about an outstanding debt? Do you owe money but you are not in a position to repay it? Do you not recognise the debts or perhaps you think you have already paid it off? Are you being threatened about court action? If any of these questions are relevant to you or you have similar concerns, this article is designed to help you.
It’s not your fault. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Deal with your debt today and feel better tomorrow.
Who are Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors?
Dukes Bailiffs is a national debt collection agency in the UK. The company assists in the recovery of unpaid invoices as well as commercial rate and High Court enforcements. The company was established in 1993.
Don’t worry, here’s what to do
You could get rid of debt collectors by writing off your debt. I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator which will tell you if you’re eligible:
What is the reason for the contact from Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors?
You mind not understand the extent of the debt collection business – it is huge. Debt collectors like Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors come in several shapes and forms,with many debt collection agencies acting as an independent business, with others being a business arm of the original creditor (who you have the original debt with) such as a credit card company, a bank or another financial institution. You can even find individual sole trader debt collectors.
Independent debt collection agencies and sole trader debt collectors rely on a business model which involves purchasing debt at a fraction of its face value, quite often as little as 20% of the face value, and they make a profit by collecting all or some of the debt. They often don’t care much about your circumstances. As far as they are concerned it is you who ran up the debt and you should repay it. They do not generally want to find out about your hardships. They may not be particularly nice, and may resort to unfair practices to get you to pay up. The Office for Fair Trading (OFT, 2010) said that poor practices among debt collectors “appear to be widespread”.
Do you really owe this debt?
The first thing to find out is whether you actually owe the debt? If you don’t recognise the debt, you should get some information on where it originated and how much you really owe. It is highly likely that the original debt is different to the original charge, as various charges and interest may have been added. It could be substanitally more than the value of the loan you took out.
If you want to find out more about the debt, you can write to Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors and request that they send you a copy of your original credit agreement. If they tell you they will not be able to provide this, or they refuse to pay it, you can stop payments and there is nothing else they can do. It is their responsibility to provide you with the proof of the debt you owe.
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Is all this information starting to feel overwhelming? Don’t panic! I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator so you can quickly and easily find the best solution for you. If you’re eligible for the new government scheme, you could write off up to 85% of your debt! Answer the four questions now.
What if you don’t want to pay?
There is no such thing as ‘I don’t want to pay the debt’, it is your debt, therefore, you have a responsibility to pay it back. If the debt is yours, the best way to deal with it is to repay the debt if you have the funds to afford it. However, if you can’t afford to repay it, or if paying it would prevent you from taking care of other payments, such as your rent or mortgage, then you can make a payment arrangement with Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors. They may even accept a partial payment to close off the debt.
How debt collectors can make your life worse
Unfortunately, it seems to be commonplace for debt collectors to use a range of questionable tactics to try and get you to pay the debt, even some which are against the law. The tactics often include putting you under pressure to pay debt, even when you can’t really afford it, or bullying/harassing you into paying up.
If you are being hassled by Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors, it could be highly detrimental to your life, even causing you emotional distress, mental illness, and even suicide. According to research from the debt support trust, almost as much as 50% of people who struggle with debt at some point, will consider suicide. It was also recently reported that a coroner raised concerns over the practices of debt collection agencies, as a result of the suicide of a debt-ridden courier. In their report into mental health and the credit industry (Walker et al, 2012) researchers from Brighton University concluded: “Debt clients frequently feel humiliated, disconnected and entrapped, with the process of debt collection having a clear impact on people’s mental health”. As a result, the government were called upon to take tough action on these companies, which they done.
Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors and the law
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT, 2012) has put a set of guidelines in place for the debt collection business. In summary, there rules state that, Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors should:
- Treat debtors in a fair way and should not use aggressive practices or any other actions which make the debtor feel under pressure or embarrassed.
- Be transparent with all information and ensure it is clear and not confusing or misleading
- Show consideration towards debtors experiencing difficulty and be empathetic to their situation
- Taking the debtors circumstances into account, before determining what to do next.
If you are being hassled by Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors who are failing to adhere to these guidelines, then you may have a good case for reporting them to the OFT. In the worse case scenario, they may revoke their license.
To make a complaint about Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors, you can use this online complaint form.
Some debt collectors may even say they are an external agency when in fact they are a part of the company you owe the money to. This is a clear case of deceit, though they will probably claim that this information is featured in the small print.
Understanding how Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors operates
If you understand the way in which debt collection agencies operate, you will be in a better position to be able to deal with them. These are some useful facts about debt collectors:
They are on a bonus
The Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors agents who keep phoning you will probably be highly incentivised and are expected to collect a set amount of money per hour, otherwise they will face questions. There will usually be daily and monthly bonuses and each collection they make, will contribute to that bonus. This is why they will do anything in their power to collect some money rather than record a “No Payment.” This will go some way to explaining their persistence to get the payment.
The thing to remember here is that if you stay strong and stand up to the threats from Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors, knowing that most of these threats are empty, you may be able to turn the tables. Try to keep them talking, but don’t pay unless you can afford to.
They may use automated call technology
You might be tempted to not bother answering calls from Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors, but if you do this, you might find that the agency just employs automated call technology that will try to phone you as often as every half hour, until you eventually pick up the phone. Sometimes if you do pick up the call it may even be silent, as they want to intimidate you into paying up.
If this does happen to you, you should take a note the frequency of the calls. Behaviour like this on behalf of the debt collectors is a clear breach of the OFT guidelines. Tell the agent that you plan to report them to the Financial Ombudsman.
You can contact the Financial Ombudsman is by phone on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
Bad cop, good cop
Bad cop, good cop is a tactic frequently used by debt collectors and it can often prove to be highly effective. When you are faced with an approach like this, you are likely to be faced with relentless calls, some of which may be abusive and harassing, but with the occasional polite and friendly contact. This switch in attitude can happen in just one phone call. The agent starts off politely, but they soon change attitude when they realise that you can’t make a payment. They may even be abusive at time. Relentless calls are fairly common too. The combined process is designed to try to wear you down, to make you reach breaking point so that you just pay up to get some peace!
It can be difficult to stand up to such behaviour, which is the reason why they employ it in the first place. But again, you should be strong and try to deal with it in the best way possible. Report it to the OFT using this online complaint form if you feel that they are failing to follow the guidelines.
What if they are speaking to third parties?
If someone apart from you picks up the phone, then the agents may attempt to embarrass you by speaking about your debt and financial problems with someone else; anyone who answers the phone. This may be a family member at your home, or it could even be someone at your workplace. This is definitely illegal behaviour and it is a breach of the OFT guidelines, as well as other privacy laws.
You can report this behaviour to the Financial Ombudsman on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
Deceit and lies
If nothing else is working, debt collectors may go to extreme lengths in an attempt to get the payment from you, and may even apply some nasty tactics, which fall short of the law. They may say they are calling from the court, that they are a bailiff and they are making plans to visit your home to take away your possessions, or they may even threaten you with criminal prosecution. It’s hard to believe that debt collectors would use this form of tactic to try to get you to pay up, but it’s more common that most of us would ever believe.
You should never allow them to visit you and if they do then you can refuse them entry into your home. If they continue to threaten you, do not hesitate to call the police and inform them.
Don’t let them get you down
As we know, debt collectors such as Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors can be relentless pursuit to get their money in doing so, their behaviour could even be responsible for causing poor mental health and even suicide in some cases. There is no doubt that standing up to Dukes Bailiffs Debt Collectors is difficult, and it requires strength and courage that can be difficult for a lot of people to muster up. Don’t despair though, there is help out there for those who need it. The main point is that you need to get out of debt, but you need to do this in a way that will cause you the least amount of pain and distress. Debt problems often seem like there is no way out, but there is always a way to solve your debt issues.
Do you need help with your debt?
If you are facing debt problems, you may feel embarrassed and distressed, but you should know that there are lots of different types of help with debt available for this common problem. There are not-for-profit agencies who can provide one-to-one help and support, and there are commercial debt management companies who will provide a service, but with a charge. Obviously, the free debt help is the one to try first, and then the commercial agencies if you can’t get the desired help you need. Some of the agencies who offer free debt help and support include:
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can offer extensive help with debt and may be able to stop debt collectors from contacting you if you are able to prove that you are getting help with your debt problems, and that you are trying to repay any debts you have.
- Christians Against Poverty (CAP) provide free debt help.
- StepChange provides free online debt advice helping people take charge of their debt.
Why you might want to write off your debt
It is entirely possible for you to write off your debt by signing up to an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). This is a formal agreement that many debtors don’t know anything about, and with this, you would pay the debt collectors a specific amount you can afford as a one-off sum or you may prefer to pay in monthly installments, and the rest of the debt would be completely written off after a defined period, which would usually be five years. The process of an IVA, must be carried out by an insolvency practitioner.
Find a local licenced IVA insolvency practitioner here.
An alternative to an IVA is a Debt Relief Order (DRO). This is only available to certain people; those who have £50 or less each month after they have taken care of household expenses. In order to be eligible for this, you must not have other assets worth over £1000.
To apply for a DRO you will need to go through an authorised debt advisor. You can find a list of authorised debt advisors here.
Although there have been plenty of warnings from professional bodies, as well as government guidelines, and other measures to combat the behaviour of many debt collecting agencies, the problem still very much exists. Debt collectors are still hassling, and harassing debtors to the point of putting them on the brink of depression, and other mental health issues. It is possible to fight back against debt collectors though. You can’t just refuse to pay your debt, but you can spread repayments, and debt collectors should allow you to do so. You may be able to stop their bullying by reporting them to the Financial Ombudsman, and in some cases, they may even lose their licence.