Receiving an Empire Stores debt collection letter can send a shiver down your spine. Why have Empire Stores contacted me and why do I owe them money? These are two questions we answer in this guide.

Learn about your options when dealing with Empire Stores debt collection letters, here.

Empire Stores

Who Are Empire Stores?

Empire Stores is a company that provides a shopping catalogue to UK residents. Their catalogue sells clothing for men, women and children, as well as homeware items and gardening furniture and equipment.

These Empire Stores catalogues were extremely popular but have somewhat lost popularity since online shopping has revolutionised the consumer space. There is now an Empire Stores online catalogue available to cater to new buying demands.

So, How Do People Get into Empire Stores Debt?

The Empire Stores Catalogued can get people into debt. It is not easy to see how at first glance, but it is possible due to the Empire Stores payment plans and store credit card services.

Empire Stores help people pay for bigger purchases over a longer period and even offer a store credit card to spread out payments on some items.

For many families, these payment options are helpful, and the money gets paid back. But for other families, they struggle or forget to pay and get into debt. Just like this forum user explains:

“I have been contacted tonight by the above debt recovery agency stating that they are chasing me for an outstanding payment of £309 on an account set up 12 years ago at an address I haven’t lived at for the past 12 years. I categorically have never had an account with Empire Stores so someone may have set this up fraudulently in my name. Does this not fall within the Statute Barred category? If so what do I do next? How on earth would I ever go about proving this is not my debt? Are they required to provide me with a signed agreement? Is the onus of proof on me?”

[Consumer Action Group Forum]

This forum user asks two fantastic questions:

  1. Is their debt statute barred? The answer is most likely yes and they won’t have to pay!
  2. Are Empire Stores required to provide proof of the debt? Again, the answer is yes!

We’ll explain how to approach these situations during this Empire Stores debt collection guide.

How Empire Stores Debt Collection Works: Robinson Way Collection

Empire Stores is the company you may (or may not) owe money to. They could contact you directly to ask for the money to be paid, but it is more likely that you will be contacted by a debt collection agency on behalf of Empire Stores.

There have been multiple reports that Empire Stores debt recovery attempts will come from a debt collection agency named Robinson Way Debt Collection. This agency has been known to recoup debts for Empire Stores Catalogue, but there is a chance that Empire Stores could use more than one debt collection company and change the firms they use.

What Can the Debt Collection Agency Do?

The debt collection employed by Empire Stores catalogue cannot do any more than Empire Stores can. Whoever they use to collect the debt – if they use a debt collection agency – has no more legal rights than Empire Stores.

The purpose of outsourcing the chasing of debt is a purely practical one. Empire Stores may not have the time and resources to chase it, so they use another company to do it for them. This other company, such as Robinson Way Debt Collection, will take a cut of the debt or may get paid in advance to chase the debt.

What Can’t Empire Stores Debt Collection Agencies Do?

Any agency that Empire Stores use to collect debt will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they must follow stringent laws that prevent them from:

  • Harassing you for the debt
  • Pressuring you to pay
  • Alluding that they can repossess items (they do not have this authority!)
  • Discussing your debt with others
  • Calling you at times you have asked them not to

If they fail to adhere to FCA regulations, you can make an official complaint by reporting their behaviours directly to the FCA.

Regulations could get even stricter for debt collectors in the near future.

I’ve Received an Empire Stores Debt Collection Letter

If you received a debt letter concerning money owed to Empire Stores, you may have received it straight from the catalogue company, but you probably received it from a debt collection company.

This letter is known as a Letter Before Action because it tells you to pay or they will take further action.

The letter can be scary, and it may be a mistake. The main reason it could be a mistake is because debt collection agencies use a spray-gun tactic to send the letter to people with:

  1. The same name as the debtor
  2. The same current address as the debtor
  3. The same previous address as the debtor
  4. Or, administration errors

But just because you know there is a mistake does not mean you should ignore the Empire Stores debt collection letter.

First Things First, Is there Proof of the Empire Stores Debt?

Because debt agencies use these luck-chancing tactics, they do not include proof that the person owes the debt. They save time and hope the right person pays just by sending the letter alone. But in fact, it is the debt collection agency’s responsibility to prove the debt.

They need to provide you with evidence of your store credit card with Empire Stores or the agreement to a payment plan – and this evidence needs to be signed by yourself.

So, did you receive proof of your debt?

No – It’s Time to Send a Prove the Debt Letter

If you never received proof, you should first request it. This is easy to do with a prove the debt letter and templates of these letters referring to the correct legislation can be found online for you to edit and use.

Alternatively, you can write your own. If you decide to put pen to paper, make sure you tell Empire Stores or their outsourced debt group that without proof, all future communications are harassment and you will report them to the FCA.

Keep a record of the prove the debt letter in case you need to make a complaint.

Empire Stores

When You Don’t Need to Send a Prove the Debt Letter

There are two reasons why you would not need to send a prove the debt letter.

Empire Stores Debt Collection Agency Did Prove the Debt

If Empire Stores or their employed debt collection group provided proof of the debt within their first letter, you should not send a prove the debt letter. They could take further action as try to get a CCJ for the debt, which may result in enforcement officers knocking at your door.

What you should do if they proved the debt can be found later in this guide.

The Debt Is Statute Barred

The other reason not to send a prove the debt letter is if your Empire Stores debt is statute barred. In short, this is when the debt is old and not enforceable by the courts, so you don’t have to pay!

What Is Statute Barred Debt?

Statute barred debt is a debt that cannot be granted a CCJ which means you could never have items repossessed to pay it off. Only certain types of debts can be classed as statute barred. They must be:

  • At least six years old
  • Not been paid on within the last six years
  • Not been acknowledged to other companies in the last six years

You may be wondering why there would be such a loophole to get you out of having to pay. Well, the reason is quite simple.

The courts were being stretched by having to deal with countless old debt cases. To redirect court time and resources to more recent cases, they made legislation that prevented old debt being enforced by the court.

Send a Statute Barred Debt Letter to Empire Stores Debt Collection

If your debt is statute barred, you should not send a prove the debt letter. Instead, you need to send a statute barred letter that informs Empire Stores or their employed collection group that the debt is not enforceable.

Sometimes, Empire Stores Debt Collection already know the debt is not enforceable but will send the debt letter in any case in the hope you will not know your rights and pay out of fear or anxiety.

You can use statute barred templates found online just like the prove the debt letter templates. It is recommended to use a template.

Is My Statute Barred Empire Stores Debt Wiped?

No, there is a difference between your debt being statute barred and wiped. Wiped debt is a debt that has gone away through being paid off, or agreed to be cleared with the creditor. Statute barred debt is a debt that still exists but cannot be legally enforced.

You could oblige to pay your debt to Empire Stores if you wished.

Empire Stores Proved the Debt and it’s Not Statute Barred

If Empire Stores has supplied proof that you owe them money, it is time to confront the debt and explore your debt solution options. Ignoring these elaters is not advised as it could make Empire Stores seek a CCJ – and then enforcement agents will eventually come calling.

Ways to Approach Your Empire Stores Debt

There is no single tried-and-tested way to deal with debt, there are lots.

How you approach your Empire Stores debt will depend on personal circumstances and the size of the debt. If you can pay it off in one payment without adding financial strain to your household, it is recommended. But you don’t have to do this…

Agree to a Payment Plan

Most debt collection groups expect debtors to ask for a payment plan. This means you can call Empire Stores or their employed collection agency and agree to a plan that allows you to pay off the debt over months, or even years.

Don’t start negotiations with an arbitrary figure in mind. Calculate what your monthly expenses are and your income to work out what you can comfortably afford to pay Empire Stores each month. Use this figure to negotiate a payment plan. Neve agree to more you can pay or new debts could arise.

Consider an IVA

Payment plans are not the only option. If you have a considerable debt and other debts elsewhere, you could save thousands of pounds by paying the debt via an IVA instead.

An IVA is an agreement drawn up by a third-party company specialising in these documents. It commits you to pay towards multiple debts through one monthly payment (starting from £100 usually) over five years. Once the five years is up, all debts are wiped no matter how much is left to pay.

Companies agree to this because they know they are going to get a payment for the next 60 months or the debt will not be wiped.

Use Debt Charities for FREE Support

These aren’t the other two options either. You can get further guidance and understand more options that could be applicable to your circumstances by exploring online resources, such as Money Nerd.

Debt charities such as Step Change UK and National Debtline are also on hand to provide free advice and support.

Remember, Never Ignore Your Empire Stores Debt Collection Letter!

The golden rule when dealing with Empire Stores debt collection letters? Do not ignore them!

We understand that these letters are intimidating but being proactive can stop you from paying the debt or prevent it from materialising into a worse situation. This applies even if you think there has been a mistake.

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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