Debt recovery is a big industry – according to some figures, the market is worth about £2 billion. Yet being on the wrong side of a debt recovery letter can be an upsetting experience, particularly at the moment. However, with a bit of knowledge and preparation, you can beat the debt collectors at their own game. With that in mind, we take a look at how to deal with First Legal debt recovery.
Who is First Legal Debt Recovery?
If you receive a letter from First Legal debt recovery, you might be wondering who they are and what they want from you. The first step to dealing with this situation is to understand who the company is, what they specialise in, and whether or not they’re a legitimate organisation.
Who are they?
First Legal Services (UK) Ltd claims to be a debt collection specialist. They’re a Liverpool-based company that collects money across the UK, offering a range of services to all kinds of different clients. The ‘About Us’ section on the website is rather sparse on details, but there is some concrete information. For example, they have a registered address of:
Signature House, 232A Rainhill Road, Rainhill, Merseyside, L35 4LD
Other contact details include an email of email@example.com and a phone number of 0800 6341450. You can also contact them through a form on their website.
What do they specialise in?
As you’ve probably gathered, First Legal Services specialise in debt recovery. They offer a range of services related to this field, including:
- Personal and corporate debt recovery
- Enforcing County Court Judgements
- Debtor tracing
As you can see, these are all fairly intimidating options, and many of their services are offered on the basis that no fee is charged if they’re unsuccessful.
Are they legitimate?
It’s always a sensible idea to check whether a company is authorised and regulated when it comes to debt collection. With First Legal debt recovery, there are a few points worth mentioning. The company is registered with Companies House with the company number 04983936. So, they are definitely a real business.
However, a check of the FCA register paints a slightly more complicated picture. First Legal Services (UK) Ltd is not registered with the FCA. A firm called First Legal Services Ltd was registered, but due to disciplinary or regulatory action involving this firm, they are no longer authorised.
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What to do if they contact you
If you’ve received a letter from First Legal debt recovery, you might be concerned about what it means and what you should do. Before you contact the company to deal with the situation, there are a few steps you should take:
Don’t ignore it
The biggest mistake people make with debt collection letters is to totally ignore them. Although always a tempting option, it never resolves the matter and can mean it drags on for longer than necessary. Your best bet is to face it head-on.
Gather your details
You’ll want to have as much evidence at hand as possible to beat First Legal Services debt collection. Start by exploring all of the information on the letter, such as which company they’re collecting on behalf of and how much they say you owe. Cross-reference this with your own records, such as bank statements and contracts, to spot any discrepancies.
Keep a record
Be prepared to take down notes of the days and times that you speak with people. This can help you build a timeline of events, which can be useful if you need to contest anything or raise a complaint about the company.
How to deal with First Legal Debt Recovery
Now that you’re prepared, you can start to deal with First Legal debt recovery issues head-on. There are a few steps that you can take:
Get them to prove the debt
Legally, a debt collection agency or your original creditor must be able to provide detailed proof of the debt you owe. You can formally request that they present you with this. If they’re unable to, they cannot legally enforce the debt.
Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.
Check the debt status
In some circumstances, your debt may be what’s known as statute-barred. This effectively means that the period for the creditor to collect the money has expired. There are some prerequisites for this to be the case:
- Neither you nor the creditor has acknowledged the debt in at least six years
- You haven’t made a payment on the debt during that time
- The creditor hasn’t taken a CCJ out against you
It’s worth checking whether or not your debt meets these criteria. If it does, there’s a possibility you can write it off.
Write off the debt
There’s a chance that you might be able to write off some of your debt. With an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), you could cancel up to 90% of your debt with First Legal Services. To qualify for such a scheme, you’ll have to have at least £15,000 total in debt owed to at least three different creditors. With this arrangement, you’ll pay a small amount over a fixed period, with the remainder being written off.
Below, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about this firm and debt collectors in general:
Is First Legal a bailiff?
No, they’re a debt collection agency, which means their powers are limited. Unlike a bailiff, they cannot seize your property to cover your debts.
Can they visit my house?
Yes, a representative from First Legal Services could visit your property and ask you to repay the money you owe. However, they have no powers beyond that.
What happens if I don’t pay?
If you don’t pay your debts and you don’t work out an arrangement with your creditors, you could face further action. A County Court Judgement or visit from a bailiff could be the next step.
How can I make a complaint?
If you have any concerns about First Legal debt recovery, you can contact them to make a formal complaint. If they don’t resolve the issue, you can escalate the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.