Times are tough for many people at the moment. The financial situation seems increasingly difficult, meaning that people across the country are struggling with things like debt.
As such, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to receive debt collection letters on outstanding amounts they owe.
In some instances, companies are employing experts such as FJG debt recovery to recover money. We take a look at what you need to know about the company, and what you can do to deal with the situation.
How to Deal with FJG – The Basics
Let’s start by taking a look at who is behind the calls or letters you may have received. It helps to know who you’re dealing with, as well as whether they’re a real company and why they might be contacting you. Here’s what you need to know:
Who is FJG?
FJG Solicitors, also known as Fisher Jones Greenwood, are a law firm based out of London. They have over 35 years’ experience and employ over 150 lawyers and staff across the country. FJG provide all kinds of services to individuals and companies. This includes things like advocacy, personal injury, employment law, litigation, and dispute resolution.
The firm has a variety of offices across the country, meaning you may have received contact from a few different places. Below, we’ve outlined the addresses for each:
- FGJ Colchester. Charter Court, Newcomen Way, Colchester Business Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 9YA
- FGJ Chelmsford. 16 Baddow Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0DG
- FGJ Billericay. 102 High Street, Billericay, CM12 9BY
- FJG Clacton-on-Sea. 73 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, CO15 1SD
- FJG Holland-on-Sea. 104 – 106 Kings Avenue, Holland-on-Sea, Essex, CO15 5EP
The company isn’t to be confused with FGJ Scunthorpe (FJG Logistics), a logistics and warehousing company. Similarly, FJG Architects is an entirely separate business.
Are they legitimate?
People are often wary of debt collection letters. After all, there are countless scams, as well as horror stories of harassment and malpractice in the industry. So what about a letter from FJG debt recovery? Well, you can be certain that they’re a real company, and likely representing someone you owe money to.
Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP is the company behind FJG. The limited liability partnership was incorporated in 2003 with the company number OC305854. They’re also regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Tony Fisher is FJG’s senior partner and is well-known in the industry.
The company sometimes trades under the name Frontline Solicitors and was previously known as Charles Derby Solicitors.
All of this information means that they are indeed a legitimate business. It also means that they can act on behalf of other companies to try and recover debt. However, given their SRA registration, they have to abide by certain rules when dealing with your case. We’ll explore these in more detail further down.
Why are they writing to you?
You’ve probably never heard of FJG before unless you’ve hired them in a previous legal dispute. So why have you suddenly received a call or letter from them? Well, the most likely scenario is that you owe money to a company, and that company has employed FJG to recover it.
Under their civil disputes services, FJG deal with consumer debt. So, businesses that are failing to recover money they owe will often employ organisations such as FJG Solicitors to get it for them. Often, the threat of legal action is enough to scare people into paying. However, in some instances, the solicitors firm will also take legal action.
If you’ve been ignoring letters from a company you owe money from for a while, this could explain why FJG are now contacting you instead.
Solicitors vs debt collection agencies
One question that’s often asked is how a solicitors firm such as FJG limited differs from a regular debt collection agency. After all, companies will often employ either when it comes to reclaiming money they’re owed.
Initially, there seem to be few differences between the two. Their powers are roughly the same as the original creditor, meaning they can only ask you to repay the money. They can use any additional force to recover the funds.
However, if you continually refuse to pay, law firms can usually react quicker to escalate things. They are experts at knowing what steps they need to take to recover the money. When it comes to debt collection, they are often fearsome opponents.
Dealing with FJG – Rules and Regulations
Now that we know a little bit about who FJG are and how they operate, it’s time to look at what rights you have when you’re dealing with them. It’s important to know where you stand, as well as what they can and can’t do when recovering debt.
What are your rights?
Let’s start by looking at what rights you have when FJG get in touch with you. Although not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (they don’t have to be), they are beholden to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulations. This means they have to follow certain rules when trying to recover money:
- They can’t put pressure on you to repay what you can’t afford, and they can’t use complex language to try and confuse you.
- Similarly, they can’t misrepresent what will happen if you don’t pay or tell lies about what happens if you do.
- When communicating with you, they have to give honest advice and respect your privacy. They can’t send aggressive letters or hide information about your debt.
- If your debt is statue-barred, they can’t chase you for the money.
As you can see, there are plenty of rights you have when dealing with them. Additionally, if you outline your contact preferences, they have to respect that choice. If you’re having problems with them, you can make a complaint to the SRA.
What action can FJG take?
Next, let’s look at some of the powers that FJG have when it comes to debt recovery. As we mentioned earlier, initially, their powers are limited. However, if you continue to avoid contact from them or refuse to pay, there are steps that they can take:
- Add fees. As per the terms of your original contract, FJG can continue to add interest and fees to your debt. However, these can’t be overly excessive.
- Apply for a CCJ. A County Court Judgement is a court order that demands you pay your debt. Not only does this mean you might have to appear in court, but it also negatively impact your credit file for years to come.
- Petition for bankruptcy. If you’re made bankrupt, you’ll have to sell off your assets to cover the cost of the debt. It also stays on your credit file for a long time, making it hard to secure future finance.
These are some fairly serious consequences for not paying your debt. Solicitors will often escalate these matters quickly, although only in the most extreme circumstances.
Can they take your belongings?
One point worth mentioning is that FJG debt recovery aren’t bailiffs (enforcement agents). They cannot come to your house and take your belongings or force their way onto your property. That being said, they can apply to the courts to send the bailiffs in.
If you’ve had a CCJ and still refuse to pay, it’s likely that FJG will be able to call in the bailiffs. In this situation, your possessions can be taken to cover the cost of your debt. This includes things like vehicles and luxury items.
What to do if FJG debt recovery writes to you
So, we’ve seen what FJG can and can’t do when dealing with your case. This makes it far easier to know what action you should take if you receive a call or letter from them. You don’t need to panic – instead, follow the steps below to start resolving your situation:
Don’t discard their letters
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to dealing with debt collection agencies and solicitors is ignoring the correspondence they’re sent. It’s certainly tempting to just throw the letter straight in the bin and hope it goes away. However, that’s unlikely to happen.
Instead of discarding the letter, make sure to double-check the details of it. Ensure that your name and details are correct and that the amount you owe and who you owe it to are also accurate. You can cross-reference it against your own documents to confirm.
Check the status of the debt
In some instances, unsecured debts such as credit cards and store credit have expiry dates. In England, it usually takes six years for this to happen. However, there are some circumstances that have to be met. If you’ve not received any communication or a CCJ about the debt in the last six years, and you haven’t made a payment in that time, it could be statute-barred.
Debts that are statute-barred cannot legally be enforced. So, although you may still owe the money, the creditor cannot take any actions to reclaim it. As such, you should always check whether this is the case, and make sure you have proof to back it up.
Get them to prove it
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to dealing with a debt recovery company is to get proof of what you owe. Essentially, it highlights some of the rules and regulations surrounding proof of debt. You ask the creditor to provide this information, as well as a detailed breakdown of dates, payments and interest.
If a company cannot provide this detailed proof of what you owe, then the debt isn’t legally enforceable. So, it can very much be in your best interests to send one of these letters. However, don’t physically sign at the bottom, as they may be able to use your signature against you later on.
Pay them if you can
Ultimately, we all have to pay our debts at some point. If FJG or your original creditor have proof of what you owe and it’s not statute-barred, you’ll have to make arrangements to pay it. Of course, coughing up the whole lot might not be practical, so you might want to get in touch with them first to see what you can arrange.
How to get help with your debt
The problem with debt is that it’s easy to continue sliding into it. What starts off as a small amount can soon snowball out of control. When it comes to dealing with FJG debt recovery solicitors, you may find you can’t pay back what you owe. Again, you don’t need to panic if that’s the case, but you do need to take action:
Many creditors will accept a regular repayment plan instead of the full amount all at once. However, they have no obligation to do so. If you want to help your case, you should first work out what you owe and how much you can afford to pay back each month. This makes it more likely for your creditor to accept your proposal.
Debt management options
If you can’t even afford a monthly payment, all is not lost. There are many schemes that can help you settle your debts one way or another. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the potential options:
- An IVA. An individual voluntary arrangement can help you minimise your debt into one, small repayment. Over around 60 months, you’ll make these payments to pay off part of all of your debts. Anything leftover at the end is simply written off.
- A DMP. A debt management plan lets you restructure your debts, helping you freeze interest rates and make a small but regular payment against all of your debts.
These are just two of the methods to consider, but there are also things like consolidation loans that can help you pay things back gradually.
Help with your financial situation
Finally, if you’re struggling with debt and aren’t sure where to turn, there are several resources you can check out. We’ve outlined some of the most commonly used ones below:
- Citizens Advice
- Step Change debt charity
- National Debtline debt advice