Having debt can be stressful and when creditors start to contact you it can be even harder. Hundreds of people face Ford & Warren debt every year and sometimes it’s hard to see a way out, but there are options available to you.
If you are being chased for money owed to Ford & Warren Solicitors (who have now merged with Weightmans) then it can seem like there is no way out. Particularly if you cannot afford to repay the debt. But this guide will show you how to deal with Ford & Warren without the unnecessary stress.
Who are Ford & Warren Solicitors?
Ford and Warren are a debt collection agency that works on behalf of companies such as HMRC, many utility firms, councils (including for parking fines) and media companies such as O2, EE, Virgin and Vodafone.
They have recently merged and now fall under Weightmans, who are a reputable law firm, claiming to be in the top 45 in the country.
If you are receiving letters from Weightmans and are unsure who they are, then it’s likely in regard to Ford & Warren debt.
Are they legitimate?
Yes. Ford and Warren were a legitimate debt collection agency registered with the FCA. Since their merger with Weightmans, they are more legitimate again. As mentioned, Weightmans claims it is ranked in the top 45 law firms in the country.
Why are Ford & Warren Contacting Me?
Ford and Warren have been contacting you in regards to a debt that you owe. It is most likely that they would have been acting on behalf of a creditor who has passed your details on to them to collect the debt owed.
Since their merger, it may now be Weightmans who are chasing you for the same debt as they will have taken over all Ford & Warren debt accounts.
Can I stop Ford & Warren Contacting Me?
No. Unfortunately, you cannot stop Ford & Warren from trying to contact you in a reasonable manner. They have the right to send letters to your property or try to contact you on any numbers you have given creditors in the past.
What you can do is to get in touch with them and tell them your preferred form of contact. Once you have done this, they should only use this method of communication in all future dealings.
However, they cannot try to contact you in a way that constitutes harassment.
Can I Make a Complaint About Ford & Warren?
Absolutely, if you feel that Ford & Warren (or Weightmans) has harassed you or mistreated you in any way.
You should contact them directly first and they should act impartially despite their debt claim against you.
Because Weightmans now hold all of Ford & Warren’s accounts, you should either use the contact information on your debt letter, or find your nearest Weightmans office.
Should I Ignore Ford & Warren Solicitors?
No, ignoring the debt collector isn’t going to get you anywhere and will not stop them trying to contact you. In fact, by ignoring them you run the risk of them escalating the issue by sending agents to your home or even taking you to court.
The best solution is to reply to their correspondence and then try to work out the best solution. However, it’s best to avoid admitting to owing to the debt as this will give them more ammunition to continue pestering you.
If you respond, they will have to give you some breathing space to work out the best solution for you so this will alleviate the attempts to contact in the short term.
If you do not believe that you owe the money then there are steps to follow later in the article.
If you believe that it’s a total mistake, then getting in touch with Ford & Warren Solicitors (Weightmans) to explain the situation is the best course of action to stop them getting in touch with you.
What Legal Action Can Ford & Warren Take Against Me?
Firstly, they will try to contact you by letter or phone call. If this fails then there are several steps that they might take to get in touch with you or compel you to pay the debt.
They may send their own agents to your home or property to establish contact. These are not bailiffs and as such have no right to enter your home or seize your assets. If you ask them to leave they must do so.
If they still cannot get in touch or get you to acknowledge the debt, then they can take you to court.
They may pursue a County Court Judgement which will outline the necessary payment plan set out by a judge.
If they are still unable to get you to make payments towards the debt then they may apply for an Attachments of Earnings order that will seize money from your paycheck before you get it.
They can also get a warrant for bailiffs to be sent to recover the debt or assets equalling the value of the debts.
Can Ford & Warren Enter My Home or Seize My Assets?
If Ford & Warren send their own agents, they have no right to enter your property or seize assets. If you request it, they must leave your property. This is because agents of Ford & Warren are not bailiffs, even if they try to act in such a way.
If Ford & Warren successfully take out a county court judgement against you, then they can send court-appointed bailiffs to your home or property. If they do this, bailiffs do have the right to enter your property and seize assets equaling the debt.
It is important to note that bailiffs cannot remove anything that would put you in hardship such as a cooker or fridge or vehicle needed for work.
In addition, it is highly unlikely that your home could be repossessed as a result of unsecured debt where your home was not used as collateral.
How Should I Respond to Ford & Warren Solicitors?
The first thing that you should aim for in any contact is to be amicable as this will help you to achieve a solution best for you.
Is the debt yours?
In the first instance of receiving a letter informing you of a debt you owe, make sure that the debt is yours. In rare cases the firm may have gotten a name or address wrong and it is a genuine mistake.
If you are unsure that it is yours, use an online free credit checker to look for credit from Ford & Warren or Weightmans (or the third party lender instructing them). If it is a mistake, inform them to stop further contact.
Can they prove the debt?
If the debt is yours then the next step to take is to ask the firm to prove the debt.
They will have to do this by sending you a copy of the original credit agreement signed by you. If they cannot do this then they cannot take you to court.
Is the debt statute barred?
If the debt is yours and they can prove it, the next step is to find out if the debt is statute barred. In England, creditors can only chase debt less than six years old (in Scotland. it is five years).
If the debt is older than this they have no legal right to take you to court for the debt.
The clock starts ticking from the last payment made or from the date of written acknowledgement of the debt, whichever is most recent.
If you know the debt is almost statute barred, do not acknowledge the debt in writing.
Should I Repay the Debt?
If you are financially able to repay the loan then yes, you should do so as quickly as possible as this is the quickest way to prevent the debt collectors from continuing to contact you. It is also the best way to make sure that they do not take up court proceedings against you.
If you cannot afford to repay the debt then some options are explored below. You should never agree to pay any debt that would put you in further hardship.
What if I Cannot Afford to Repay the Debt?
If you cannot afford to pay the debt, get in touch with Ford & Warren Solicitors to explain this. The firm should give you some breathing space to explore your options.
The best option will be to agree a repayment plan with the creditors that consists of a monthly repayment that is affordable to you and will clear the debt in a reasonable time frame.
If this cannot be agreed, you may be able to find a debt consolidation loan that will let you repay this debt and possibly merge other debts together to pay them off while only repaying an affordable amount.
Finally, you may be able to apply for an Individual Voluntary Agreement to write off some of the debt.
This will consolidate your debt, requiring you to pay an affordable amount over usually 60 months. After that, any remaining balance is written off. This could be between 60 and 90% of the debt depending on circumstances.
Still Unsure How to Proceed with Your Ford & Warren Debt?
If you want to explore the different options and figure out which one is best for your circumstances, head to our full guide on getting out of debt.