Get Them To Prove The Debt (With Letter Templates)

The first thing to do if you are contacted by a debt collection agency that is claiming that you owe them money is to make sure that you actually owe the money being claimed. There are a number of reasons that you might not actually owe the money.

Someone Else Owes the Money

It is quite common for someone who owes money to “forget” to tell their lender when they move home. As a result, you might have received a letter from a debt collection agency that relates to a debt that is owed by someone who lived in your home before you moved into it.

You are not legally obliged to do anything if you receive such a letter and the debt will not affect your credit rating because credit files apply to individuals rather than addresses. However, if you don’t do anything, the debt collection agency will continue to hassle you so it is in your interest to let them know that the person no longer lives at your address.

The easiest way to do this is to send them the following letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: [Reference]

I refer your letter dated [date] regarding this debt.

I moved into this address on [date] and I can confirm that [account holder] has not lived at this address since then. I am sorry but I cannot let you have a forwarding address for [account holder].

If you continue to contact me about this debt you will be committing what amounts to psychological and/or physical harassment.

Please would you update your records and confirm that you will not be contacting me again about this debt.

Yours faithfully.

Be aware that the debt collection agency may ask you for evidence that the account holder no longer lives at your address. You are not legally required to provide that.

Neither are you legally required to provide a forwarding address, even if you have one. In fact, even if you have a forwarding address providing that to the debt collection agency could put you at risk, so it would be wise not to supply that information.

You Don’t Think You Owe the Money

There are a number of reasons that you might think you don’t owe the money that is being claimed. You might think that you have already settled the debt. You might have forgotten that you owe the money.

A debt collection agency has to mark a debt as settled unless they can provide evidence that you owe the money that they claim you owe.

If you don’t think that you owe the money that they are claiming you owe, you can send them the following letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: [Reference]

I refer your letter dated [date] regarding this debt.

I believe that I do not owe the money that you are claiming. You will be aware that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Consumer Credit sourcebook says:

A firm should neither ignore nor disregard a customer’s claim that his debt has been settled and/or is disputed and must stop making demands for payment without providing the customer clear justification and/or evidence as to why the claim is not valid. (7.5.3)

A firm must suspend or cease the steps it or its agent takes in the recovery of a customer’s debt where the customer disputes or has settled the debt on valid grounds or what may be considered valid grounds. (7.14.1)

If a customer disputes the debt on valid grounds or on what may be considered valid grounds, the firm must re-examine the dispute and provide details of the customer’s debt to the customer in a reasonably timely manner. (7.14.3)

If there is a dispute regarding the identity of the borrower or the amount of the debt, it is for the firm (not the customer) to establish, that the customer is indeed the correct person/identity in relation to the debt owed or that the amount is correct under the agreement. (7.14.4)

A collection firm must provide the customer with information regarding the outcome of its investigations about a debt that the customer disputed or has settled on valid grounds. (7.14.5)

If the customer disputes the debt and the firm who seeks to recover the debt is neither the lender nor the owner, the firm is required to:

(1) Pass the information given by the customer to the actual lender or the owner; or

(2) If the firm was given authority by the lender or the owner to investigate the dispute, the firm is required to notify the lender or owner regarding the outcome of the investigation. (7.14.6)

Please either provide evidence that I am liable for this debt or confirm that you will not contact me further regarding the debt.

If you continue chasing me without providing evidence that I am liable for this debt this is deceptive and unfair. It also amounts to what is essentially physical and/or psychological harassment.

If you do not either provide evidence that I am liable for the debt or confirm that you will not be contacting me further, I will complain to Trading Standards and the FCA.

I await your reply.

Yours faithfully

Don’t sign this letter. Most debt collection agencies are reputable, but some aren’t. If you sign the letter they could scan your signature and attach it to a credit agreement to “prove” that you owe the money even though you do not.

Also, they need to provide actual evidence. If they simply say that they’ve checked and they are convinced that you owe the money that is not good enough. The evidence that they provide needs to be the sort of evidence that they would need if they took you to court.

If you need further help

Your local Citizens Advice will give you help if you need it. And best thing is that it’s free!

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