Are you being contacted by High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors about outstanding debt you have? Do you owe debt and can’t afford to pay it back? Are you unsure if you owe the debt you are being asked to pay back? Are the debt collectors threatening to take court action against you? If these questions sound familiar, or you are facing similar issues with High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors, read on – as you might find this article will help you deal with your situation.
It’s not your fault. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
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Who are High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors?
A high court enforcement officer is appointed by the court and collects debts on behalf of the courts. They will usually collect debts such as CCJs, VAT, income tax, national insurance, court fees and unpaid council tax.
Don’t worry, here’s what to do!
You could get rid of debt collectors by writing off your debt. I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator which will tell you if you’re eligible:
What is the reason for the contact by High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors?
Debt collection agencies are in plentiful supply, which just shows how much of a problem this is in today’s world. There are a range of different types of High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors, including those who are part of the original credit company you have the debt with, and there are also independent businesses. Some debt collectors are even sole traders. Debt collectors chase you for debt on behalf of another organisation, such as a bank or credit card company. You may not recognise the debt collection company, but this doesn’t mean you don’t owe the money.
These companies all work under the same premise. They buy the debt at a smaller price than the face value, and start to make profit when you make payments towards the debt. It works well for both parties, as the original creditor gets a guaranteed payment, and the debt collector can make a profit, without having to do much themselves. Companies usually pass debt over to debt collection agencies when they are having no luck in getting the payments. Unfortunately though, debt collectors often implement some poor practices to try and get the money. For example, harassing debtors with constant daily calls. These practices seem to be widespread. They don’t seem to have much consideration for the financial problems faced by debtors – they just want their money.
Find out if this is your debt
If the debt doesn’t look familiar to you, you should find out more about it before you endeavour to make any payment towards it. Even if you recognise the debt, it is probably higher than you remember, as it may have been inflated by charges and interest. It could, in fact, be significantly higher than you remember.
If you want confirmation of your debt, you can write to High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors and request tat they send you a copy of the original credit agreement. If they refuse to send this, you will not need to make any payments towards the debt.
Find your best debt solution
Is all this information starting to feel overwhelming? Don’t panic! I’ve put together a 4 question debt calculator so you can quickly and easily find the best solution for you. Answer the four questions now.
Can pay but don’t want to?
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just refusing to pay if you are able to. If the debt is yours, it is best that you take steps to pay it off, whether that be paying the full amount or arranging to pay in installments. You should not pay debt to the detriment of your other day to day bills though. It is important to take care of essential bills, and then think about paying your debt.
Are debt collectors making your life a misery?
Debt collectors may put some tactics in place which are not in line with the law. These tactics may include attempting to pressure you into paying by threating and pressurising you. They may keep calling you to try and get a response or may even resort to calling your workplace.
It is not pleasant to be contacted by High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors about outstanding debt you have, and in some cases, this kind of negative contact can lead to distress and even mental health issues. There are many people who struggle with debt problems, and as many as 50% of these debtors will even consider suicide. Debt collection agencies can make debtors feel upset and humiliated, They feel trapped, especially if they are unable to pay back the debt. It is an unpleasant situation to be in, which is made even more difficult by the behaviour of some debt collection agencies. As a consequence of the way debt collection agencies were behaving, and the lending criteria they were using, the government were asked to step in and take control of the situation. This is what they did, and this made a huge difference to the debt collection industry.
High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors and what the law says
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT, 2012) put a set of guidelines into place which were designed to improve the debt collection industry, and ensure debtors were protected against poor practices. According to these guidelines, High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors are required to:
- Ensure they treat debtors in a fair way, which doesn’t involve any aggressive practices, or deceitful behaviour.
- Always provide information to debtors which is clear and concise, and does not mislead debtors.
- Show consideration and empathy towards the difficulties the debtor is facing.
- Ensure the debtors circumstances are taken into account before determining the most appropriate action.
You do not need to put up with intimidation by High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors, especially if they are not following the required guidelines. If they have failed to adhere to the do the necessary regulation, they may even have the power to take their license. You have the right to report the debt collectors to the OFT.
If you want to complain about High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors, you will be able to use this online complaint form.
You may even find that debt collectors will say they are operating externally, when they are actually working together as part of the original credit company you have the debt with. As this is deceit, it is a further breach of the regulations.
Find out how High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors operates
If you have never dealt with debt collectors before, you may not know what to do next. You may not even understand them and what they are trying to do. These are some facts about debt collection agencies.
They usually receive a bonus
Agents at debt collectors, including High Court Enforcement Debt Collector will usually receive a bonus, based on how much money they collect. They may receive a daily, weekly or monthly bonus and this would explain why they can be so persistent about collecting the payments. The last thing they want is to record a ‘non payment’, and have explaining to do about why they have failed to collect any money. When you know this, you will have a better understanding of their objectives.
You need to be able to stay strong against the threats you receive from High Court Enforcement Debt Collector. Most of the threats are empty anyway, so don’t let them worry or stress you out. Speak to them and let them know what your situation is, but don’t pay unless you can afford it. You should never leave yourself in a position where you are unable to pay your rent/mortgage etc, as you are paying off debt instead.
They may use call technology
Although it may be extremely tempting to just ignore the calls you receive from High Court Enforcement Debt Collector, it won’t stop them from contacting you. If you do ignore them, they may just employ call technology, which means they will continue to call you on regular intervals. This is done to try and drive you to the point where you answer, just to get rid of them!
If they have employed call technology, and they are contacting you at regular interviews, you should take a note of the times, as they may be in breach of the regulations. This could be viewed as harassment. You have the right to inform the agent that you plan to report them to the Financial Ombudsman.
You will be able to contact the Financial Ombudsman by phone on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
When the friendly attitude changes
Debt collection agencies will often change their attitude from friendly and personable to being angry and annoyed – and this can happen in a single phone call. The reason for the change in attitude is usually because they have realised that you can’t pay the money you owe, and therefore, they will have less chance of getting their bonus. Sometimes the attitude can even become quite aggressive and may include threats and abusive behaviour. They may try and force you into paying, even when they know you can’t afford it. They are doing this to try and wear you down, with the aim that you will get fed up and pay up, regardless of whether you can really afford it.
Although it can be difficult to deal with this kind of behaviour, it is important to stand up to debt collectors. You should never pay debts if you can’t afford it, and you should definitely not suffer any abuse. If you are dealing with any aggressive behaviour or abuse, you should report them to the OFT using this online complaint form.
What if they discuss your debt with a third party
If you do not pick up the phone, and someone else answers instead, the agents may just decide to discuss your debt with them instead. This may be your partner, family member, but could also even be a colleague at your workplace. Of course, this sort of behaviour should not be permitted and you should definitely report them if they do this. Not only is it illegal, it is also a breach of privacy laws.
You will be able to report this behaviour to the Financial Ombudsman on 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9123
What if they have lied to you?
In a desperate bid to get you to pay up, debt collectors may use some nasty practices. They may even lie to you, and pretend that they are calling from the court. They may resort to saying they are a bailiff, and they plan to visit you at home to take some of your possessions as payment. They could even threaten you with criminal prosecution.
You should not allow them to visit you and gain access to your property. If they do decide to go against your wishes by visiting your home anyway, you would have every right to report them. If you feel in any way threatened, you should always contact the police.
Are they wearing you down?
It is understandable that this kind of contact from debt collectors like as High Court Enforcement Debt Collectors would wear you down, and get you to the point were you don’t know where to run. Unfortunately, debt collectors can drive people to feeling despair, embarrassment and humiliation about their debt situation. It is important that you sort out your debt situation, but you should only do this at a rate that suits you. Regardless of how bad your situation is, there is always a way to turn things around, but you need to deal with the problems, and not bury your head in the sand.
How to get debt help
If you want help with your debt, there are several options you might want to consider. You may want to get help from not-for-profit organisations, who will provide debt help and advice completely free of charge. Alternatively, there is the option of commercial debt management companies, who will charge you for their services. Of course, given your financial situation, the not-for-profit organisations are the best option. These are some well-known organisations who can help you.
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) have trained advisors on hand to help and support you with your debt issues. They can also help with a range of other issues you may benefit from help with.
- Christians Against Poverty (CAP) will provide you with advice and support in dealing with your debt problems.
- StepChange provides free online debt advice and help people get their finances back on track.
You may be able to write off your debt
There is the possibility of being able to write off your debt, by entering into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). An IVA is an agreement you reach with debt collectors, and it is most suited to individuals who are suffering from serious debt problems. With an IVA, you may an amount you are able to as a one-off sum, or there is also the option of making monthly payments. You will be able to write off a chunk of your debt after around five years. The IVA process must be taken care of by an insolvency practitioner.
Check for a local licenced IVA insolvency practitioner here.
Alternatively, you also have the option of a Debt Relief Order (DRO). You will only be eligible for this if you have £50 or less left, after you have paid your bills, and you must not be a homeowner. In addition, you are not permitted to have assets worth over £1,000 to be eligible for this.
If you want to apply for a DRO you must go through an authorised debt advisor. This is a list of authorised debt advisors here.
Although there have been many warnings from professional bodies, as well as government guidelines put into place, the behaviour of some debt collectors still leaves a lot to be desired. In some instances, debt issues have led people to commit suicide. You can’t just tell the debt collectors that you won’t pay. However, you can reach an agreement to pay the debt in installments. It is important to take care of your debts in a way that works for you. Communication is key here, and being honest about your situation. Don’t make promises to pay, if you know you won’t be able uphold these. If you are suffering at the hands of debt collectors, do not hesitate to report them to the Financial Ombudsman. They do not have any right to treat you badly or to try and shame you. In some cases, if it is deemed necessary, they may even lose their licence.