If you’re reading this, you’ve probably received a letter from Hilton-Baird Debt Collection Service and aren’t sure what to do about it. Being contacted about an outstanding debt is never pleasant.
It can highlight how bad your financial situation is, adding to your stresses.
However, it’s not the end of the world, and there are positive steps you can take to deal with it.
With that in mind, we take a look at how to deal with Hilton-Baird debt collection.
Who is Hilton-Baird Collection Service?
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll recognise the name Hilton-Baird. They’re a company that specialises in collecting debt on behalf of third parties, usually other businesses. As part of the Hilton-Baird Group, they’re one of three companies operating under the banner. The other two are Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions and Audit & Survey.
The company has been in operation since 2001, and they work across a variety of sectors with businesses small and large. They also work with banks, lenders, insolvency practitioners, and business loan providers. Although primarily based in the UK, they do also operate across Europe.
There are a couple of addresses you can use to contact them:
- Hilton-Baird Group Southampton. Woollen Hall, Castle Way, Southampton, SO14 2AW
- Sp. z o.o., ul. Puławska 39 lok. 84, 02-508, Warszawa, Poland
There is also mention of a Hilton-Baird Hove office, although no information about this address could be found. Their contact number is 023 8070 7392, and their email address is [email protected].
Why have you received a letter from them?
Your first thought when receiving a letter from Hilton-Baird is probably, ‘I’ve never done business with them before.’ Although that’s probably accurate, they may still have a good reason for contacting you.
Hilton-Baird specialises in debt collection. This means that companies will pay them to recover money when their own attempts have failed. So, if you’ve been putting off making a repayment on an unsecured debt or settling an invoice, this is likely why they’re writing to you.
Usually, a company will try everything possible to recover the money themselves. When they’re unsuccessful, they’ll pass the case onto a debt collection agency, either internally or externally. Hilton-Baird is just one such example of this type of agency.
Are they legitimate?
It’s never a bad idea to be wary about letters claiming you owe money. There are, of course, plenty of seurious attempts at extorting money from those in vulnerable positions. So are Hilton-Baird debt real?
A quick search shows that they are indeed a real organisation. Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions Limited is a private limited company with a company number of 03832884. It was incorporated in August 1999.
They’re also registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with a reference number of 708341. This means they have certain powers when it comes to collecting debt, but also that they have to abide by certain regulations.
A quick look at Hilton-Baird reviews suggests that they offer a reasonably positive service. Three reviewers on Google give them 5 stars, while certain publications rank them among the top debt collection agencies in the country.
Debt collection agency vs bailiffs
One common misconception is that debt collection agencies are the same as bailiffs (also known as enforcement agencies). In reality, they’re very different and have significantly different powers.
Debt collection agencies such as Hilton-Baird only have the same amount of powers as your original creditor. So, they can ask you to repay what you owe and may be more persistent, but they can’t enforce it initially.
A bailiff is usually a court-appointed individual or company that can take steps to recover money you owe. For example, they can seize your belongings and sell them to recover the cost of the debt. They can also force entry to your house in some circumstances. Hilton-Baird is not a bailiff.
Should I ignore Hilton-Baird letters and calls?
Given that they have limited powers, it can be tempting to assume you can ignore Hilton-Baird and hope they go away. However, this is very unlikely to happen. These types of companies know every trick in the book, and they specialise in recovering money. Usually, they also work on the basis that they only get paid once the debt is recovered, so it’s in their interest to be persistent.
Ignoring their calls and letters will usually mean things escalate. Although they can’t harass you, they can certainly make sure they’re never far from your mind. They can also keep adding interest and charges to your account, meaning the debt will continue to grow.
Ultimately, ignoring debt collection agencies can eventually mean that your case gets sent to court. From here, you could face the actual bailiffs, as well as a County Court Judgement or even bankruptcy.
Can they visit me at home?
You’ll find that, in some circumstances, debt collection agencies will visit peoples’ homes. They usually have to give at least seven days’ written notice of such an event, and even then, their powers are limited.
They can come to your door and ask you or try and persuade you to repay the debt you owe. However, you don’t have to let them in, and they have to leave when you ask them to do so. They cannot forcibly enter your property, and they can’t take or threaten to take your possessions.
Who do they collect for?
On the Hilton-Baird Collection Service website, you’ll see a range of different businesses that they collect for. There are some fairly big names on there, particularly when it comes to the banking sector. There are also several smaller businesses. Here are some of the most notable ones:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Construction Recruitment
- Custom Glass
- PNC Business Credit
As you’ll see, along with some major high-street banks, they also collect for businesses and other credit companies. So, if you’ve a debt with any of these companies, you could face a letter from Hilton-Baird.
How can I stop them from contacting/visiting me?
It’s not ideal when you have a debt collection agency on your case. They will go as far as legally possible to force you into paying your debt. On top of the stresses of everyday life, it can be an unwelcome addition, especially if you’re trying to figure things out.
One thing worth noting is that Hilton-Baird has to respect your contact preferences. So, if you feel they’re bombarding you with calls, you can request that they only contact you in writing. Similarly, if you’re disputing the debt or asking them to prove it, they cannot keep trying to reach you while it’s being reviewed.
If you’ve received a letter informing you that they’re going to visit your home, your best option is to contact them. You can tell them that you’re going to dispute it or arrange payment, and this will usually stop them from visiting you.
What should I do if Hilton-Baird Collections write to me?
Now that we’ve established exactly who Hilton-Baird Collections Service are, it’s time to look at how to deal with them. If they’ve written to you about a debt they claim you owe, here are some of the steps you should take:
Check if you owe the debt
Although it’s rare that debt collection companies get your details by mistake, it isn’t unheard of. You could have moved into an address where the previous occupant had a debt. Or you could have recently paid what you owe, but records haven’t been updated.
Either way, it’s vital that you check the full details of what Hilton-Baird is telling you. Make sure that the details on the letter match up with your own, including your name and address. Similarly, you should double–check that the original creditor and amount owed is accurate.
By gathering your own documents and records relating to the debt, you’ll be able to cross-reference whether their claim matches what you owe. This makes it far easier when dealing with the situation.
Get them to prove the debt
It’s up to the original creditor to give exact details of how much you owe, when you owe it from, and any extra charges that relate to it. From a legal standpoint, they can’t enforce the debt if they can’t prove it. This may play into your hands, and you should ask them if they’re able to prove the debt.
Not only does this buy you a bit of time, but it also means that you’ll get a clearer picture of the amount you owe. What’s more, if they can’t prove that you owe the debt, you may not have to pay it at all.
Check online for some ‘prove the debt’ templates and update them with your details. Essentially, these letters outline the FCA regulations surrounding debt repayments and the burden of proof.
Check if it’s statute-barred
Certain types of debts have a time limit when it comes to repaying them. Unsecured debts such as credit cards, store credit, overdrafts, and utility bills all fall into this category. The time limit in England is usually six years, but there are certain conditions that have to apply for it to be statute-barred:
- Neither you nor the creditor has acknowledged the debt in the last 6 years
- You haven’t made a repayment during that time
- The creditor hasn’t taken court action against you during that time.
So, if you haven’t heard about or made any action regarding the debt in the last six years, it could be statute-barred. Although this doesn’t clear the debt, it effectively means it’s unenforceable and can be written-off. As such, you should check your records to see whether this is the case for yours.
Once you’ve got proof of the debt and made sure it isn’t statute-barred, you’ll want to contact either Hilton-Baird or your original creditor. You will have to acknowledge that the debt is yours and that you intend to pay it. Doing so will usually mean that the debt collection agency stops chasing you, and you can deal with the creditor again.
In some instances, debt collection agencies actually purchase the debt, meaning you no longer owe the creditor but instead owe the agency. If this is the case, you’ll have to contact them to settle. The letters you receive from Hilton-Baird should outline the status of your debt.
Options for paying Hilton-Bard debt
So, if you definitely owe the debt, the creditor can prove it, and it’s not statute-barred, you will have to pay it one way or another. So what are your options when it comes to clearing what you owe? It depends a little on your current situation:
Can you pay it?
If you can afford to pay the debt, you might have a few options available. Of course, the simplest is to pay what you owe in one lump sum. This will deal with the situation, and you can move on. However, that might not be feasible.
Instead, you can suggest a regular payment plan to your creditor. This could be a fixed monthly amount in line with your current financial situation. They don’t have to accept such an offer, but they’re usually likely to.
Can you write it off?
Aside from when it’s statute-barred, you might have some options to write off some of your debt. Perhaps the most feasible option is an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). Essentially, this sees you pay a fixed amount each month for 60 months. It’s usually a smaller amount than you otherwise would pay, and anything remaining at the end of that period is written off.
Can you get help managing your debts?
There are several options available to help if you’re struggling with debts. For example, you could consider a debt management plan, which helps you make more manageable payments towards all your debts.
Alternatively, you could contact Citizens Advice about your problems with debt. They can help you work out the best method of getting a handle on what you owe.