Northern Debt Recovery are one of the enigmas of the debt collection industry, especially for people who received communications from Northern Debt Recovery and their associated companies.

You might have been like this person…

“Just after some help. I’m trying to help out a friend who has arrears with Orange and today received a letter from Northern debt recovery. I’m unsure if this is a ‘proper’ DCA or part of Orange?”

Or maybe you were like this person…

“The only issue is Speed Credit aka Toothfairy finance/Northern Debt Recovery/Marshall Hoarse Bailiffs and anything else they want to call themselves (really how many names does one company need) […]”

Or what about this person…

“Having checked my Noddle credit file this month (sometimes out of date data from CallCredit; so taken with a pinch of salt naturally) I noticed my Credit Record was no longer showing Toothfairy Finance.”

Whatever type of confused person you were, if you had dealings with Northern Debt Recovery and suddenly stopped being contacted or chased for your debt, you probably want to know what went on.

Don’t worry, here’s what to do

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Who Are Northern Debt Recovery?

Northern Debt Recovery were a debt collection agency that collected debts for different businesses, some of them well known at the time, such as the phone provider Orange – as mentioned above.

But they were part of a bigger operation and heavily connected to other debt collection agencies and even personal loan providers.

In fact, Northern Debt Recovery can be traced to two other debt collection agencies and four payday loans providers. The exact business setup is not entirely known now that they have all been cut from the industry.

This is why one company has so many names. They are really different businesses but because they are so closely linked, it appeared to some debtors that they were morphing into different names frequently.

So, what happened?

The Full Story on Northern Debt Recovery

Citizens Advice is one of the groups that debtors call upon in times of need and guidance. After a number of debtors contacted Citizens Advice about the way they were being treated by Northern Debt Recovery and their associate companies, it was time for them to step in – and step up.

Citizens Advice compiled a dossier on Northern Debt Recovery and the other businesses and sent it to the Office for Fair Trading (OFT). The dossier was accompanied by a request from Citizens Advice to immediately suspend the four payday loan businesses and three debt collection groups, including Northern Debt Recovery.

The documents provided initiated a formal investigation by the OFT and related bodies, which was further supported by ongoing complaints forwarded to Citizens Advice from other debtors. The end result was all companies were closed down and none of them were allowed to continue trading or collect debts.

If you have a Northern Debt Recovery letter and they ask for the money – you can bin it!

What Were the Concerns About Northern Debt Recovery?

The Office for Fair Trading had multiple concern regarding the practices of Toothfairy Finance as a loan company and their associated debt recovery agencies, namely Northern Debt Recovery and Marshall Hoares Bailiffs (who were once known as Toothfairy Cheque Cashing Limited).

The concerns regarding the loan provider arm of the setup was that they were taking additional payments from customers’ bank accounts that were not correct. They were overcharging people to pay back their loans and not taking amounts that were not agreed when the loan was taken out.

The concerns regarding Northern Debt Recovery and Marshall Hoares Bailiffs were that:

  • Workers were making repeated calls to debtors and sending frequent text messages, amounting to harassment
  • Workers were aggressive and abusive in nature when dealing with debtors
  • Workers acted as though they were bailiffs and had legal rights they did not, such as the ability to enter a debtor’s property or to remove goods to pay off the debt
  • Workers were not agreeing to acceptable repayment plans to pay off the debt

Know Your Rights When Dealing with Debt Collection Agencies

The events surrounding Northern Debt Recovery show the need for debtors to understand their rights and not be taken for a ride by debt collection agencies.

Any debt collection agency is not allowed to:

  • Harass you with calls, texts or emails (you can inform them of your contact preferences to make sure of this).
  • Pressure you to pay. You must be given time to look at your different debt solution options
  • Claim to have the same rights as a bailiff. Northern Debt Recovery and other debt agencies are not bailiffs and cannot come inside and cannot take items (this would be theft!)
  • Debt collection agencies can’t even make a legal court threat if they know that is unlikely to happen because the amount they are chasing would not be worth going to court for.

Make a Complaint to Make a Difference

If you experience any of the things above or any of the things that Northern Debt Recovery and their partners did to debtors, then it is time to make a formal complaint.

You can complain to Citizens Advice and hope they take the complaint further, but it may be better to complain directly to the Financial Ombudsman and get them to investigate.

Sometimes, the Ombudsman can even get the debt collection agency to give you compensation.

So, Will My Northern Debt Recovery Debt Be Wiped?

Northern Debt Recovery are not legally allowed to chase you for debt because they are no longer recognised by the industry regulators. There has been some concern by the Financial Ombudsman that one of the other businesses, Marshall Hoares Bailiffs, have been operating illegally from offshore even after being struck off.

If Northern Debt Recovery ask you to pay off a debt in the future, you will not have to answer to them or pay off the debt because they are not a legal debt collector in the UK anymore.

However, Northern Debt Recovery might have sold your debt to another debt collection group that is still allowed to collect debts.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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