Phillips & Cohen Associates are a debt collecting agency and they chase debt on behalf of other companies, such as banks, utility companies and mobile phone companies.
Although you don’t owe the money directly to Phillips & Cohen, they buy the debt from another company, who will then spend time tracking down the debt.
The debt collectors might contact you by phone or letter – or both. They might even threaten to visit your home. If you have received letters like this, you may be panicking and wondering what to do. If you are in this situation, you are not alone, take a look at the Legal Beagles forum, where you will be able to read about other scenarios from customers dealing with Phillips & Cohen. This should give you a bit of reassurance that you are facing the same challenges as other people.
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsmen have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
We will look at the actions you can take specifically to deal with outstanding debt, together with some advice and tips on managing debt in general and some tips to increase your income.
Who is Phillips & Cohen Associates Debt Collectors ?
Phillips & Cohen Associates is a debt collecting company. They buy debt from other companies and chase the debt to try and obtain full payment. Although they cannot visit your home or take your possessions, they are entitled to contact you about the debt, so it is important that you don’t ignore it. If you ignore it, it will just spiral and they will keep contacting you until you respond. This can be highly stressful and distressing. It is important to contact them when you receive the letter.
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Discussing the Debt with Phillips & Cohen Associates
The first thing to do after you receive a letter or call from Phillips & Cohen is to understand what the debt is referring to. Do not just pay the debt, make sure you owe it first. If you are unsure of the debt or it is not your debt, you should call Phillips & Cohen Associates on 0800 030 4101 in the first instance. Make sure you get confirmation in writing about the debt, even if your initial discussion is over the phone. It is imperative that you have proof that you owe the debt, and if possible, a breakdown of the costs.
Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.
Making Payments to Phillips & Cohen Associates
It is better to pay your debt in one full payment, if you can afford it, but if not, you will be able to pay the debt back in instalments. It is important that you pay the most essential bills first before you make payments to your debt. For example, your mortgage/rent and utilities (gas/electricity) should be paid first. It is a good idea to sit down and work out your finances and budget available to make payments. If you can only afford a small payment each month, Phillips & Cohen Associates may ask for proof of your income. Ideally, you will be able to make substantial payments each month, as this will get the debt dealt with and cleared as soon as possible. Not only does debt have a consequence on your credit rating, it can also be highly stressful dealing with debt collecting agencies. If you owe the money, start making payments as soon as possible.
How to Manage Your Debt
We know that owing money can be highly stressful, especially if you are struggling to make payments. These are some tips for dealing with your debt.
- Check your credit file – your credit report is a good place to start when trying to get your debt in order, and there are many websites or apps you can use to do this, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Make sure the debt registered on your credit report is debt you actually owe and start by contacting the companies you owe money to. Most companies will accept a payment, even if it is a small one. It’s better to start making payments, than to bury your head in the sand.
- Use Savings – there is no point in having savings if you also have debt, it is counterproductive. Make sure you have paid of all your debt, or at least have payment plans in place before you even consider saving your money.
- Personal Loan – if your credit rating is such that you will be entitled to a loan with low interest rates, it might be worth getting this, and consolidating your debt. This is particularly useful if you have a lot of debt, as it means your debt is only in one place. It is much easier to manage this way.
- Minimum Credit Card Payments – it might be tempting to just pay your minimum payment on credit cards, but this can easily keep you locked in for years paying extortionate levels of interest. It is a good idea to try and pay off credit cards as quickly as possible. Try and make more than the monthly payment, as this will ensure it is cleared sooner, rather than later.
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay Phillips & Cohen?
If you can’t afford to pay the debt Phillips & Cohen are chasing you about, you should contact them to discuss the options in the first instance. There might be options to defer it for a few months or you may want to enter into an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA), which is available in Wales, England and Northern Ireland or a Trust Deed in Scotland. This will help you to write off a lot of your debit, but it will mean that you won’t be able to get any credit for around 5 years. It is important to do this with caution, especially if you are looking to take out a mortgage in the future.
What If You Don’t Owe the Money?
Debt collecting agencies like Phillips & Cohen are desperate to get payments on the account, and in some cases, they may chase you for money that is owed by someone else. If this is the case, do not make payments to them. If you don’t recognise the payment, you must get written proof from Phillips & Cohen that you owe the money, and a breakdown of the costs. Under no circumstances should you pay any debt you don’t owe.
Making Payments to Phillips & Cohen
If you can afford to make payments, you should give them a call and establish a payment plan with them. If you can only afford a small amount, you may be asked for proof of your earnings. The quicker the debt is paid off the better, and paying it always better than ignoring it, so this should never be an option.
Tips for Increasing Your Income
Dealing with phone calls and letters about money you owe can be highly distressing, particularly if you are in a difficult financial situation. If you have a low income, you might want to consider other ways of increasing your income. These are some tips for making a bit of extra income to put you in a better position to be able to pay off your outstanding debt.
- Ask for Extra Hours – if you are struggling to pay off debt, it might be worth asking your employer (if you are employed) if you can pick up some extra shifts, even if it’s just for a short term. Most employers will be willing to provide extra shifts if the workload is high. There is no harm in asking the question.
- Additional Employment – if you can manage it, it might be worth taking on some extra work, even in the interim while you have the debt hanging over you. It might involve working in the evening or weekends, but if it’s short term, it may be do-able.
- Cashback Websites – there are websites where you can make money, just by shopping online. If you tend to order online, take a look at a cashback website first, such as Top Cashback. If you can make money when you’re shopping anyway, you may as well do it. Rewards are particularly high for utilities, mobile phones, and bank accounts. It is worth taking a look before you make any online purchase.
- Cashback Credit Cards – there are also credit cards which will pay you every time you make a purchase. If you qualify for these, it can be really worthwhile and much more cost effective than a standard credit card.
- Sell on eBay – most of us have clutter lying around the home which we no longer need or have never used. There is no point in accumulating these things, especially if you have debt you need to pay off. It makes more sense to sell your items on eBay. Even if you make a little money, it can be used to pay off some of your debt.
- Cancel Subscriptions – it is extremely easy to order a subscription; you can quickly do it at the touch of a button. If you have a lot of subscriptions to apps, even if they are for a small amount, they can quickly add up and before you know it, you’re paying out £100’s every month. If you want to make the most of your money and pay your debt off, make sure you cancel any subscriptions you don’t need. It will make your money go much further in the long run.
Improving Your Credit Rating
If you are worried about your credit rating, there are some steps you can take to improve it, and you can get started straight away. Even if your credit rating is extremely poor, you can take steps to change it as your credit rating changes every month. These are some ways to repair your credit score.
- Register on Electoral Roll – it is essential that you register on the voter’s roll, otherwise the credit company will not be able to locate you, and therefore, they won’t be able to offer you any credit. It is a simple process which can be done online and will only take a few minutes.
- Pay Off Debt – start making payments to your debt, and it’ll improve your credit rating. If you can only afford small payments, just make those as even the smallest payments will start repairing your credit score.
- Take a Credit Break – if you have a low credit rating, there is not much point in applying for credit, as you’re highly unlikely to be accepted. When you’re short on funds, there is a temptation to just keep applying for credit, in the hope that someone will say yes, but this is counterproductive. Making multiple applications will do more damage than good to your credit rating. It is better to refrain from making any credit applications, until you are in a better position to be accepted for credit.
- Active Credit Card – it is important that you don’t just max out your credit card, as this will make it more difficult to pay back, and it will affect your credit rating. You should aim to keep your credit card active, by spending little and paying the full amount off each month. It will reflect well on your credit score, as lenders will see that you can pay the money back that you borrow.
- Check Records – ensure you check your credit records regularly and keep on top of them. If you notice any discrepancies, make sure you get in touch with the relevant companies to inform them and ask them to rectify it. There are lots of issues with fraud so the best thing you can do is check your credit report regularly.
- Pay Bills on Time – lenders want to be assured that you are able to pay your bills, otherwise they won’t want to lend you any money. It’s as simple as that. If you are constantly defaulting on payments, it will be detrimental to your credit rating. Always aim to pay your bills on time, as this will help keep your credit records in a healthy state.