Although not as common as in the US, medical debt is something that’s growing in the UK. Whether it’s for procedures or consultations outside of the NHS, it can be expensive seeing a private practitioner. What’s more, these costs can soon escalate out of control, making it harder to pay back what you owe. In such circumstances, you might receive a letter from a company like P&J Debt Collection Services. We take a look at some simple steps you can take to deal with the debt collection service.
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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1. Know who you’re dealing with
The first thing you need to do whenever you’re faced with a debt collector is to figure out who they are, why they’re getting in touch, and whether or not they’re a legitimate company. We’ve outlined some of the key details you’ll need:
Who are P&J Debt Collection Services?
P&J Consumer Debt Services are a debt collection agency that works in the medical sector. They have over 30 years’ experience working with clinics, hospitals, and consultants to recover debts. It’s quite a unique company, as they specialise in this one particular area. As such, they have a detailed knowledge of medical debt and how to reclaim it.
The company is based in Hemel Hempstead, and their address is Maylands Business Centre, Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7ES. You can contact them on 01442 848500 or via email at email@example.com.
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Why are they contacting you?
If you’ve received a letter from P&J Debt Collection Services, you might be wondering why they’re demanding money. The most likely reason is that you’ve got an unpaid medical bill somewhere. Usually, the organisation or individual you owe the money to will have already tried to contact you about your debt before turning to a company like P&J.
Are they a real company?
It’s always a smart idea to check out any company that’s demanding money from you. In this case, you can rest assured that P&J are indeed a real and legitimate organisation. Since 2015, they have been registered with the Financial Conduct Authority with the reference number 714979. This means that they have to follow a wide range of guidelines when dealing with your debt.
It’s also worth noting that they also have a few different names. As well as P&J Consumer Debt Services and P&J Debt Collection Services, they also go by the name of Kathy Fraser Associates.
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2. Understand your situation
Now that we know about the company, it’s time to look at your current situation regarding the debt:
Is the debt yours?
The first thing you need to do is to confirm whether or not the debt actually belongs to you. In some rare circumstances, a creditor might have the wrong address on file. Similarly, someone with a similar name could be mistaken for you or vice versa. It’s important to check the full details of the debt and make sure it lines up with your own records.
Can they prove it?
One question to ask of any debt collection agency is whether or not they can prove the debt is yours. By writing a ‘prove the debt’ letter, the company has to respond with full details of what you owe and why. If they cannot do so, the debt cannot be enforced. It’s well worth checking if your creditor can prove how much you owe them.
Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.
Is it statute-barred?
Certain types of debt have an expiration date of around six years. However, there are certain circumstances that have to apply for a debt to be statute-barred. If you’ve not made a payment, made contact, or heard from your creditor in six years, the debt may have expired, meaning it’s no longer legally enforceable.
3. Know your rights
Once you’ve understood the situation surrounding your debt and whether it’s enforceable, you’ll want to get familiar with what a debt collection agency like P&J Debt Collection Services can and cannot do when dealing with it:
How are you protected?
There are several laws that protect people from mistreatment by debt collection agencies. Many of these were introduced due to unfair practices in the past. This means that a debt collector cannot:
- Speak to anyone else about your debt unless you give them permission
- Enter your home without your permission or seize your belongings
- Harass you by phone, mail, or in-person
- Claim to have legal powers that they don’t actually have
- Try and confuse or coerce you into paying by using legal jargon
What can they do?
Although there are plenty of limits to what a debt collection agency can do, there are some actions they can take. Many of these fall in line with what the original creditor can do to recover your debt, including:
- Sending you a Letter before County Court claim letter notifying that they intend to take court proceedings.
- Apply for a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you.
- Apply extra fees or interest to your debt, provided it’s in line with your original agreement.
- Petition the court to send the bailiffs to your home.
Usually, legal action is a last resort, and often only for larger sums of money. However, if you receive something like a Letter before County Court claim letter, you need to take action.
4. Deal with the situation
Once you’re familiar with everything surrounding your debt, it’s time to deal with it head-on. There are several actions you can take here:
Get in touch with your original creditor to discuss the matter. They may take a lenient view and help you come up with a means of repaying them that works for both parties. P&J Debt Collection Services might not be as lenient as the original creditor.
Arrange a payment
If you can afford to pay your debt and it’s definitely yours and still valid, you’ll need to make a payment. You can choose whether to pay off the full amount or try and arrange a repayment plan.