Have you recently received a letter from Shulmans Debt Recovery asking you to pay outstanding debts?
The first thing you should know is that Shulmans Debt Recovery is a legitimate debt recovery agency and you should not ignore their letters or calls – even if you know 100% that they have been mistaken.
Receiving letters out of the blue telling you that you owe debt can be shocking and cause significant stress and worry.
Understanding more about Shulmans, how they work and what you should do can put you at ease. And that’s what this Shulmans Debt Recovery 2020 guide is here for.
But Breaking News…
But before you go any further, there is bigger news that you need to be aware of. Since April 2020, Shulmans have swapped names and are now known as Knights Professional Services Limited, or Knights for short. If you previously had letters from Shulmans and are now receiving letters from Knights, they are the same debt collection agency.
First, Who Are Knights/Shulmans Debt Recovery?
Knights offer a wide range of services to individuals and businesses, from taxation planning to immigration. One of their many services is debt collection on behalf of their clients. They still operate from the Shulmans Leeds address.
Their debt collection services are legitimate and open to anyone or any business. However, most of their clients are utility companies. If you have owed money to any of the following types of companies, there is a good chance that they are enquiring about debt owed to them:
- Mobile phone contract providers
- Electricity suppliers
- Gas companies
- Credit card companies
- Personal loan providers
- Trades companies
This is not a complete list and any debt they are informing you about could be from elsewhere. They will often inform you of debt via a letter, sometimes a phone call.
One forum user has confirmed that Shulmans are acting on behalf of Southern Water:
“On receiving the summons, I contacted southern water to see if this could be sorted direct with them as Shulmans LLP was acting on behalf of them.”
If you have debts with Southern Water, Shulmans are likely contacting you on behalf of the water company. This poster was not able to communicate directly with the water company.
Should You Ignore a Knights or Shulmans Debt Recovery Letter?
Absolutely not. The worst thing you could do in this situation is ignore their letters or any communications. By taking action you could resolve the matter and you may not even have to pay the debt.
Some people who rightly believe that they do not owe the debt think ignoring it is the right thing to do – but taking action even in these situations is best.
You’ve Received a Shulmans Debt Letter, What Now?
If you have received a letter from Shulmans Debt Collection, the first thing to ask is if the letter proves you have a debt. No debt can be enforced without proof, such as a signed mobile contract or a signed agreement with a household utility supplier.
If the letter does not prove the debt, i.e. it simply tells you that you owe a certain amount without evidence, you can write back to Shulmans/Knights and ask them to prove the debt to you. This is known as a “Prove the Debt Letter” and is a well-known strategy throughout the finance industry.
Tips to Write a “Prove the Debt Letter” to Shulmans Solicitors Leeds
The purpose of this letter is to get proof that you owe the debt. If you are 100% sure that you do not owe the debt, simply sending this letter may be the end of their communications. Even if you know what debt they are referring to, it is still worth sending this debt because they cannot enforce it if they have not got the proof.
Sample letters are available for you to download online, but they are not necessary. You can always write your own letter by stating:
- That you received their letter
- That you would like proof that you owe the debt
- That they must not contact you again unless they are providing the proof
- If they do contact you again without proof then it is considered harassment
- You will report them if they do make contact without proof
It is recommended to keep a copy of this letter and not to sign it. Instead, simply print your name. A signature could be used against you to manufacture fake proof of the debt, and although it is unlikely, it has happened to some people before.
Why Shulmans Debt Recovery May Not Write Back
Knights/Shulmans Debt Collection may not write back to your prove the debt letter. This is because they could have sent the letter to the wrong person due to identical names or the wrong address.
Some debt collection agencies will use a scatter-gun approach by sending their letters to everyone with the same name that they possibly can. They do this in hope that their letter will make someone pay, but it doesn’t often work.
They may not write back because they have no proof. Their client who they are collecting the debt for may not have access to a signed agreement for whatever reason, and in such an event, the communications should stop.
Knights Debt Recovery Replied without Proof
Any replies you get from April 2020 are likely to come from Knights instead of Shulmans. Just because they are operating under a different name, does not mean the rules have changed. They still cannot contact you without proving the debt they stated you had in their initial letter, from either Shulmans Debt Recovery or Knights.
If they reply without proof, you have three options:
- Keep their return letter without proof and ignore it
- Contact them and tell them they have harassed you
- Report them to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for harassment (supply evidence)
You may choose to report them whether you reply to Knights/Shulmans Debt Recovery or not. The FCA has provided easy-to-follow guidance on how to report debt collection agencies.
They Replied with Proof of the Debt
If Shulmans Debt Recovery replied to the prove the debt letter with real proof that you owe the debt, you need to take further action. If their proof has the wrong signature due to mistaken identity, you need to let them know.
If the debt is yours and you are aware of it, the next step you can take is to buy yourself some time to think about your options. To do this, call Shulmans Debt Recovery/Knights and tell them that you are assessing your options.
Shulmans are required to respect your wishes and give you time to research options. If they do not, it could be classed as harassment.
Similarly, you can request to be contacted via a certain method or not contacted at specific times of the day. But you must communicate this with Knights first.
Just because they proved the debt does not give them permission to:
- Call you repeatedly throughout the day
- Call you at work without your permission
- Disclose your debts to other people, including family members
- Apply pressure for you to choose a debt solution
- Use confusing jargon you cannot understand
What Happens If You Don’t Pay the Debt?
We might not be able to pay the debt for a number of reasons. Ending the dialogue and hoping that Knights Debt Collection will go away is not a wise move.
Knights/Shulmans Debt Recovery Agency could chase the debt further and issue a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you. This could result in bailiffs coming to your home and taking goods away.
However, they cannot send their own field agents to your home and pretend to be bailiffs. They do not have these powers and it is illegal for them to give the impression that they do.
If workers claiming to be from Shulmans Debt Recovery or Knights Professional Services turn up at your home, you do not have to talk with them or allow them on your property.
Sometimes You DON’T Have to Pay!
Even if you owe the debt, it is possible not to have to pay because of rules set forth in the Limitation Act 1980. The legislation states that debts that are six years old in England do not have to be paid back – also known as statute barred – if certain conditions have been met. All of the following must apply:
- The creditor has not placed a CCJ for the debt
- You have not paid any of the debt in the last six years. If you make a payment the six-year timeline restarts
- You have not acknowledged the debt for the last six years. Acknowledgement means agreeing you have the debt in a letter or asking for a payment plan.
An example of how this works can be found using the MoneySavingExpert forum. They poster writes:
“in 2012 I had a letter from a debt collector for an outstanding balance of 891.93. I contacted them with a proposal and never had a reply […] I haven’t heard anything in 6 years up until recently when i started receiving letters […] I have today received a letter from someone called Shulmans a LETTER BEFORE COURT ACTION “
This person did acknowledge the debt in 2012 so the debt could not be statute barred for the following six years (until 2018). At this point, there is no CCJ for the debt. Therefore, even though they acknowledged the debt in 2012, six years has passed (message posted in 2019) and the debt should be statute barred.
What If Your Shulmans Debt Is Not Statute Barred?
If the debt is not statute barred, you should aim to pay off the debt. Even if you are not able to pay the figure they want. Starting a conversation with Knights will likely help you come up with a payment plan. After all, Knights want the money and are willing to wait if it means getting the money back for their clients.
To help you come up with a payment plan that works for you. You may want to speak with one of the many great UK debt charities, such as Step Change. Their professionals offer free advice and support, and in some cases, they will even speak to the debt collection agency on your behalf.
IVAs Are Another Great Debt Solution
If you are unable to pay off the money owed to Shulmans Debt Recovery because you have another outstanding debt, and the total of your debts exceed £1700, there may be an easier solution that will save you money.
That money-saving solution is known as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). Here is a thorough guide on how an IVA can make you debt free and save you money.
Alternatively, here are the basics:
- IVAs are contracts made by companies (you cannot make one with Shulmans yourself)
- They consolidate your debts into one payment
- You must be able to repay around £100 back each month
- They usually last for five years
- After five years unpaid debts are completely wiped – and you are debt free again!
Before deciding on an IVA, it is worth researching everything about this debt solution using the linked guide above. Other debt solution strategies are available, but the best one for you will depend on your circumstances.
Debt charities are also a great source to help you understand the different options available.
Key takeaways for Dealing with Shulmans Debt Recovery/Knights
Whatever you do, the golden rule is to not ignore an initial letter received by Shulmans, Knights or any other debt collection agency. Use the law to your advantage by asking for proof, and if you do owe the debt, know that there are many options at your disposal, including:
- Agreeing to a payment plan
- Debt charity support
- Other debt solutions
- Statute barred debts may mean you don’t have to pay at all