If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you’ve received a call or letter from the debt collection agency STA International. Although this can be an unpleasant and often worrying experience, there are steps you can take to resolve the issue. However, to do so, you need the right information and advice. We take a look at some of the most common questions asked when dealing with debt letters and calls from STA International.
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.
Who is STA International?
STA International is a debt collection agency that was originally founded in New York in 1955. Since then, it has grown to have offices in Mexico, England and Scotland. As well as debt collection, they also focus on Confidential Credit Control and tracing people who have skipped invoices.
The company deals with all kinds of different clients, including both consumer and commercial. In the UK, much of their activity is for B2B debt collection and unpaid student debts. This means that they act on behalf of other companies to recover money.
Although you may not recognise the name as a business you owe money to, they’re usually collection on behalf of another creditor. Like many similar agencies, they buy bundles of bad debts at a low price and then collect them to make a profit.
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Is STA International a legitimate debt collector?
You may be wondering whether the letter or contact you’ve received is legitimate. Unfortunately, they definitely are a real company, and their contact should be taken seriously. They are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as well as a member of the Credit Services Association.
Although this means they’re a legitimate company, it also means that you have certain legal rights when dealing with them, as we’ll explore. If you do receive a letter from them, make sure you don’t simply ignore it or throw it away.
Why is STA International sending me letters?
STA International may not be a company that you’ve ever done business with before. So, receiving a letter from them saying you owe money can be an unpleasant surprise. However, there are generally reasons why they have contacted you.
Like other debt collection agencies, STA International will have either been paid to collect your outstanding debts or purchased the debt themselves. Usually, this happens when the original creditor has tried to recover the money owed and failed.
The reasons for your debt can vary, from unpaid bills and taxes to outstanding loans and credit card debt. However, once you’ve received one letter from them, it’s highly likely that you’ll receive further communication if you don’t respond.
What companies does STA International collect for?
Many different businesses and organisations used STA International as debt collectors. Some of these are well-known high street brands, while others are institutions and even government bodies. The list the collect for includes:
- Government bodies. If you have unpaid council tax, parking tickets, or HMRC tax bills, you may hear from STA International.
- High street brands. Technology companies such as EE, O2, and Virgin Media all use debt collection agencies like this one.
- Utility companies. Gas and electric companies such as United Utilities and Npower might pass your outstanding account over to STA International.
However, by far the most commonly complained about form of debt recovery from STA International is university fees. On the Trustpilot review site, STA International gets a poor rating. Many of the complaints on this site and other forums are about university debts.
What powers does STA International have?
As a debt collection agency, there are certain powers that the company has. However, these powers are no different from the original company the debt belonged to. So, they can chase you for repayment of the money you owe, but their powers are limited.
STA International is not an enforcement agency (or bailiff, as they’re commonly known). This means that, although they can visit your home with notice, they cannot take your possessions or car to pay off the debt. If they claim that they have this power, they’re being untruthful, and you can ask them to leave.
Although they can’t directly take your belongings or force their way onto your premises, they can take you to court over the debt. This means they might be able to call in the actual bailiffs, secure a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you, or get an Attachment of Earnings order against you.
What are my rights?
Thankfully, you have plenty of legal rights when it comes to dealing with debt collection agencies. The FCA regulates all such agencies, meaning there are rules and regulations they have to follow. Here are some examples of the things they can’t do:
- Contact other people, such as friends, family or employers, (or threaten to) in regards to the debt without your permission.
- Add excessive charges to your debt.
- Threaten you or pretend they have legal powers they don’t have.
- Contact you excessively or phone you outside of specific hours. They also can’t contact you against your preferences once you’ve specified them.
- Mislead you by using jargon or legalese. They also can’t trick you into paying more than you owe
Although they can visit your property with notice, debt collectors have no more powers in person than they do on the phone. They can’t enter without your permission and must leave if you ask them to.
Can STA International take my belongings?
No, debt collection agencies cannot take your personal possessions to cover the cost of the debts. The same applies to your car or other vehicles. Bailiffs do have this power, but STA International is not a bailiff.
That being said, they can take court action against you to call in bailiffs, who would then have the power to seize your possessions. It’s therefore better to deal with STA International before it reaches that point.
If someone from STA International claims that they are a bailiff and tries to enter your property or take your belongings, you can ask them to leave and make a complaint.
Can I stop them from contacting me?
You’ll find that debt collection agencies, in general, are quite persistent. They’ll continue to chase up the debts they’re collecting for, particularly if you ignore their calls and letters. However, they cannot harass you by making an unnecessary number of calls or calling at unsociable times.
The best way to stop STA International from contacting you is to contact them first. You can then discuss ways of repaying the debt or provide evidence that the debt isn’t yours or your responsibility. Once they have their money, they will stop calling and writing to you about that debt.
How can I contact STA International?
You can reach STA International via several ways, as outlined on their contact page. This gives you options to call, use the contact form, or write to them in person. They also give you options here to pay online if you so choose.
When reaching out to them, make sure you have all of the details and letters they’ve already sent you, as this will make the process easier. You should also have in mind what you’re going to say to them. If you’re going to contest the debt, you should have evidence of why it’s not your responsibility.
You can make a complaint directly to STA International, and they have a detailed complaints procedure. However, if you’re not satisfied with the outcome, you can also contact the Financial Ombudsman Service who will act as arbiters for your case.
Can I just ignore them?
Ignoring debt collection agencies is never a good idea. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, they won’t stop trying to contact you. If anything, ignoring them will make them try harder to reach you. Secondly, they may charge additional fees when trying to recover the debt.
Perhaps the most important reason for not ignoring them is the fact that they have the option of taking you to court to recover the money. This can mean that they can issue a CCJ or send the bailiffs round to take your property.
Even if the debt isn’t actually yours, your best course of action is to contact STA International and explain the situation.
Do I have to pay the money they’re asking for?
In most cases, the answer is yes. We all have to pay our debts eventually, and if you genuinely owe money, the best way of dealing with it is to pay it. However, there are some courses of action you should take before you pay:
- Get them to prove that you owe the money. The burden of proof is on STA International to prove that the debt is actually yours. You can write to them to ask for them to provide it, and per the FCA’s guidebook, they have to provide it.
- Check whether your debt is statute barred. Some debts have a time limit on them, usually six years. However, for this to apply, the creditor must not have issued a CCJ, you must not have made a payment, and you must not have admitted in writing to having the debt.
- Look at your payment options. You may not have to pay the full amount upfront. The debt agency may accept a payment plan, and there are other options too.
What if I don’t have the money?
Don’t panic if you don’t immediately have the funds available to pay. Debt collection agencies must give you sufficient time to explore your options for repayment. As well as proposing a payment plan to STA International, you also have other options:
- IVAs and Protected Trust Deeds. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, you may be able to come to an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). This allows you to combine all your debts into one and make lower payments over 60 months. Any outstanding debt at the end is written off. In Scotland, a Protected Trust Deed does similar.
- Debt management. You can get loans, debt arrangement schemes, and other plans to help you repay or write off some of your debt. You could also consider bankruptcy as a last resort.
You’ll want to carefully consider your options and get advice on this front. There are many intricacies to consider, and expert help can be hugely beneficial. If you’re taking this route, make sure to let STA International know so that they stop hounding you.
What help can I get dealing with STA International?
Because of the governing bodies that regulate STA International and other debt collection agencies, you’re never alone in dealing with them. If you feel that you are being harassed by the company or treated unfairly, you can raise a complaint. If this isn’t dealt with, you can raise it to the ombudsman.
Citizens Advice also has a page on helping you deal with debt collection agencies. They have a debt helpline that you can contact between 9am and 8pm, Monday to Friday. You can also visit or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for more help. They may be able to refer your case to Trading Standards.
Although it can seem scary when dealing with companies like this, there is help and support available. The best thing you can do is learn about how the process works and what your legal rights are.
STA International – Final Thoughts
STA International has a 2.5 Star rating on Trustpilot. This is a reflection of how stressful it can be to deal with companies in this industry. They’re often persistent, will escalate their efforts, and may even visit you at home.
However, by answering these frequently asked questions, we can hopefully help you deal with the problem head-on.
Don’t ignore correspondence from STA International, but take your time to gather all the necessary information before contacting them. Don’t let them intimidate you, and make sure you know your legal rights when dealing with them.