The Statute Barred Debt Scam is just one example of how debt purchasing companies make a tidy bit of money because the law is so woolly about what is allowed and what is not. When a legal point is so fuzzy that lawyers may argue about it for hours it means that this is an area which has rich pickings for the debt spivs. They can interpret the law in the way which favours their own activities and leave the areas of doubt in the minds of their victims to be dealt with by the usual fear, uncertainty and ignorance of the law which are the debt spiv’s trusted allies.
What Is A Statute Barred Debt?
A Statute Barred Debt is a debt which cannot be recovered by a creditor through legal action because the time limit imposed by the various limitations regulations has been exceeded. In England and Wales this is six years; in Scotland this is five years. Clearly a debt cannot purposefully go on forever and ever, and so some kind of time frame has had to be imposed and case law suggested that the current limitations laws would eventually be applied to this. In England and Wales this is also what is alluded to when a debt is cleared from one’s credit record after six years.
A debt is considered Statute Barred if the creditor has not contacted the debtor about the account for a period of six years (five in Scotland) and no further action has been taken.
However, a Statute Barred debt may be made the subject of a CCJ under certain conditions and this will alter its status accordingly. There are plenty of grey areas where debt spivs and their wily lawyers can and will put a legal spanner in the works rather than doing nothing.
There is a lot of uncertainty about Statute Barred debt in the minds of the public, and the debt spivs rely on this to turn a nice profit.
To quote from the excellent Debtquestions site, with a Statute Barred debt,
the creditor is not able to take any legal action against the debtor in order to recover the debt. It is considered unfair if a creditor or debt collector misleads the debtor into believing the debt is still legally recoverable. It is also considered an unfair practice if the creditor or debt collector press for payment after the debtor has stated they will not be paying the money owed. This could amount to harassment contrary to Section 40(1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1970.
But as we know, DCAs do not always follow the law. Some are ignorant of it, and many knowingly break it. The following is how a debt purchasing company would make use of such debts within the mechanism of the existing debt purchasing patterns.
How Do Debt Purchasers Profit From Statute Barred Debts?
Here is a scenario of how a debt purchasing company will make a great deal of money for doing very little, by the crafty use of Statute Barred debts.
Statute Barred debts will be worth very little on the open market. Certainly they will be much less than the usual 10p in the pound which delinquent debtor accounts are usually sold for once the original lender has written it off and collected on the insurance and the tax loss. (Selling on the data relating to debts which thus no longer exist is a matter all to itself; suffice it to say that the ICO considers this an unfair practice.)
Statute Barred debts would usually be peddled for about 3p in the pound. Such dealings will be kept very “hush hush” because they are so dodgy. But that doesn’t seem to stop the debt spivs from doing it, from what we see in the consumer forums.
So let us take a scenario where a thousand delinquent accounts are known to be over 6 years old. Their value has been considerably reduced because of their age. But some money can still be squeezed out of them on the Statute Barred market. And if there’s money to be made – any money – then the debt spivs will be there!
Let’s say that these thousand delinquent and aged accounts average a debt of £2,000 each. That makes the original value of the accounts £2 million. But because they are Statute Barred debts they can be only sold on to a DCA for 3 pence in the pound, so the debt purchasing company coughs up £60,000 for them, and the firm who sold them (perhaps a bank, but more likely another DCA or debt purchaser after all this time) will be glad because they’ve managed to ditch the rubbish they have on their books and are also £60,000 richer.
The DCA or debt purchasing company who deals in Statute Barred debts will be of the grubbiest sort, but that hasn’t stopped them before. Now comes the master plan.
The DCA who has purchased the Statute Barred debts now has a commodity with a face value of £2 million as long as the right victims can be found.
The DCA will then send letters out to the names and addresses associated with the Statute Barred debts. The letter says that the DCA are collecting the debt on behalf of the bank, or whoever the original lender was. But, out of goodwill, they are willing to accept only half the original account value in each case. If only 10 percent respond by paying up half the money then the DCA will have made £100,000. Let’s say that the cost of sending a thousand letters was £3,000 including posting, envelopes, staff costs and overheads. Add the £60,000 for the cost of buying all this nonsense in the first place. That’s a nice profit of £37,000 for doing very little.
Turn this into an industry by doing this kind of thing every month and you have Statute Barred profits on an industrial scale. Trebles and writs all round!
But Get The Right Suckers List …
It is known that DCAs will send out mass mailings to people speculatively (and without knowing with any certainty that the recipients of these letters have any connection with the specific debts with which they are confronted). Stories of these abound, and the debts in question may or may not be more than 6 years old. It is not beyond the bounds of the imagination that the debt purchasing industry will have built special “suckers lists” much in the same way that other conmen have – the kind of circular that is sent out to people telling them that they have won the lottery and that they must simply pay £25 administration fee in order to secure the money into their accounts (even though they may not even play the lottery). There are more of these scams around than ever before.
What if a suckers list was developed of people who habitually fell for the speculative debt scam? Such a list, when used in connection with a bulk-buy of Statute Barred debts, could make a fortune for the debt purchasing companies.
Such a list would not be cheap. Compiled, perhaps, over many years, it would be worth quite a sum if the people on it had sufficient “sucker value”.
So let’s say a list of 2,000 people was complied in this way (a ratio of 2:1). If 25 percent of people responded positively by paying half the original value of the account, the amount raised would be £500,000. The profits for the DCA would be over £400,000 each time an exercise like that was pulled off.
Statute Barred Debts Are Unenforceable
Clearly, statute barred debts are the most obviously unenforceable type of debt there is, on the grounds of their age (over 6 years old in England and Wales; over 5 years old in Scotland).
There are services which will check if you have debts which may be unenforceable, but most of them have gained a bad reputation by charging up-front fees of £295 and similar figures and then following up with very little which can be described as work.
We suggest you undertake this work yourself (see the home page). It isn’t difficult but it can take a lot of time!
Debt Collectors Who Use The Statute Barred Debt Scam
Because this is an area of activity which is actually illegal it is not surprising that there is no definitive data on which DCAs or debt purchasing companies actually specialise in the statute barred debts scam.
However, one indicator of which DCAs operate statute barred debt the most is by looking on a prominent search engine and seeing the incidence of mentions of the term “statute barred” in close proximity to the name of a DCA or debt purchasing company.
In Google the search operator would be:
“statute barred” + “Name of DCA”
with the name of the company in place of the “Name of DCA” search string. This brings up the approximate number of web pages where these two terms exist on the same page.
Try doing this with any of the firms listed to the left, and you’ll get a pretty good indication of which of these little tykes doesn’t mind breaking the law to turn an extra bob or thousand.
And just in case m’learned friends at Sue Grabbit & Runne are reaching for their quills at the present moment, it is only fair to mention that the results this method brings forth would be produced by a search engine (in this case Google) and not by this website or its authors. So fire your writs in their direction and see what happens!
The Internet is such a wonderful thing!
Permanent Relief From Debt Collectors’ Letters and Phone Calls
Apart from tearing into the never-never world of a so-called debt consolidation loan (which, in our humble opinion, only makes matters worse two or three years down the road) is a debt management programme. There are many different types and our experts will be able to give independent advice to ensure that you get the best one for your own circumstances. This is the only way to permanently stop those phone calls, letters and threats from debt spivs. Debt management plans include the ever popular Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) which can write off most of your total unsecured debt.