Stirling Park Debt Collection – Should You Pay?

Stirling Park Debt Collection is a company which offers both Sheriff Officer and debt-collection services. As Sheriff Officers, they serve court documents and enforce court orders. As debt-collectors, they work for both public agencies such as local authorities and private organizations. They also buy debts which they then aim to collect on their own behalf.

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.

What should I do if Stirling Park contacts me?

First of all, you should verify that it is genuinely Stirling Park who are contacting you. Secondly, you should verify exactly why they are contacting you. Thirdly, you should verify if their claim is enforceable. Only once you have taken all of these steps should you decide what to do next. This will depend on the exact situation.

Remember, you must take action but it’s important to keep calm when you do. There is always a way forward.

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Verifying the identity of Stirling Park

The current details for Stirling Park are as follows:

Stirling Park Llp
24 Blythswood Square
Glasgow
G2 4BG

Tel: 0141 565 5765
Fax: 0141 565 5764

officers@stirlingpark.co.uk

Company number SO300097

At present, Stirling Park usually makes calls from the number given above. They can, however, try calling from different numbers. Usually, these numbers will have an 0141 dialling code. They may send letters to any addresses they can find for you (including previous ones). They may also send representatives to any addresses they can find for you. 

Never let these representatives into your home unless they have an Exceptional Attachment Order. Be alert to the possibility that they may try to force their way in. This is illegal but the law only applies if you can prove it. If possible keep the door closed. If you must open it keep the chain on. If you don’t have a chain, only open the door enough to take through it and be alert to the possibility of someone trying to stick their foot in it.

Verify exactly why they are contacting you

Insist on clear answers to the following questions.

  • How much do they claim you owe?
  • To whom is the debt owed?
  • What is the supporting evidence that you owe the debt?
  • What do they propose as the next steps?

Verify if their claim is enforceable

Always verify if their claim is enforceable. For a claim to be enforceable, two conditions must be met:

  • Firstly, the debt has to belong to you.
  • Secondly, the debt must still qualify for collection.
Does the debt belong to you?

Does the debt belong to you?

If you think you are being pursued for a debt which belongs to someone else, or which you have already paid, then the standard course of action is to send what is known as a “prove it letter”. There are various templates you can use for this, but the most basic one is as follows.

Dear Stirling Park,

This letter is a response you your letter dated [dd/mm/yy], reference# (copy attached).

If you think that a debt exists and that the person who owes the money lives at this address, then please prove the debt in writing.

As per FCA regulations, you must stop any collections activity and correspondence until you have done this.

Yours faithfully,

[Your Name]

You can send this by email or letter. If you send it by email, then you may want to think about the email address you use. In fact, you may want to create a specific email address just for dealing with Stirling Park. If you send it by letter, then it’s advisable to use recorded delivery. In either case, it’s usually perfectly reasonable just to supply the reference number, especially if you don’t have a proper scanner and/or printer.

Think very carefully before including your phone number or handing it over if Stirling Park requests it.

Stirling Park should then respond with proof that you do owe the debt. This proof will probably consist of some of the following documents:

  • Credit application+Loan Agreement
  • Detailed statement of account
  • Copy of default notice
  • Copy of formal demand

If the debt has been sold, a statement to that effect from the original creditor, plus confirmation that this was permitted under your loan agreement (it usually is).

If Stirling Park does not respond and does not pursue further action, then you can consider the matter closed. It is, however, highly advisable to check your credit record in case the action has triggered an incorrect entry. If it has, you can request the agency/agencies to remove it.

If Stirling Park does not respond but continues to make collection attempts, you should follow up your original letter. Again, there are plenty of online templates you can follow. Here is a suggestion.

Dear Stirling Park,

COMPLAINT

On dd/mm/yy I asked you to prove that I owed a debt to [insert company name].

You have failed to do so, but are continuing to attempt collection. This is against FCA rules. Please cease your collection activities or I shall refer you to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Please also remove the any incorrect entries from my credit records.

Yours faithfully,

[Your name]

Never send a prove it letter if you have been served court documents

If you have been served court documents then you need to enter a defence within the given time frame. If you fail to do this, you may end up with a County Court Judgement being entered against you. These can be set aside, but it’s better to avoid getting them in the first place. This means that you are unlikely to have time to send a prove it letter. You need to get legal advice immediately.

Is the debt still enforceable?

If you do recognize the debt, then check if it still qualifies for collection. There are two main reasons why a debt might not qualify for collection. The first is that you have entered into some form of insolvency proceedings. The second is that the debt has become “statute-barred”, in other words, too old to collect. This usually happens if you have not paid or been contacted about the debt in the last six years (five in Scotland). It is not, however, 100% guaranteed so you should get advice from a debt counsellor.

If a debt is subject to insolvency proceedings, you just need to write and to Stirling Park and inform them of this. Again, there are plenty of online templates. Here is a suggested format.

Dear Stirling Park,

I am writing in response to a letter from you dated [dd/mm/yy], reference#/a copy is attached.

This debt was included as part of [state type of insolvency proceedings]. The [state type of insolvency proceedings] order was made on [date]. As a result, you now have no remedy in respect of this debt. Please cease all collection activity immediately or I shall make a formal complaint to you and if fail to act upon it, I shall refer you to the appropriate regulator or ombudsman.

Yours faithfully,

[Your Name]

If you think your debt is statute-barred then you can use this template for Scotland and this template for the rest of the UK.

When you do owe an enforceable debt to Stirling Park

When you owe an enforceable debt, you have two options. You can either pay it (or at least part of it) or you can go insolvent. Whichever option you take, you have the right to a certain level of dignity and protection from harassment. In turn, you must help yourself and do what you can to help others to help you. In other words, you need to keep your head out of the sand and face reality.

If you can afford to pay off the debt in full without compromising on the essentials you need for a basic standard of living, then it usually makes sense to do so. If you cannot then it is strongly recommended to seek advice from a professional debt advisor. They will understand both the law and industry practice and will have experience dealing with creditors. As a result, they will usually do a better job of negotiating with Stirling Park than you would yourself. If nothing else, they can act as a shield between you and Stirling Park.

There are two points to remember here. Firstly, it is the job of a debt advisor to help you not to judge you. Secondly, at the end of the day, creditors just want as much money as they can get out of you as quickly as they can get it out of you. If you cannot pay the full amount within the requested time-frame, then you can offer to pay a lower amount and/or to pay over a longer period. 

If you cannot afford to do that, then insolvency may be your best (indeed only) option and while it is a major decision with major implications, it is nothing to be afraid of either. In fact, it may come as a relief to you, but not to your creditors, which is why they will generally try to avoid forcing people into it – provided you show a willingness to deal with them fairly.

Can I just ignore Stirling Park

When you just ignore a debt to Stirling Park

When you just ignore a debt to Stirling Park, they will take enforcement action. This must however, be “reasonable” and stop short of harassment.

For example, Stirling Park can call you, but they can only do so at “reasonable” times. This is not defined but the ICO’s Direct Marketing Guidance suggests 8 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and 9 AM to 9 PM on Saturdays, with no calls on Sundays or bank holidays.

Stirling Park can send letters and representatives to your home, but the latter must behave reasonably. For example, they cannot intimidate, threaten or lie to you, nor can they discuss your debts with anyone else. That said, they are under no obligation whatsoever to be particularly discreet about their presence. They can also (usually) add charges, interest and penalties to the amount owed. These can quickly add up and can easily become a lot more than the original debt itself.

The law and your debt to Stirling Park

If phone calls, letters and visits fail to produce a result, Stirland Park will proceed to legal enforcement action. Here are some of the steps they can take.

They can register a default on your credit file. This hurts your credit record.

They can apply for a County Court Judgement. This hurts your credit record and can act as a first step towards further enforcement action.

If your debt with Stirling Park Llp is over £5000, they can issue a statutory demand. This can act as a first step towards petitioning the courts to make a debtor bankrupt.

They can make an earnings or bank arrestment. This means that they can have your employer or bank send them money directly from your wages/bank account.

They may have the “right to offset”. This happens when you have two separate accounts with the same organization. If you are in credit in one account, this credit can be used to “offset” the debt in the other. Be aware that the same organization may trade under different brand names. For example, RBS and Natwest are two brands owned by the same company.

They may apply for an Attachment of Property Outside the Home Order. This means that they can take property from outside your home and sell it to cover your debt.

They may apply for an Exceptional Attachment Order. This means that they can enter your home to remove property and sell it to cover your debt. This is the only time they are allowed to enter your home without your invitation.

For completeness, debt collection agencies such as Stirling Park are unlikely to be interested in getting the best price for your assets. This means that it is usually better to sell assets yourself and use the money to pay Stirling Park than to have Stirling Park seize your assets.

A summary of what you need to know about Stirling Park

Stirling Park recovers money for themselves and for other organizations. If they contact you it is important to verify who they are and what they want. You also need to know if their claim is valid and enforceable. If it is, you either need to resolve it promptly or get advice from a debt counsellor. If you ignore your debt to Stirling Park there are several enforcement measures they can take and it is better to avoid being on the receiving end of them.

References

CONC 7.3 Treatment of customers in default or arrears (including repossessions): lenders, owners and debt collectors

CONC 7.9 Contact with customers

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