If you’ve entered into an insolvency agreement or, through an insolvency practitioner, you have recently sent a proposal to your creditors to enter into one, you may have received letters from Watch Portfolio Management.
That all sounds awfully confusing and you might be wondering, well who are Watch Portfolio Management and why are they contacting me?
In this guide, you’ll learn all you need to know about Watch Portfolio Management and how to deal with them should they try to make contact.
Who are Watch Portfolio Management?
Watch Portfolio Management is a trading name of IVA Watch Ltd. They provide the regulated activities of Debt Administration and Credit information services.
They are a ‘creditor agent’ who act on behalf of lenders (their clients) such as banks, building societies and asset management companies but also debt purchasers. This means they manage the portfolios of personal insolvency and debt repayment plans held by these aforementioned organisations.
As part of their activities under debt administration, Watch Portfolio Management review Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), Bankruptcy, Trust Deed and Sequestration proposals sent by Insolvency Practitioners and vote on behalf of the creditors they represent.
In addition, they also provide their clients with updates to credit files with the Credit Reference Agencies.
Is Watch Portfolio Management a Legitimate Firm?
Yes, Watch Portfolio Management are a legitimate firm based in Lisburn, Northern Island and have a team of 40 people.
IVA Watch Ltd trading as Watch Portfolio Management are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference number 709417. They can be found on the FCA register here.
Watch Portfolio Management provides the regulated activities of Debt Administration and Providing Credit Information Services. They do not perform debt collection services and are not authorised to do so.
Why is Watch Portfolio Management Contacting Me?
If you have missed payments on a bank loan, credit card, or financing from a lender or you have entered into a form of insolvency, you will only receive a letter from Watch Portfolio Management informing you of a change in beneficial ownership providing their company details.
In short, your debt has been purchased by a debt purchaser who has hired Watch Portfolio Management to manage the debt on their behalf.
When you receive a letter from Watch Portfolio Management, it should state who the original lender is and how much you owe.
If you don’t recognise the lender or the debt claimed in the letter, don’t panic. We’ll look at the steps to take in this case later in the guide.
Can I Ignore These Letters from Watch Portfolio Management and their clients?
If you ignore all letters and phone calls from the clients of Watch Portfolio Management, they will continue to send more.
What’s more, if you ignore them for long enough, they might escalate the matter to court.
Remember, Watch Portfolio Management are working on behalf of a client, so they’re not going to give up on managing the debt.
Your best course of action is to reply as soon as possible to prevent further action.
So I Need to Just Pay What They Are Asking?
Although it’s in your best interest to respond to Watch Portfolio Management, you should not pay the debt to their clients without first ensuring the debt is legitimate.
Sometimes, debt management companies and debt purchasers contact people about their debt even though there is no legal obligation for them to pay it back. So you should check whether you are legally required to pay what they’re asking before handing over a penny.
All you need to do is write to the original creditor or call them to let them know you’ve received their letter, or a letter from Watch Portfolio Management and you’ll be in touch after looking into their claim of debt further.
This will show them that you are willing to talk to them and there is no need to escalate the case further.
Will Watch Portfolio Management Take Me to Court?
Although this is a portfolio management firm and not a solicitor, they do have the power to take you to court if you don’t pay the debt owed.
Having said that, they will do all they can to retrieve the debt from you without involving the expense of courts.
Here are the steps your original lender will take to recover the debt from you:
1. Send letters
First, you’ll receive a letter letting you know you the amount owed and how to pay it back. This letter should also include a deadline for the debt to be paid by.
If you don’t respond, you’ll get further letters and calls from this firm chasing you to pay the debt.
2. Send a default notice
If letters go unanswered, you’ll get a default notice letting you know your account is being closed. If the debt isn’t paid before the account is officially closed (usually in two weeks), they may threaten legal action.
You may continue to receive letters or phone calls insisting you pay the debt owed.
3. Issue a County Court Judgement
If they fail to retrieve the debt from you, the original lender may decide to take you to court. Bear in mind this is only an option if the debt is large enough to warrant court fees.
It’s best to avoid getting to this point as court fees are usually involved, making the amount you pay higher. Also, once a County Court Judgement is given, you can no longer negotiate a monthly payment plan or reduced amount with the lender.
4. Apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order
They also have the power to apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order which will take the debt owed directly from your wages if possible.
Can Watch Portfolio Management Repossess My House?
No Watch Portfolio Management cannot repossess you house as they are only acting on behalf of another company. If the original debt was secured against your home, it is possible that your house could be repossessed by the original lender to recover the debt.
If the debt was unsecured, the lender can file for a Charging Order which secures your debt against your home. If you fail to make payments, your house can be repossessed to cover the debt.
However, this is rare and usually only filed in cases where the debt owed is substantial.
What if I’m being mistreated By Watch Portfolio Management?
Are you receiving too many phone calls or letters from the client that this debt portfolio management firm represent? Perhaps you feel pressured to pay back the debt even though you can’t afford it?
If they overstep the line, you have the right to file a complaint.
Make a Complaint Against Watch Portfolio Management.
You need to first file a complaint with the company directly and give them a chance to resolve the issue:
Post: Stuart Bradford, Unit 3-4, Lagan House, Sackville Street, Lisburn, County Antrim, BT27 4AB, Northern Ireland.
Phone: +44028 9260 0700
What to Do After Receiving a Letter from Watch Portfolio Management
You will not receive any direct contact from Watch Portfolio Management other than a letter informing you of a change in beneficial ownership providing their company details. As soon as you receive a letter from this company, here’s what you need to do:
1. Acknowledge the letter
Many people think it’s best to ignore letters from debt management companies, but this is certainly not true. You should send a quick response acknowledging you have received their letter and you’re going to look into the claims of their client.
This doesn’t mean you admit to owing money or are tied into making payments. You can even make it clear in the letter that you dispute the debt and need time to look at your options.
If possible, keep all communication in writing. This makes it easy to keep a record of everything that was said if you need to lodge a complaint later.
2. Ask for proof of the debt
When you contact Watch Portfolio Management or the clients they represent, ask for proof of the debt. They will need to send you the original signed documents showing you took out the loan, credit card, or equivalent.
If they can’t provide proof of the debt, the lender may continue to send letters insisting you pay the debt but until they can provide proof of the debt, you do not need to make a payment.
3. Check if the debt is yours
If you’re unsure whether the debt is legitimate, you can ring the original lender to get more information. This is usually a bank or other financial institution, who should have a record of either hiring a debt portfolio management company or selling your debt onto a third party debt purchaser.
You can also check your credit report to see if the debt is listed. If the debt is in your name, it will appear in your credit report and probably flag up as a black spot that is negatively affecting your score.
4. Check if the debt is Statute Barred
In England, debt becomes statute barred if:
- It’s been six years since you took on the debt and you’ve never made a payment
- Or it’s been six years since you made your last payment
If your debt is Statute Barred, you can write to Watch Portfolio Management letting them know that this is the case and you will not be making a payment.
What if I Can’t Afford to Pay Watch Portfolio Management?
If you’ve completed the steps above, you will only need to pay the debt back if:
- Watch Portfolio Management have provided proof of the debt
- The debt is listed in your name on your credit report
- The debt is not statute barred (less than six years old)
If you can’t afford to pay the debt, here are your options:
Arrange a payment plan
If you can’t afford to pay the debt as a lump sum, you may be able to arrange a monthly repayment plan with Watch Portfolio Management. If you choose this route make sure you can afford the monthly payments.
If you are not already entered into an IVA in which Watch Portfolio Management are requesting payments for, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a good option if you have multiple debts and are struggling to make your minimum payments.
A Debt Relief Order
This is another option if your debt is less than £20,000, you don’t own a home, and you have a low income.
The Snowball Method
If you have money to spare each month but are struggling to put together a plan to pay down your debts, the snowball method is a great option for you.
You are in Control
Just because you’ve received a letter from Watch Portfolio Management doesn’t mean your only option is to pay them back immediately.
As we’ve seen in this post, there are three important steps to take to ensure the debt is yours:
1. Ask for proof
2. Check your credit score
3. Check the Statute of limitations
Even if the debt is yours, there are also many options to help you if you’re struggling to pay your debt. If you’re interested in exploring more options to help you get out of debt, make sure to head to our debt management guide here.