If card companies and loan providers are chasing you for arrears on your account or debt payments, there may be a simple and legal way to stop them and make your debt unenforceable.
It all comes back to the agreement you signed when taking out the credit – and if they still have a copy. Read on for our clear guidance and to-the-point answers.
What does the Consumer Credit Act do?
The CCA provides consumers with protection when taking out credit like loans or credit cards. If you are borrowing money in the UK, the Act automatically provides you with a high level of protection when you take out the credit and as you pay, such as the right to a cooling-off period.
It is also used to shape the terms and conditions of credit agreements.
What’s a CCA agreement?
A CCA agreement is a document relating to the credit you took out. For example, if you took out a loan, you will have signed a CCA agreement that outlines all of the details and terms of the loan under the aforementioned Act.
What’s a cca request?
Anyone who has taken out credit covered by the Act can ask for a copy of their CCA agreement. This is known as a CCA request. You may already have a copy of it, but you can ask the lender at any time to provide the CCA agreement.
You lose an automatic right to access your agreement if you have finished paying back the money you borrowed. If you are part-way through your total payments, you are legally allowed to ask for this under Sections 77,78 and 79 of the Act.
How to ask for your CCA agreement
You can phone and ask for your agreement, but the best way to ask your creditor for a copy of your CCA agreement is to put it in writing. Send them a letter requesting your CCA agreement and they have to provide it to you.
If you are unsure of how to work the letter, you could always use our free pre-written letter template to ask for your credit agreement. You’ll be able to download it, add your account info, name and address and send it off in the post, saving you time and worry.
Be aware that to ask for your agreement you will need to enclose a £1 coin inside the letter.
What happens if they don’t send the CCA agreement?
Creditors have 12 business days to respond to your letter. You may need to wait this long for them to respond. During the time it takes them to respond, they cannot take further legal action against any debt you may have with them.
If they do not respond soon enough, you could make a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What if they do send the credit agreement?
The credit card company or loan provider should reply to your letter with a true copy of the original which is clear to read. It must include all of the original terms and conditions relating to the credit agreement. However, the true copy does not have to include a date or your signature.
You may be disheartened that they still currently have a copy, meaning the debt can still be enforced. But you may choose to go down another avenue and ask for the business to freeze interest for a couple of months so you can get back on track.
They do not have to accept your proposal, but some bodies encourage them to do so. They are more likely to accept if you can prove financial difficulty, such as losing your job.
Can a debt be enforced without a credit agreement?
Now here’s the good news!
If creditors cannot provide you with a copy of the agreement, presumably because they no longer have it, any debt relating to that agreement can no longer be enforced.
The debt will still exist on your account and your credit report, but the creditor is not able to ask the court to make you pay – and subsequently cannot enforce your debts with bailiffs.
What makes a debt unenforceable?
The most common way that debts become unenforceable is when they become Statute Barred. Under the Limitations Act, any debt covered by the CCA that is at least six years old (and not repaid in part within the last six years or acknowledged in writing) becomes Statute Barred, i.e. unenforceable.
However, not being able to provide evidence of the agreement is another way debts can become unenforceable.
If your debt has become unenforceable, it is worth asking the lender to write off the debt. Amongst our template letters, we have a template to help you do just that as well!
You can find it here.
Other ways to get out of debt
If you discover that the business you borrowed from does have a copy then don’t lose hope. There are many other ways to get rid of your debts, including:
- Debt Management Plan (DMP)
- Debt Relief Order (DRO)
- Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
A DRO is suitable for those with less than £20,000 of debt and no assets. It will stop almost every business you have debts with from asking for a payment for a full year. If at the end of the year your financial situation hasn’t improved, you can get all debts included wiped.
And don’t forget free debt advice!
If all your creditors have copies of your credit agreements and you can’t make them unenforceable, you should search for debt advice from a charity. No matter how much you owe, you can contact a charity about all types of money problems and get personalised guidance and support.
And always head back to our site for more clear answers to debtor FAQs!