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Consumer Rights and Harassment

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 20 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights Harassment Debt

Consumer rights and harassment issues are a subject that contains as many myths as there are facts. Harassment will usually take the form of credit or loan companies applying pressure to those that are unable to pay their debts. Problems occur when disreputable companies use underhanded methods to recover money designed to instill fear into the debtor.

Debt Collection Scare Tactics

Debt collection agencies will bank on the debtor’s lack of consumer rights knowledge when it comes to collecting debts. This is not to say that all debt collection agencies will use scare tactics to collect debts. There are reputable companies that know some methods cannot be used to recover debts. However, there are still a large number of companies that will use the “any means necessary” method to recover monies owed. These companies use methods designed to instill fear into the debtor with no thought of the stress caused to the debtor.

Consumer Rights and Debt

If a consumer has fallen behind or is unable to pay their debts then a strict process must be followed by the debt company. The debt recovery process is strictly controlled under the Consumer Credit Act and the first step taken must be a letter of default to the debtor. The default letter must contain details of any breach of contract and the steps that must be taken to rectify this breach. No further action can be taken by the collection agency unless the letter of default has been sent to the debtor.

Post Default Letter Process

If the default letter has been sent and no steps have been taken to remedy the breach of contract then the next step of the process will begin. This can either take the form of court action or a payment arrangement can be made with the debtor. An arrangement means that a satisfactory agreement has been reached regards repayments between the debtor and the collection agency. This is the point where harassment usually comes into play between debt collectors and debtors.

The Debt Collector’s Powers

Basically, debt collectors have no legal right whatsoever to use scare tactics to demand money that is owed to them. They are not court appointed bailiffs and do not have the same legal recover powers. This is where harassment methods usually begin; debt collectors know these methods are not permitted by law but will bank on the debtor’s lack of consumer rights knowledge. There are number of methods that debt collectors will use to instill fear in the hope of recovering money, nearly all of which are illegal.

Debt Collection Tactics

When it comes to recovering money disreputable debt collectors will use methods including:

  • Continual phone calls to the debtor’s home or office
  • Threats of taking the matter to a criminal court when the only court action can be the civil courts
  • Arrange home visits without the debtor’s permission, this is not permitted
  • Threaten to repossess the debtor’s goods without a court order, again this is not permitted
  • Use threatening language either over the telephone, by letter or in person
  • Threaten to publicly reveal debts
  • Send letters that look as if they have been issued by the courts
  • Contact the debtor’s employers with the intention of causing embarrassment

Illegal Harassment

All of the above methods used by some collection agencies are in fact not permitted under the Consumer Credit Act. However, disreputable collectors know that placing debtors in a state of fear or threatening to embarrass them will have the desired effect. Debtors that are being subjected to this kind of harassment do have a legal right to report these agencies and the consequences to the collectors can be severe. By standing up and enforcing consumer rights debtors can stop these types of underhanded scare tactics from continuing.

Who to Contact

Debtors that are being harassed should keep a diary of all contact between the debt collectors and themselves. They should then contact their local Trading Standards office with the diary of harassment and all letters sent by the collectors. The Trading Standards office will follow up the matter and do have the power to issue verbal warnings or proceed with criminal prosecutions against the debt collection agencies. Consequences can also include the debt collection agency having their credit licence revoked by the Office of Fair Trading.

Harassment by debt collection agencies can place debtors under severe mental strain. These types of debt collecting methods are against the law and should not be tolerated by consumers. This type of harassment will only end by the debtor standing up to the disreputable collectors and enforcing their consumer rights.

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[Add a Comment]
Hello! I hope you may be able to help me with some advice.I am looking to take legal action against a debt collecting agency that opened a CCJ under my name for a debt already paid, without informing me, failed to inform the law company representing them and of course the Court.I found out when trying to rent a flat as I have failed the financial check and being 7 months pregnant this came as a shock.3 A&E visits later,lots of scans, test and baby monitoring ended in induced labor, baby being forced to come by Emergency C section after 4 days of torment(long story short). They have issed a letter regarding the situation but the damage was already done. My question is: Can a sue them and am I entitled to any compensation? Have to mention my credit score damaged because of it, but the main issue is that my baby was in danger because of their action or lack of it. Many many thanks in advance.
CGG - 20-Mar-17 @ 5:12 PM
Hello, I have just spoke to a collection company which has some how been emailing my mums work email address? When I asked how they got this email address they couldn't give me an answer? And also the debt is not shown anywhere on my credit file, is there anything I can do about this?
Ben - 8-Mar-17 @ 2:12 PM
Hi ...my daughter has a debt she hasn't paid and since she has left home and living with friendsWe have received a few debt letters Iher name, but these had no address or name where they were from so I had to open them to find out who the letters were from. I returned them back with a note saying 'recipient dies not live at this address anymore' ...however this week i got another letter addressed to her notifying of them coming in 10days to retrieve money. I text the number to let them know that she doesn't live here anymore, I had no reply. Just wanted to know my rights in this matter as a mother.
NTD - 1-Feb-17 @ 9:22 PM
Upset debt! - Your Question:
Hi I just want to know if this is allowed. I have a debt that I am thinking of declaring bankrupt for as I can't pay it however the debt collectors have been chasing after me and today they went on my face book page and contacted one of my boyfriends friends (who I am not even friends with o. Facebook) and asked about me and sent their details to him to pass on to me. So now people I don't even know well are being contacted in regards to my debt. I feel so low embarrassed I just with I wasn't alive!! Are they legally allowed to do that?

Our Response:
No, make a complaint to Facebook.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Nov-16 @ 1:50 PM
Hopeful7 - Your Question:
I subscribed to a dating site elite singles and I had a new card issued during membership so as a result the card they had became invalid. I did not notify them of my dissatisfaction of the site as I soon forgot I had membership and the due date for renewal. As now I have received threats of assigning a collection agent to collect the subscription due under the recurring payment scheme and affecting my credit rating if I don't pay. What rights do I have and what can I do

Our Response:
If you didn't cancel the membership officially, you will be responsible for the payments. It would be best to pay these, cancel your membership officially and avoid any further action.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Nov-16 @ 12:16 PM
Hi I just want to know if this is allowed.. I have a debt that I am thinking of declaring bankrupt for as I can't pay it however the debt collectors have been chasing after me and today they went on my face book page and contacted one of my boyfriends friends (who I am not even friends with o. Facebook) and asked about me and sent their details to him to pass on to me. So now people I don't even know well are being contacted in regards to my debt. I feel so low embarrassed i just with I wasn't alive!! Are they legally allowed to do that?
Upset debt! - 7-Nov-16 @ 9:24 AM
I subscribed to a dating site elite singles and I had a new card issued during membership so as a result the card they had became invalid .I did not notify them of my dissatisfaction of the site as I soon forgot I had membership and the due date for renewal .As now I have received threats of assigning a collection agent to collect the subscription due under the recurring payment scheme and affecting my credit rating if I don't pay .What rights do I have and what can I do
Hopeful7 - 6-Nov-16 @ 9:52 PM
Zaara - Your Question:
Hi, I am contacting you in regards to a debt that belongs to my nephew. He took out a mobile phone contract and cancelled it early. The phone company pursued the debt he cancelled. The phone company started to chase him for the debt of £300. When he cancelled the debt, he was suffering from a lot of mental health issues and the threats from debt collectors drove him to suicide. He made several attempts to commit suicide and has now been admitted to a mental health hospital.We contacted the debt collectors and provided evidence of his mental health issues; letters from his mental health assessment team and the medications he was taking. Regardless they are still chasing him for the debt, in fact to our shock they increased by another £200.Please can you advise if the debt collection agencies can legally pursue this using these tactics? If someone does not have the mental capacity to pay this debt, then how can they chase him for this debt?We have requested the debt collector to put the debt recovery on hold or to put it aside until my nephew had recovered fully but our request was ignored.Surely these methods are against their code of conduct? Please help as I am not sure of what avenues to take to help my nephew.Thank youZaara

Our Response:
Have you tried the financial ombudsman?
CivilRightsMovement - 28-Oct-16 @ 2:02 PM
Hi, I am contacting you in regards to a debt that belongs to my nephew. He took out a mobile phone contract and cancelled it early. The phone company pursued the debt he cancelled. The phone company started to chase him for the debt of £300. When he cancelled the debt, he was suffering from a lot of mental health issues and the threats from debt collectors drove him to suicide. He made several attempts to commit suicide and has now been admitted to a mental health hospital. We contacted the debt collectors and provided evidence of his mental health issues; letters from his mental health assessment team and the medications he was taking. Regardless they are still chasing him for the debt, in fact to our shock they increased by another £200. Please can you advise if the debt collection agencies can legally pursue this using these tactics? If someone does not have the mental capacity to pay this debt, then how can they chase him for this debt? We have requested the debt collector to put the debt recovery on hold or to put it aside until my nephew had recovered fully but our request was ignored. Surely these methods are against their code of conduct? Please help as I am not sure of what avenues to take to help my nephew. Thank you Zaara
Zaara - 27-Oct-16 @ 10:45 AM
dave - Your Question:
I have a dept and they keep texting my mother who I havent live with for ten years its at least once a week is this a loud? The dept was recent so I dont know how they got her number

Our Response:
No they should not be pursuing the debt against anyone other than the debt holder. Check that you didn't give yuor mother's name as a guarantor etc.
CivilRightsMovement - 27-Sep-16 @ 11:58 AM
I have a dept and they keep texting my mother who I havent live with for ten years its at least once a week is this a loud? The dept was recent so I dont know how they got her number
dave - 26-Sep-16 @ 12:33 AM
annie - Your Question:
Hi ive had a debt collector letter sent to our caravan site for a chalet water bill ive never owned the chalet so dont know why im getting the bill what should I do

Our Response:
Is the water included in the rent payments? Contact you landlord in the first instance to clarify.
CivilRightsMovement - 12-Sep-16 @ 11:27 AM
hi ive had a debt collector letter sent to our caravan site for a chalet water bill ive never owned the chalet so dont know why im getting the bill what should i do
annie - 9-Sep-16 @ 3:41 PM
Shaz - Your Question:
Hi my sisters ex husband had a o2 contract out we used my name as he had bad credit rating but it always came out of his bank account. He cancelled the account early and I've been getting debt collectors sending me letters for it. Do I have to pay it? We didn't know he cancelled it but when me and my sister were due for an upgrade it went through ok and I told them I didn't want the other phone renewed and nothing was said. And he won't pay it either ???? please help really don't know what to do? Can I just ignore the letters?

Our Response:
Answered below on the first post.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Sep-16 @ 11:37 AM
Shaz - Your Question:
Hi my sisters ex husband had an o2 phone and account out with me being used as I had a great credit rating and he didn't. They since split up and he cancelled the contract early and I having been getting letters from debt collectors telling me I owe them the money. The bill always came out of his bank account but since I was still able to upgrade my phone and my sisters phone and nothing was said to me about it. Please help it's driving me insane and he's refusing to pay it I don't want this to affect my credit rating where do I stand?

Our Response:
If you allowed the contract to be taken in your name, it's your debt. You will have to try and resolve this between you or pay the debt and then take him to the small claims court to recover it.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Sep-16 @ 11:35 AM
Hi my sisters ex husband had a o2 contract out we used my name as he had bad credit rating but it always came out of his bank account. He cancelled the account early and I've been getting debt collectors sending me letters for it. Do I have to pay it? We didn't know he cancelled it but when me and my sister were due for an upgrade it went through ok and I told them I didn't want the other phone renewed and nothing was said. And he won't pay it either ???? please help really don't know what to do? Can I just ignore the letters?
Shaz - 7-Sep-16 @ 12:44 PM
Hi my sisters ex husband had an o2 phone and account out with me being used as I had a great credit rating and he didn't. They since split up and he cancelled the contract early and I having been getting letters from debt collectors telling me I owe them the money. The bill always came out of his bank account but since I was still able to upgrade my phone and my sisters phone and nothing was said to me about it. Please help it's driving me insane and he's refusing to pay it I don't want this to affect my credit rating where do I stand?
Shaz - 7-Sep-16 @ 12:34 PM
Annie - Your Question:
I keep recieving debt letters for my dead exhusband I gave my address because they said they needed one to close his accounts they are refusing to remove my address and keep harrassing me the debts are nothing to do with me I am still grieving and getting depresssed I have had nightmares since he died 5 months ago.

Our Response:
You say ex husband. Had you separated when he died? If so you should not be responsible for any debts other than joint accounts/mortgage etc that you still held together.
CivilRightsMovement - 25-Aug-16 @ 12:18 PM
I keep recieving debt letters for my dead exhusband i gave my address because they said they needed one to close his accounts they are refusing to remove my address and keep harrassing me the debts are nothing to do with me i am still grieving and getting depresssed i have had nightmares since he died 5 months ago.
Annie - 22-Aug-16 @ 6:40 PM
In 2015 I received a letter from a debt collection agency saying I have failed to re-pay First Utility. At this time, My payments to First Utility were via direct debit so I couldn't understand how I owed them any more money. I called First Utility who said they have accidentally credited my account by £300. I informed them that this dos not happen but they wanted me to send proof via a copy of my bank statement for the month in which the supposed money was transferred. Much to my annoyance, I sent them my bank statement showing I had not received any money and they finally cancelled the debt collection agency and closed the case out. Yesterday, I received an automated voicemail from a debt collection agency stating I need to call them back stating a reference number. When I called them they stated I owed First Utility £300. I told them this is not correct and they have put the case on hold for 5working days. I then called First Utility who told me that they are still chasing the £300 from last year! I told them this issue was sorted and they should have all the proof they need. They then asked me to send them a copy of my bank statement through to prove it again! I refused and said they will have to figure it out as its their problem. Do I have any grounds to sue them for a) providing my personnel details to a debt collection agency and b) causing me a great deal of stress for something i haven't done?
Nat - 28-Jul-16 @ 6:34 AM
My brothers car has been in the garage/workshop for 3 and a half months waiting for a part to be delivered (they have said none have been available) for his ford focus. Where does he stand in getting the company to payout its working value instead of getting the car back? They currently value it as a non-runner as they have took the part out and made it this way until a new part comes. Thanks
dhan - 9-Jun-16 @ 9:48 PM
Hema- Your Question:
Sold my car privately 4.3.16. Notified insurance company who requested proof of sale. Sent my car documents to DVLA notifying them of sale with buyers information detailed on form.Insurance company chasing payments, I've paid 3 already despite not having my car.Cancelled my dd now, they want proof, DVLA still not sent receipt. I'm told insurance company don't need receipt and I can stop my insurance whenever but company claim not. They plan to add £30 on top of my next instalment today.I am calling DVLA today and insurance company. Can you please help and advice? Hema

Our Response:
You can usually cancel your insurance whenever you choose to do so. Which insurance company are you using? All insurance companies have access to vehicle check information so they should be able to establish online whether you own a vehicle or not.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Jun-16 @ 12:31 PM
Sold my car privately 4.3.16. Notified insurance company who requested proof of sale.Sent my car documents to DVLA notifying them of sale with buyers information detailed on form. Insurance company chasing payments, I've paid 3 already despite not having my car. Cancelled my dd now, they want proof, DVLA still not sent receipt. I'm told insurance company don't need receipt and I can stop my insurance whenever but company claim not. They plan to add £30 on top of my next instalment today. I am calling DVLA today and insurance company. Can you please help and advice? Hema
Hema - 7-Jun-16 @ 7:26 AM
Didi - Your Question:
My partner lives with me. The house is in my name and everything in it save for his clothes etc is mine. His bank details are registered at my adress and he is registered here with the council. He owes the halifax amongst others money and his debts have been sent to an agency. Am I at risk of loosing my house and/or possessions?

Our Response:
This is what Experian says "Unless you share a financial connection with any of them - for example, a joint mortgage - friends and family have no impact on your credit report. Just living with someone doesn't create a financial connection. If you do have a financial connection with someone lenders may look at their credit report as well as yours when you apply for new credit, as their circumstances could affect your ability to make repayments."
CivilRightsMovement - 10-May-16 @ 9:46 AM
My partner lives with me. The house is in my name and everything in it save for his clothes etcis mine.His bank details are registered at my adress and he is registered here with the council. He owes the halifax amongst others money and his debts have been sent to an agency. Am I at risk of loosing my house and/or possessions?
Didi - 7-May-16 @ 9:24 AM
Paul - Your Question:
I let the ex wife use my bank account to obtain a o2 mobile, the only contact I had with them was to say she was allowed to use my account, I never agreed to any part of the phone verbally or written, yet their trying to chase me for the debtJust because I allowed my account to be used, does that make me liable?

Our Response:
It sounsd as though the contract might be in your name, as it's your bank account details that were used. You will need to ask the phone company for a copy of the original contract and its terms etc.
CivilRightsMovement - 27-Apr-16 @ 12:00 PM
I let the ex wife use my bank account to obtain a o2 mobile, the only contact I had with them was to say she was allowed to use my account, I never agreed to any part of the phone verbally or written, yet their trying to chase me for the debt Just because I allowed my account to be used, does that make me liable?
Paul - 26-Apr-16 @ 12:20 PM
charlotte - Your Question:
Hi, my mother recieved a letter a few days ago. she just opened it as its her home and when she did it was addressed to my abusive ex partner. He has never lived at that address so very odd. the letter is from a secondary debt collector. This must mean he has taken out a loan or something under an address he has never lived at!!! is that not illegal??what can I do?

Our Response:
Write back to the company that sent the letter asking them for more details and mention that you think it's the result of fraudulent activity. Then report it to you local police for further investigation.
CivilRightsMovement - 25-Apr-16 @ 11:34 AM
Jill - Your Question:
Hello I am being harrassed for a debt I have nothing to do with! An error was made by talk talk where they selected my initial instead of my mothers for a phone account. My self and my mother informed them that the account is hers and and not mine and she has always paid the bill through her bank account. We followed procedure varies times to inform them via their internal forms and via letters that they need to change the name/initial but they claim they never received them (we sent atleast 3) fast forward a few years and there is an outstanding amount for some equipment they say my mother kept from them and the bills/debt is in my name! They have been pursuing me through all my addresses and causing me a lot of stress! My last attempt to write to them was last July 2015 with two signed letters from my mother and myself explaining once again that the debt is not mine. They previously told me that the debt was written off anyway but I wanted it removed from my name and credit file. When I wrote to them they replied saying the issue was out of their hands as it was with a debt collector now. I have since been written to by another debt collector seeking the outstanding amount! I'm very distressed about it what can I do? I want to sue them for harassment too!

Our Response:
A solicitor's letter to the debt collector might be effective. Is the debt a valid debt belonging to your mother (albeit with the wrong name)? How have they managed to find your subsequent addresses?
CivilRightsMovement - 25-Apr-16 @ 11:23 AM
hi, my mother recieved a letter a few days ago. she just opened it as its her home and when she did it was addressed to my abusive ex partner. He has never lived at that address so very odd. the letter is from a secondary debt collector. This must mean he has taken out a loan or something under an address he has never lived at!!! is that not illegal?? what can i do?
charlotte - 23-Apr-16 @ 11:41 AM
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