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Disputed debt & template letter

Friday, 22nd March 2019

Although it's not too common there are occasions when people receive correspondence from a creditor or debt collector saying you owe them money and you know you don't, because you have never borrowed from that creditor or had a mobile phone from that provider.

Or it could be you knew that debt was cleared a good few years ago and you no longer owe anything, or could it the agency/firm chasing you has got you mixed up with someone else who has a similar name to you?

To just ignore it could well lead to more anxiety and in some instances the unpaid debt could end up on your credit file.

To help you deal with this we have devised a template letter as a guide, this letter is at the end of this page.

It's my debt but I don't recognise the debt collector

This might well be the case whereby your creditor/lender has sold the debt on and no longer communicates with you although they should have made you aware the debt was being sold. That said you still have to deal with the issue. First thing you can do is check the reference number on the letter from the debt collector with your bank loan, credit or store card agreement, catalogue or payday loan debt to see if it is the same, if you do not recognise it then consider the 'dispute my debt template letter' below.

It's my debt but I dispute how much I owe!

Okay, you accept you have this debt but think the balance they say you owe is too high and not what you thought. If this is the case then simply contact the creditor or debt collector and ask for a full break down of the amount they say you owe. Ask what's interest, fees and if any penalties have been applied and why.

If you are unhappy with their explanation and after checking the terms and conditions (T&Cs) disagree with the amount you are said to owe then raise a complaint with the firm involved.

They will have eight weeks to resolve the issue, if you are unhappy with the outcome then approach the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and they will see if you have been treated fairly. The FOS are free to you to use.

I vaguely remember this debt but it was a long time ago, what can I do?

Not hearing from a creditor or debt collector for many years can be put down to several things such as your failure to inform them of a change of address or a creditor has been slow to pursue the debt. Your old debt might have been sold on to other debt collectors many times over and the debt collector making contact with you is on a fishing trip, hoping to get lucky with you paying up on a debt that maybe they are unable to enforce payment on.

If this is the case then the debt might be what we call in the industry 'Statute Barred'. It is important to note that debt collectors and creditors can only use the legal system to recover the monies for up to six years, this time limit starts 14 days after the date of the issue of a default notice for unsecured debts such as credit and store cards, personal bank loans and catalogue debt. These types of debts are often referred to as simple contracts.

We have quite an extensive page on this, you can see more here, The Limitation Act 1980, old debts and statute barred debts

 

Template letter below, updated March 2019

This letter is designed to respond to a creditor/lender or Debt Collecting Agency (DCA) who are pursuing you for a debt you do not owe or is in dispute.

Just copy and paste the body of the text, replace all blue text within this letter with your information, delete any unwanted text, amend the I / We & me / us to suit you, add any words you think necessary. Remember to change all text to black before printing and emailing or posting.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Your name & address)

(Date)
(Insert name & address of the company that has written or called you)

Dear Sir /Madam

Reference: (insert account number and name of lender pursuing)

This letter does not admit liability nor does it acknowledge the alleged debt.

I / We refer to your contact regarding the above account which you claim I / we owe. I / We am / are informing you that I/we do not recognise the debt and therefore it is DISPUTED.

I / We would also remind you that under Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Debt Collection Guidelines it states that it is unfair to pursue third parties for payment when they are not liable and that it is deceptive and unfair in not ceasing collection activity whilst investigating a reasonably queried or disputed debt.

I / We draw to your attention the following Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Debt Collection Guidelines; Conc 7, whereby it states;

7.5.2     ‘A firm must not pursue an individual whom the firm knows or believes might not be the borrower or hirer under a credit agreement or a consumer hire agreement.’

7.5.3     ‘A firm must not ignore or disregard a customer's claim that a debt has been settled or is disputed and must not continue to make demands for payment without providing clear justification and/or evidence as to why the customer's claim is not valid.’

7.14.3     ‘Where a customer disputes a debt on valid grounds or what may be valid grounds, the firm must investigate the dispute and provide details of the debt to the customer in a timely manner.

7.14.4     ‘Where there is a dispute as to the identity of the borrower or hirer or as to the amount of the debt, it is for the firm (and not the customer) to establish, as the case may be, that the customer is the correct person in relation to the debt or that the amount is the correct amount owed under the agreement.'

7.14.5     ‘A firm must provide a customer with information on the outcome of its investigations into a debt which the customer disputed on valid grounds.’

If you ignore and/or disregard claims that debts have been settled or are ‘disputed’ and continue to make unjustified demands for payment then this can amount to physical or psychological harassment.

I / We am / are also familiar with Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act and Protection From Harassment Act 1997.

As I / we dispute this debt you refer to then I / we trust you will make no further contact unless you can satisfy me / us that this debt exists and that I / we am / are liable.

If you feel I / we still owe this debt then you are to provide a signed copy of the consumer credit agreement that relates to the debt you are pursuing.

If you subsequently cannot prove I /we owe this debt and if you continue to act in this irresponsible and unprofessional way then I / we will have no other alternative than to report you to Trading Standards and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who monitor your consumer credit licence.  I / we will also lodge a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and your trade association, if appropriate, the Credit Services Association.

If I / we receive any communication from another debt collection agency then it will be evident that you have sold this debt on with the knowledge that it is disputed and in breach of the FCA’s guidelines. Should this occur then I / we will report you to the government bodies and trade association detailed above.

I / We now await written confirmation that this matter is now closed, you are not to contact me / us by telephone, instead by letter only.

I / We look forward to your reply by return.

Yours faithfully




(Insert your signature(s)
(Insert your name(s)

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Notes

You can either email or post this letter, if post then we suggest you send it recorded delivery to guarantee postage, then go to the link below a few days later to track the delivery and print the signature receipt.

This is your evidence you have responded to this claim. Royal Mail - Track & Trace

Remember to delete anything that is not needed and correct the I / We & me / us before printing and sending.

Don't forget to keep a copy!

Where to get more information at no cost to you

If it's general debt advice you need then we can be contacted on 03339 870 180  Monday to Thursday: 9.00am - 8.00pm, Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm

Simple debt advice - with no up-front costs.

Remember, being in debt is not a crime, so insist that you are treated properly and politely at all times.

 

 

 

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