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How to stop creditor harassment / dispute a debt - template letters

Page last updated Wednesday, 18 June 2014

055-handcuffedNew harassment template letter (available soon) and disputed debt letter is available for free - see below to download.

It is not a crime to be in debt!

Many individuals in debt are often subject to unnecessary harassment by lenders. Arguably, it can be justified in some cases whereby the borrower stops paying and fails to inform his/her creditors of the reasons why.

However, in a lot of instances creditors work under the rule of “he who shouts the loudest gets paid” and will therefore annoy, badger, disturb, exhaust, harry, jade, perplex, pester, plague, tease, tire, torment, trouble, vex, weary and worry to get paid, in other words to “annoy or trouble constantly”, reference: Collins dictionary.

So what is harassment?

There are many more forms of harassment, but these are the most frequent ones;

  • telephoning at work, creating embarrassment and fear of dismissal.
  • making nuisance visits or telephone calls at inconvenient times.
  • calling or writing to neighbours on purpose knowing they are not the debtor.
  • threats of personal visits, this is sometimes detailed in letters giving the impression that creditors have greater powers than they really have.

So what can you do if you feel you are being harassed?

You will need to start collecting evidence of the harassment, this is very easy to do.

  • keep a record of all the telephone calls, including the ones you make
  • note the date, time, name of the person to whom you spoke with, what was said and the company from which they are calling
  • mark down what day it is because it may be reasonable to telephone you on a weekday, but 8.30 in the morning on a Sunday is not acceptable
  • try and get a witness to the harassment such as a friend or family member.

Other uesful tips;

  • Consider an answerphone so that you can screen incoming calls, this could be set up on your telephone line without the need to buy an answering machine
  • If your telephone number is not known to creditors then dial 141 before making calls to them as this will withhold your number  contact your service provider to see if they can bar specific telephone numbers to stop unwanted callers, like 'choose and refuse' with BT
  • If a creditor cannot contact you by telephone then their only recourse is to write to you. Therefore, keep copies of all your correspondence to and from  creditors for reference purposes.

What legislation is there that helps me?

Section 40 - Administration of Justice Act 1970.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Section 4A - Public Order Act 1986.

Section 1 & 2 - Malicious Communications Act 1988.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, (“the Act”) the provisions of this Act are quite complicated and unfortunately cannot be covered in an article such as this. It is an interesting piece of legislation with potential repercussions for creditors. In the circumstances, I have highlighted below what I consider to be the most relevant provisions.

The Act was introduced to deal with stalking offences, however, Section 1 can be applied to creditors harassing debtors whereby a person is guilty of this offence if they pursue a course of conduct that they know or ought to know amounts to harassment of another. The debtor would need to prove conduct, i.e. on more than one occasion.

Will the Police get involved?

Only if it becomes a serious offence such as violence, blackmail or fraud will the Police normally express an interest.

In defence, a creditor can claim that they were:

  • pursuing under an enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment
  • the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime
  • that the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable for the protection of himself or another or for the protection of his or another’s property.

Is there anything else I can do?

In minor cases it may only require representation to be made to the creditor’s head office, with evidence wherever possible. This usually stops a ‘rogue’ employee and if this fails to arrest the conduct than contact Trading Standards Officer or the particular Trade Association that the lender belongs to. Another contact is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who grants Consumer Credit Licences to lenders and will have records of previous complaints against any such creditor.

One important point to bear in mind is that if the debtor/borrower is obstructive and ignores all reasonable attempts of contact from the creditor/lender and does not adhere to the contractual or agreed reduced payments, then a creditor will claim in defence that their action is justified and not many people will argue against this.

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

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who took over from the OFT on the 1st April 2014 has adopted the OFT Debt Collection Guidelines  that were revised on 19 October 2011.

Letter 1

Letter 1 Disputed debt 'Disputed debt, a debt you do not owe'.

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

Replace all blue text within this letter with your information. Remember to changed all text to black before printing and sending. Updated April 2014

Download the 'Dispute a debt' Letter 1 (word doc)

Letter 2

Letter 2 Harassment  'Stop harassment from debt collection agencies, in whatever form'.

This letter is designed to send to your lender or Debt Collection Agency (DCA) to stop harassment, in what ever form.

Replace all blue text within this letter with your information. Remember to changed all text to black before printing and sending.

The template is under construction and will be available soon.

As featured in:

BBC - My Worst Deal, BBC Radio, Daily Mirror, the guardian
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