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STEP 4:  what is your credit rating...

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Whether it’s unpaid council tax
or multiple credit cards, (or both
for that matter), unpaid debt

can become a living nightmare.

We get it. We’ve been there.

And it’s not fun. So if you’re struggling big time with problem debt,
we probably have a solution to your problems. From an IVA in
England, to the Scottish equivalent Trust Deed... read on and we
could help you on your way to Debt Freedom...


Debt collection

There’s no two ways about it. Being in debt feels hugely stressful. The calls, the letters, dreading a knock at your door. Read here about your rights and what can happen – the more you know, the better prepared you are for anything that happens.

Don’t forget! You don’t need to suffer any longer – get in touch so we can help!




What can creditors actually do?

Creditors vary from company to company in what they’ll do to recover the money owed. Hopefully you can pay back any missed payments and that’s the end of the matter.

If not, here’s what could happen. Multiply this by however many creditors you have.


You’ll be sent reminders by
phone or by letter

If you miss three or four payments,
they’ll pressurise more and may
threaten further action

You may get a default notice

In 2 weeks your account may default,
affecting your credit rating

You may be hearing from a specialist debt
collector or they may be taking you to court
to get a County Court Judgement (CCJ)


Remember it’s never too late to get in touch with us and get BacktoBlack.



Get BacktoBlack. Talk to us today

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Bailiffs

Bailiffs have the legal power to recover debts for creditors. Be very wary and know your rights BEFORE you let a bailiff step foot inside your home.

That’s because, once you’ve let them, they’re legally entitled to force their way into your home next time and remove certain items you own to settle the debt.

Here’s what can happen:

  1. You receive a notice of enforcement warning you that a bailiff will be calling. Your rights: You must get at least 7 days’ notice and this must be in writing by post or delivered by hand to you.
  2. When they call they must identify themselves, say why they are there and who they’re acting for. Your rights: They must ask your permission to enter and you DON’T have to give it! You can say no.
  3. If you let them in, your rights change. Bailiffs can go into each and every room and list items to take away. It goes into a document with a new payment plan you have to sign and stick to – or they will come and collect the items noted.Your rights: They can’t list your necessities such as clothes, white goods (fridge / freezer / washing machine), or work tools and equipment with a combined value of less than £1,350.
  4. If you don’t co-operate with the payment plan, they can legally force their way in if you try to stop them. They can take away those items listed in the document. These can include luxury items like TVs, computers, gaming consoles. Your rights: Bailiffs can’t enter if the only person at home is 16 or under or disabled. They can’t come between 9pm and 6am. They have to use your door.

Bailiffs can also force entry when they’re collecting a criminal fine, or tax for the HMRC, or to remove goods following a breach of controlled goods agreement.



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FYI: Debt collectors are not bailiffs

It’s really helpful to remember that a debt collector is not the same as a bailiff or a sheriff officer – they have zero powers of office and zero legal authority. So no matter what they say to you, remember your rights:



  • They can’t touch your property – ever!
  • They can’t clamp your car
  • They mustn’t force entry into your home
  • They must leave when you ask them to
  • They’re not employed by courts but
    by your creditors
  • They can’t photograph or document
    your stuff
  • They mustn’t masquerade as a bailiff
    or sheriff court officer – it’s illegal!

SO WHAT CAN THEY DO?


  • Visit you at home
  • Ask you to settle up your debts with either your creditor or them
  • Talk about your debts to try to set up a payment arrangement scheme


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Or, take your first steps to debt freedom
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Sheriff officers

Sheriff Officers work for the Scottish Court and so only work in Scotland. They’re similar to bailiffs, but in many ways have more power. Their role is to enforce court orders and hand you (‘serve you with’) documents about eviction, debt enforcement, property disputes and family matters.

Here’s what can happen:

  • A Sheriff Officer must give you no less than 2 week’s notice of coming to your home.
  • When they visit they should show you their ID (ASK if they don’t!) and they MUST tell you: who they represent, how much it’s claimed you owe, the phone number for contacting the organisation.
  • You can refuse to let them in unless you they show you the correct documents from court. If they do, and you refuse entry, then can use ‘necessary reasonable force’ to enter your home…
  • Once in, the court allows them to make a list of your luxury possessions to be sold at a later date if you don’t stick to an agreed payment plan.
  • They can physically evict you from your home if they have notified you of an eviction – the police may be there in the background. If you refuse to leave, you may be formally charged by the police.
  • If no-one’s in, then sheriff officer can force entry to enforce an eviction, recover goods or ensure work has been carried out.
  • They can only enter from 8am to 8pm Monday-Saturday, excluding public holidays.

We can help prevent things reaching this stage. Even if this is already happening to you, we can help with advice and solutions for a better way forwards.



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Or, take your first steps to debt freedom
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Court action

Court action may be started after 5 or 6 payments have been missed. If your debt regulated by the Consumer Credit Act (covering reputable sources of lending), the creditor must have sent you a ‘default notice’ and given you at least 14 days to reply before they can start court action.

By this stage, you’ll have already had lots of contact from your creditor. Your case may have been passed to specialist debt collectors.

The law varies around the UK and you can read about the process that will affect you below.



THE COURT PROCESS IN ENGLAND
AND WALES

After your account has been classed as ‘defaulted’ by your creditor, if you live in England you’ll receive some court forms in the post. These will explain what you owe and ask for information about your circumstances. You must reply straightaway.

In response, the court will give their judgement on your case, called a County Court Judgement (CCJ). This will tell you how much you should pay and on which dates.

Bear in mind that if you ignore their request for information, they’ll still give you a CCJ – and they may demand payments which are too high for your circumstances.



THE COURT PROCESS IN SCOTLAND

In Scotland, the documents you receive in the post from the Sheriff Court will depend on how much money you owe. If your debt is less than £5,000, you’ll receive a ‘simple procedure notice of claim’ (form 6A). If it’s more, you’ll receive an ‘initial writ’. Both will explain what you owe and ask for information about your circumstances. You should also receive a form called ‘The Simple Procedure Time to Pay Application’ or the ‘Application in writing for a time to pay direction’. Both give you the option to pay off your debt in affordable instalments.

Remember: it’s important to reply within their deadline, usually 21 days.

In response, the court may issue a Decision or a Decree. This stays visible on a public register for six years.

  • If the court agrees to your instalments, you’ll either get a Decision with an ‘order for time to pay’ or a Decree with a ‘time to pay direction.’ When you stick to this, your creditor can’t take any more action against you.
  • If you haven’t returned your instalment form or it was late, the sheriff will order you to pay the full amount.
  • If the creditor doesn’t agree to your instalments, the court may ask you to come to a hearing, in order to set a regular payment amount.


THE COURT PROCESS IN
NORTHERN IRELAND

If you live in Northern Ireland, your creditors can apply for a money judgement from the court.

The money judgement will tell you how much you need to pay. Next, you must get in touch with your creditor, either paying off the debt in full or reaching an agreement on instalments.

If you can’t or don’t do this, the creditor can ask the Enforcement of Judgement Office (EJO) to collect the debt – and this could involve extra charges, too.

The EJO will send you a ‘custody warrant,’ meaning you can’t sell any of things you own because they’re now under the control of the EJO. To recover the money owed, they can take a variety of actions, ranging from seizing part of your wage or bank account to taking some things you own. In some circumstances, the EJO decides you have no way to pay back the debt in a reasonable time and issues a ‘Certificate of unenforceability.’



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