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Can they steal MY stuff?

(21 Posts)
PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Mon 03-Oct-11 17:31:52

A letter from a debt collection agency arrived at D P's stepmothers house, he has not lived there since 1998. The debt is an overdraft of £800 from 2001.
Anyway, he phoned the company to say that he doesn't live there, and that he has no fixed address, because I've told him not to give out my address, as it's got nothing to do with me. He also told them he has no income, which is true, and they said that they don't believe him and that they will get private detectives to track him down.

What I'm worried about is, is there anyway he could be traced at my address? The only thing that links him here is Council Tax bill (but not the tenancy, as I haven't added him as a joint tenant, as I have lived here for 10 years now, and I don't want him stealing my house if we split up, again), and Tax Credits which are in both our names.

We did split up in 2008 (he had been living here since 2005), and got back together last year, so I was thinking if they came to my door I was going to say that he hasn't lived here since 2008, as the rent card is only in my name anyway (because of the tenancy).
But if they don't believe me and they have 'proof' that he lives here, can they steal my stuff?

I don't have receipts for most of my stuff, as alot of it's secondhand/parents old tv's e.t.c and things like CD'S/DVD'S I obviously don't keep every single receipt. So I have no way of proving whats mine and whats his. Basically all that belongs to him is his clothes and some CD'S/DVD'S e.t.c, all the furniture and household items are mine, but like I've said, I have no way of proving most of it.

One of my friends said it doesn't matter even if I have receipts, because we're a 'family' and he doesn't work and I do, so they can take anything in my house, that's why I've told him not to give out my address, as I don't think it's fair that I should lose everything I own, that I've paid for, for a debt that's not even mine. I'm even considering asking him to move out, because I'm so scared.

I'm in Scotland, and the company is based in England, does this make any difference? Thanks for reading and any advice you can give.

PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Mon 03-Oct-11 19:39:46

Anyone?

AgentProvocateur Mon 03-Oct-11 19:45:06

Not sure what they can take, but they do use private detectives, yes.

Have they been in touch about the debt before now? I'm sure there's some time limit, after which the debt cannot be chased (although if it is his debt, I think he has a moral obligation to pay it off - even at a few pounds a week).

Your best bet would be going to the CAB and asking them.

PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Mon 03-Oct-11 20:24:49

They have been sending letters to his stepmothers address for years now, apparently, and she has just been sending them back with 'not known at this address', but she opened this one, and phoned them, and told them that he has not lived with her since 1998, and that she has no contact with him since his father died, which is true, and they didn't believe her, and they were aggressive with her on the phone.
She got his phone number off of his sister, and contacted him to give him the letter, he phoned the company today, and he did say to them it's an old debt e.t.c, but I think it's been past round a few companies, and they said something about they haven't been looking for six years.

He has no money to pay it, as he was on incapacity benefit, but that ATOS pricks declared him fit for work, and he can't sign on because I work 25 hours a week and earn too much hmm .
But he is really ill because he used to have a drug addiction (this is when he run up the debts), and he has been left with the long term side effects of it, and he struggles to get out of bed most days, he can't even do any housework because he is in pain. Therefor he can't get a job. The only money I have coming in is my wages and tax credits, and I can't afford to pay his debt, and I don't see why I should anyway, as it's nothing to do with me.

Also my friend said that they could take my dog as well shock , TBH I think that is a load of shite, but it's still got me worrying now! Though if that is true, she's micro-chipped in my name, so hopefully that won't happen.

Dipsyistipsy Mon 03-Oct-11 20:27:17

I would get to CAB as soon as possible if his name is on the council tax,is he on the electoral register?

mrspnut Mon 03-Oct-11 20:30:50

The debt is more than 6 years old so will not be enforceable. Go on to moneysaving expert and get some advice on template letters to send to the debt collectors and they will back down.

PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Mon 03-Oct-11 20:31:26

No he's not on the electoral roll, just my name is on it. The only thing he is on is Council Tax bill and the Tax credits.

PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Mon 03-Oct-11 20:32:31

Thanks mrspnut, i'll go and have a look there now.

Daughteroflilith Mon 03-Oct-11 21:25:45

This might be good: www.debtquestions.co.uk/prob_bailiffs.php#take
They can't take your goods, but they can take goods which are in joint ownership. I'm not sure how they prove joint ownership. I suppose if he is on the council tax they will assume that the TV you both watch, say, is joint property. Then again, if you let a friend who is skint sleep on your couch, for example, surely the bailiffs can't visit their financial misfortune on you?

I might be wrong here, but I believe there is a limit of six years for recovering some debts. But I believe that this is 6 years between the person or company realising you owe the debt and trying to recover it. For example, if your water meter is wrongly callibrated one year and they only charge you 10p a month, they can ask for the money back up to six years later. Keep quiet about it and if they notice after six years and one day, they can't touch you grin.

I'm not sure about an overdraft though. Your DP would have been notified through bank statements so I'm not sure the rule would apply. I'm pretty sure they can't take your dog, though!

Dipsyistipsy Mon 03-Oct-11 21:56:40

I dont think the six year rule would apply here,letters have been sent to the last known address,so contact has been made,the fact that the recepient never received them is his own fault for not notifying somebody he owed money to of his current address.

fedupdownhere Tue 04-Oct-11 08:42:20

I am pretty sure they can take the dog if they think they can make enough money from selling it as the dog is classed as live stock sad I think it would only happen if said dog was worth a lot of money as in a pedigree or one of those designer dogs worth £££££

ChunkyMonkeyMother Tue 04-Oct-11 09:00:53

Just a quick one from experience - If a debt is over 6 years old they cannot always claim it back - This runs from the date the debt starts to the date they actually contact the customer - My DH came with a few debts from when he was a lot younger, they were mainly phone bills etc, he got them all wiped because it was about 7 years from time of debt to time of contacting him at our new address, even though they claim to have written to previous addresses but when pressed for details the addresses they had weren't even his!

If this is not the case here and he has just been dodging them they cannot just barge in and take your stuff if he gets in touch with them and co-operates - I'm fairly sure if he offers to pay £5 a month or something just as small they have to back off, see if you cant afford something like that?

If it is the case that they will not reduce or remove the debts, he will have to step up and pay, DH had one debt that we ended up having to pay off as they were getting nasty - We managed to pay a lump sum off which meant they reduced the debt by almost half! Good luck

MumblingRagDoll Tue 04-Oct-11 09:03:28

He should not have acknowledged them...it's old enough to be exempt now. CAB or Debtline and quickly.

BalloonSlayer Tue 04-Oct-11 09:11:13

"He should not have acknowledged them."

er why should he not have acknowledged them?

If it's his debt, then acknowledging it is the right thing to do.

Bloody hell - criticising the poor bloke for owning up to having a debt? Now I've heard it all . . .

BalloonSlayer Tue 04-Oct-11 09:12:22

Sorry OP that was not intended to be unsympathetic to you or your DP BTW. Hope it turns out OK for you.

MumblingRagDoll Tue 04-Oct-11 09:15:04

They're obviously not in a position to pay it Balloon and the fact is that after a certain period, they don't have to. The debt dies. Unless you acknowledge it.

midoriway Tue 04-Oct-11 09:20:11

Some bad advice here- the six years starts from when you last made contact acknowledging the debt to them, not them sending you a letter, or them making contact. The point being they have 6 years from the time the debt is defaulted to bring legal actions. Them sending out a few letters every year does not keep the debt active, no matter where these letters are sent.

However, if they bring about action that is not contested on the grounds of the debt being statute barred, they can still collect.

Consumer Action Group has some fantastic advice forums on how to deal with people trying to collect on statute barred debts.

www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk

Make no acknowledgement of the debt at all, and research how to shove these buggers off. They are trying to scare you into paying a debt your partner is no longer obliged to pay.

PintOfStellaAndBuckfastChaser Wed 05-Oct-11 17:56:24

Thanks everyone for your replies smile
I have been on Money Saving Expert and saw a template letter for dealing with statute barred debt, so I have wrote it out for DP, and added a few extra bits in it, relating to the phone conversation he had with them on monday. He is going to pop in to CAB this week with the letter to see what they think before he sends it.

littlepiglet Wed 05-Oct-11 20:38:51

Debt collectors have NO powers anyway - they simply have no RIGHT to take ANYTHING & anyone who says different, is misinformed!

Bailiffs are the only ones who can levy property against a debt NOT debt collectors, and you do NOT have to let a bailiff in. Once a bailiff has been inside your property they can legally enter by force in the future to collect property - but they have to be invited in the first time (if you leave a window open that is fair game).

Court bailiffs have special powers to enter property (council tax etc).

A lot of these debt collection agencies have bought old debts for £1 and send out speculative letters/threats, in the hope that some poor soul will pay up.

Hopefully the company will accept the statute barred letter, and leave you alone, if not they are acting illegally

littlepiglet Wed 05-Oct-11 20:43:41

Just another thought OP; did your partner appeal the Atos decision? They are notorious for finding people fit for work, where even their consultants and doctors think the claimants are incapable. The tests they use are designed in such a way, that it is very hard to pass, and this is no coincidence, it is designed to find people fit for work & reduce the benefits bill.

A lot of claimants are still found too ill to work at appeal, so I hope your partner did appeal (there is time-limit for it). Whilst appealing he would have been entitled to ESA at the assessment rate, until the appeal had finished

AgentProvocateur Wed 05-Oct-11 21:37:18

The OP is in Scotland. We don't have bailiffs. We have Sheriff's Officers, and they can force entry if they have a court warrant. See here

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