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Help please :o( Debt collectors harassing us over debt by previous owner of our house

(15 Posts)
Honneybunny Mon 06-Oct-08 18:31:22

The previous owner of our house has left and is still (even after 4.5 years!) leaving a trail of unpaid bills. One of the debt collector agencies is now chasing us for almost £350. They have been incredibly rude to me on the two occasions i contacted them to tell them this guy is not here anymore. Today after a heated discussion they just threw down the phone on me. I am getting very anxious about this, but don't know what to do anymore sad.

I have returned their previous letter (after taking copy) and sent them a copy of the land registry entry that we got from the solicitor when we bought the house. But then today we got yet another letter. Exact copy of previous one, threatening with the Litigation dept...
What more can i do???

We've had the baylifs here once, who threatened to take our furniture (over another debt he had) and they only backed off when they saw the official papers.

Anyone know how i should handle this??
Please please help sad

TheFallenMadonna Mon 06-Oct-08 18:35:57

Do you know the company that passed on the debt? We had similar problems with an unpaid gas bill by the previous owner, and I contacted Britsh Gas who then called them off.

hecate Mon 06-Oct-08 18:36:06

Show them the official papers. copies by recorded delivery and a letter stating that if they attempt to contact you again, you will take them to court.

Or pay for a solicitor to write them a letter!

Or tell them that if they attempt to gain access to your property again you will telephone the police and have them arrested for trespass, harrassment and attempted theft.

Thing is - they can do NOTHING to you! The debt is NOT your responsibility! They know that! You could even say to them "This is not my debt, take me to court then because I am DYING to tell a judge what you have been doing to me, and go after you for compensation."

hecate Mon 06-Oct-08 18:38:12

In fact, it might be better to let them take you to court - you show up there with your proof of who you are and that you are NOT the person they are after, a diary of their harassment of you and all the times you have tried to prove to them that you are not the person they are after. The court will be deeply unimpressed!

nolongeraworriedmummy Mon 06-Oct-08 18:38:34

you do not have to let bailiffs in so dont, baliffs can not force your door down and can only enter if you let them in or there is an open door or entry. Go and see the cab, they will write to them for you and it will stop.

The thing is if they try and take it to court then its obviously not you who has the bills and you can tell the court this when they send forms out. I once had the police at the door with an arrest warrant for a previous owner, nightmare.

colacubes Mon 06-Oct-08 18:40:22

You are not liable, and they know it, but a couple of things could be going on, they dont care and want to retrieve the cash by any means, so dont let them in, refuse to speak to them, threaten them with a solicitor over harassment. Or they are not passing word through the ranks, so its says one thing one place and another in the next.

I would go to a solicitor, CAB, or a handy resource are some of the debt help lines, they of all people will know the correct procedure, have id handy by the door at all times, and prove you are not Mr Bloggs! Keep a record also times names conversations, record all mail sent get a signature, don't fret they can not touch you, treat it as a business, they are!

SmugColditz Mon 06-Oct-08 18:40:55

Just ignore them. They will come round and demand to see the owner of the debt. Tell them that person is not at your address and you don't know where they are. If they get snotty, call the police (I have done this before, and real proper police officers do not take kindly to rent-a-cops throwing their weight around)

Honneybunny Mon 06-Oct-08 19:59:34

Thanks so much everyone! smile
I have just come off the phone with CapitalOne. The debt was with them, and actually we have recently joined them as customers. This is the funniest part of the story, because obviously they did a check on us and the house before giving us an account... Teh were extremely polite and apologetic (obv. scared they will lose us as customers.. grin) They promised me no more letters to the previous owner(although they were a bit vague when i asked if that included letters from the debt collector or just CapitalOne themselves). I will just wait and see.

In hindsight I should have gone with my gut feeling and returned the letter to the debt collecters by recorded mail... They claim not to have received my letter.

I will try CAB/sollicitor if these collectors contact us again. Thanks for all your advice! I am a lot less stressed out now!
smile

gemmiegoatlegs Mon 06-Oct-08 20:05:22

There is a time limit on old debts. Chances are the debts are about to expire so the debt company are pushing extra hard to settle up before the 6 years (iirc) is up and the debt falls off the map.

we have had a similar prob in our new house . the old tenants had loads of bad debts and the debt companies are merciless. I have called the county court on it to tell them to stop, but that was only one lot. Apart from that just make sure that you post all mail back "Not known at this address". recorded delivery sounds like a good idea. threaten anyone vaguely harrassing you with legal action yourself. as other posters have said, they cannot enter your home

mumoverseas Tue 07-Oct-08 08:29:16

they really are a pain in the arse aren't they?
I had this up until earlier this year with lots of debt collectors that were chasing my ex-husband's debts. I had got rid of him about 5 years before and hadn't got any of his post for years until about 2 years ago when all his creditors suddenly started using my address again. It turned out that his flat (about 4 miles away) was re-possessed, so all of a sudden, they started going back to his old address(how many people move back to an old address?) I kept phoning and writing and still kept getting the same stupid computer generated letters. I would have promises on the phone one week that they'd update their records and the next week another chasing letter threatening all sorts of nasty things (CCJ's, bailiffs etc). I wrote to experian and equifax (two main credit reference agencies) in order to 'distance myself' from him. In the end, it only stopped when I sent a copy of the HM Land Registry office copy entries which proved that the house was in my sole name and had been for years. I also threatened legal action against them for harrassment and finally, they left me alone! hope this works for you!

JillJ72 Tue 07-Oct-08 11:37:42

I think the key is to know that the debt is linked to the person and there is nothing they can do to you at your address, because it is your address. Any attempts at entry are breaking and entering. Once you realise that, a whole heap of worry lifts off your shoulders and then it's a tiresome pain to do the donkey work of returning letters and batting off phonecalls.

Had this in our previous home. I was 8 months' pregnant when the first letter arrived, on our first wedding anniversary we had a bailiff's letter. We sent letters back, rang companies, and just kept returning returning returning and focussed on it being a tiresome inconvenience rather than a threat.

But it is horrible, and draining. It does eventually end, the letters become fewer and further apart. Hang in there.

thisischristine Tue 07-Oct-08 14:06:22

Never let bailiffs over the threshold even to show them the paperwork. Once they have entered your home at your invitation they have a right to return when you are not there!

lilacclaire Tue 07-Oct-08 18:29:38

Honneybunny, they will not inform the debt collectors.
9 out of 10 letters returned, do not reach them for some reason (im talking ones marked 'not at this address) think RM chucks them in the bin personally.
The fact that you have phoned the debt collecters should be enough for them not to write to you again, am suprised they are still writing as its certainly wasting their time and money.
Usually it would be passed to a trace dept to locate the previous occupants.

PumpkinPatty Tue 07-Oct-08 18:36:56

We get letters for the previous occupants of our house all the time. Some are from debt collectors requesting payment or threatening to send baliffs round.

I just send them back if they have a return adress on, if they don't they go in the bin.

We've never had baliffs round (I think the letters just threaten this to scare you a lot of the time).

I don't see it as my responsibility to ring the companies to tell them the previous occupants have moved on, and I'm certainly not wasting my phone bill on it

Honneybunny Tue 07-Oct-08 21:59:36

i guess i will probably need to send the letter to the debt collectors again. this time i will do so by recorded mail. then they can't claim that they never received it.

still hpoing that capital one will have called them off. i think if it turns out that they haven't i will call back capital one and threaten to leave them (we are customers ourselves). i have been in touch with our sollicitor (who represented us when we bought the house) and he said that actually opening the mail is the best thing you can do, as debt collectors can claim that they did not receive the returned-to-sender letters (and anyone can claim not to live somewhere anymore but still do).

when we had the bayliffs at the door, that was for some unpaid fines that had been in the magistrates court (and the previous owner had of course not shown up). i think he got a ccj against him on that occasion, and those bayliffs said to us that they would have had the right to enter our house (not sure if they could have forced entry, but don't think so). it was lucky that we were there, as we were about to leave on holidays and these guys said that it is always a good idea to open mail that looks like bills as it may be a warning that bayliffs are going to come around, and you'd wnat to be there to prove to them that the guy they are after is no longer there. they said that had we not been there, we might have returned from our holidays to an empty house (although this may have been them tough talking to get us afraid... don't see though why we should be scared over this guy's debts?).

have said to the debt collectors that i am assuming that their newest letter and mine have crossed in the mail (seems ludicrous to me that a 1st class mail letter would take over a week to get to sussex from here, but then again let's give them the benefit of the doubt..), but that if we continue to get mail from them i will contact them only through our solicitor... have not yet called cab but will if these guys (or others) contact us again.

thanks again all for your useful tips! and sorry for rambling (am a bit tired tonight). smile

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