Harassing the harassers?

As a follow up to an earlier article on creditor harassment we are repeating out call out for information if you have been feeling harassed by creditors. Two recent examples we have heard about via a local advice work are pretty horrible. One is a single parent mother , on income support who had run up a small debt via a catalogue company. She had fallen behind with her installments and was receiving letters which to her meant she was due in court any day now. She panicked, she stressed, she cut down her food budget to scape together £50 per month to offer the creditors.

Now if you are on £64.30 per week then £50 per month is way WAY over what could be classed as reasonable – but this wasn’t good enough for the catalogue company. They were demanding £200 per month. She called them explaining that she literally didn’t have the money – they helpfully suggested she borrow it from from somewhere else.

Hopefully she has got some advice by now and has offered them £1 per month. But the fact remains how many others out there are going without the basics whilst fending off evening phone calls from these vultures?

Another case highlights the effects of this seemingly legal violence. A couple, one owing a small amount to a credit card does what he feels is the right thing after developing health problems and calls his creditors to see if they will accept reduced offers. They refuse, send threatening letters and sell the debt on to another lot to have a pop. And have a pop they do – calls at 9.45 pm, the usual letters threatening ‘legal’ action, adding on hundreds of pounds of charges for ‘referral fees’ and refusing their offers of payment (again – taken out of food budgets. Dentists? Forget about it! Holidays? You’re having a laugh!). Eventually after having two angina attacks due to the stress, and seriously concerned that he is actually going to have a heart attack the partner seeks some advice.

In all likelihood this couple can factor in health costs, travel and other essentials and the creditor will have to accept a vastly lower offer than the terrorised couple originally put on the table.

It almost seems counter productive – why push people to the edge, why push them to seek advice when nine times out of ten the creditor will actually lose out?

Because it’s a numbers game – for every one person that cracks under the pressure, swallows their pride and seeks advice there are nine others than stay on the merry go round. The creditors don’t care, or rather it’s not that they don’t care – because that would suggest some sort of human intervention where a person receives an offer, weighs up whether its a good one or not and makes a decision – but that you’re more a number to be ‘crunched’. It’s like having an argument with a spreadsheet or a pocket calculator.

But the elephant in the creditors room is you finding out how they play the game, and then playing it better than them.

With this in mind we want to hear from anyone that has

  • Received repeated (or late at night / early in morning) phone calls from creditors

  • Been on the end of abuse, threats or humiliating behaviour

  • Have made resonable offers that have been ignored

These are just a few examples of creditor harassment. Apparently its a criminal offence so please take a look at:

http://www.insolvencyhelpline.co.uk/debt_factsheets/harassment_of_people_in_debt_by_creditors.php

and see if this matches your experiences. We also want to hear from anyone who has successfully ‘done’ a creditor for this, and from any legal people that have experience of the process

Email info@eb-da.org or call 07878 384439 and we will get back to you.

Remember: The elephant in the creditors room is you finding out how they play the game, and then playing it better than them.

One other thing: It’s not your fault. And don’t take creditor harassment personally – it may be that the people on the end of the phone that are giving people so much grief are also in debt themselves, and are under extreme pressure from their bosses to meet crazy targets.

Bastard Creditor of the month: RMA

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=139464&highlight=RMA

Also see: this article on Bristol Indymedia website

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