Debt collectors demanding money I don't owe – what should I do?
I have received a letter from a debt collector demanding immediate payment of money I don't owe and threatening legal action against me if I don't pay. What should I do?
Don't pay if you don't think you owe the money. If you feel that the debt is not yours (or you don't think you owe the amount being asked for, or if you have already paid the debt) tell the debt collector immediately.
A debt collector has no power to do anything to you – they can't take your belongings, for example – so don't be scared of them.
Check you're definitely not liable for the debt. Think back, it may be some time ago. The debt may have been sold on and you may not recognise the name of who is collecting it.
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You're likely to be liable if you signed an agreement such as a phone contract or credit agreement. This may have been jointly with someone else or as a guarantor.
Write to the company that has contacted you and say:
• you don't owe the money they are demanding
• to stop contacting you immediately
• if they want to continue to demand the money from you, they need to prove you owe the money, by sending you a copy of the original signed agreement.
• Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, it is an offence to engage in aggressive commercial practices, including the harassment of debtors by making demands for payment in a manner that causes unreasonable distress, fear or embarrassment.
• you consider their behaviour constitutes harassment under the regulations
• if they continue to write to you in this way, you will take the matter further.
If this doesn't work, get further advice about who to complain to (this will depend on who is demanding the money). There is an OFT guidance leaflet at http:// www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/ consumer_leaflets/credit/oft1299 .pdf or contact a local advice agency or CAB.