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Debt Collection

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Tom Quinne

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Morning, I’m after some informed advice.

Firstly I want to make Crystal what I say is 100% accurate, the only debt I have is my mortgage - fully paid up and in good order I may add.

Okay, so I brought my house in May 2019 the previous owners to the best of my knowledge have moved to the US in relation to their employment.

In October 2020 I started getting letters from Dartmouth Crossing Ltd in relation to a toll which wasn’t paid, the vehicle reg I assume is the previous owners car so the toll charge notice has gone to the last keeper into the DVLA have.

Either their back from the US, didn’t go in the first place or car has been sold and the keeper info not updated.

Anyway, several letters where returned to the sender marked with “not known at this address since May 19”.

Last week a debt collection agent arrived at our front door.

I was very polite (I am by nature, I hate confrontation) I explained what I’ve said above. The chap wasn’t particularly polite or friendly more aggressive than anything.

In order to prove the person who is wanted in relation to the debt no longer lives here is to show ID.

Okay - I know I could easily do this matter sorted, hopefully anyway.

But, I’m not legally compelled to do this especially on my door step by someone who refused to show my any official ID.

The voters register is up to date with all those over 16 registered (3 of us) and not the wanted person.
Our cars parked on our drive are all registered to us, and neither are of the type or registration of the vehicle involved.

My concern is when they return - the chap said as much when he left empty handed they’ll clamp and potentially remove my vehicles.

I would consider calling the police, who I have no issue with showing ID but I’m extremely opposed to showing ID to a debt collection company ive no business with.

I know they can’t force entry to my house, unless I stupidly left them in (no chance of that) but where do I stand if / when they clamp a vehicle.

The only advice I can find in the internet is aimed at people who do owe money and are trying to evade it.

I owe zero monies, so any action taken would be illegal but they doesn’t stop them starting it.

Any ideas
 
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ainsworth74

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Personally I suggest that trying to take a principled stand on this is rather foolish and likely to waste everyone's time and cause more aggro than necessary.

However as far as I'm aware if you do refuse to provide them with ID then they may well try to clamp and remove the vehicles. I'm not 100% certain on how many checks they are required to make on actual ownership of vehicles. I can recall a memorable occasion when a bailiff was refused entry to a property by the debtor and the bailiff then clamped the car of the midwife who was visiting at the same time (the debtor not having a vehicle of their own). Equally it's standard practice to suggest it might be 'wise' for anyone expecting a visit from the bailiffs to consider parking their car elsewhere for a little while. You would think that they'd check the DVLA for the registered keepers details but I'm not actually sure that that is one of the 'reasonable causes' for requesting such info from the DVLA. Similarly I assume they can access the electoral register (as I think everyone can access that if they put in the leg work!) but equally it doesn't necessarily prove much of anything as regards to who is living there.

Obviously if they were to do that they you could complain to the bailiffs directly and you may wish to complain to the creditor as well. I imagine if you provide the logbooks of the affected vehicles they would be released immediately as they're not assets belonging to the debtor. National Debtline have a factsheet on bailiff complaints which you can find here.

The most obvious way of resolving the matter is to provide them with proof that the debt isn't yours. Indeed this is the advice given by Citizens Advice:

If you don’t owe the debt​

You should act quickly to prove the debt isn’t yours - this can stop the bailiffs visiting.

If it’s someone else’s debt​

Call the bailiffs - you can find their number on the notice of enforcement. It’s best to call them, as this is the quickest way to get in touch.

Tell them you’re not the person named on the notice of enforcement. Explain you’ll send evidence to prove this. You should still do this even if the debt belongs to someone you live with - for example your partner or a housemate.

Ask them to put your case on hold while you’re sending in your evidence and they look into your case - they must do this if you ask.

If you’re worried about calling the bailiffs get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Evidence you should send​

Send a letter to the bailiffs, you can find their address on the notice of enforcement. Say you don’t owe the debt and include evidence that shows you’re not the person named on the notice of enforcement. You could send any of these things:
  • a benefit letter from the last 3 months
  • your council tax bill from the last 3 months
  • your bank or building society statement from the last 3 months
It’s best to send copies of your documents not the originals.

You should also send a copy of your letter to the creditor. Doing this could help you get your problem sorted more quickly, this is because the creditor is the person that has asked the bailiffs to collect the debt.

You can find the creditor’s name on the notice of enforcement - use this to search online for their address.

Send your letter and evidence by recorded delivery if you can. Keep a copy of your letter and any reply you get in case you need it later.


As I say by far the easiest, and indeed I'd go so far as to say the recommended way of dealing with this, is to provide the proof that you're not the debtor but certainly you could refuse to provide that proof but just expect it to cause far more running around in the long run.
 

birchesgreen

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I am not a lawyer but i don't think they can clamp your vehicle unless its on land they own, otherwise they are committing a criminal act and if they do it call 999.
 

EssexGonzo

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To be honest, the easiest way to make this go away would be to provide ID. I can’t really see what the problem with that is. Your name is on the electoral register, it would also be available through a credit search. And many other online traces you have probably left.

You can check they’re a proper enforcement company by looking them up - they have to be registered and approved. I understand if you thought that they’re some random phisher trying to get your ID - but it seems that you’re assured that this isn’t the case? Nothing bad will come of showing them who you are.
 

ainsworth74

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I am not a lawyer but i don't think they can clamp your vehicle unless its on land they own, otherwise they are committing a criminal act and if they do it call 999.

Bailiffs can clamp and remove a vehicle (as long as they allow two hours after clamping):

Stopping bailiffs taking your vehicle​

Bailiffs (also called ‘enforcement agents’) could clamp or remove your vehicle if they’re collecting a debt you haven’t paid.

It’s usually the first thing they’ll look for because they can take it while you’re not home.

If bailiffs clamp your vehicle​

It’s important to act quickly. Bailiffs can come back and take your vehicle after a minimum of 2 hours if you don’t make arrangements to pay.

There are some circumstances where they can't though:

When bailiffs can’t take your vehicle​

Bailiffs can’t clamp or remove your vehicle if you can prove:
  • it has a valid Blue Badge or is a Motability vehicle
  • you need it for your job and it’s worth less than £1,350
  • it's also your home - for example a campervan

If it's a vehicle you bought using hire purchase​

Your vehicle is still owned by the company you made the finance agreement with if you bought it using:

  • hire purchase
  • a personal contract plan
  • conditional sale
This means bailiffs usually can’t take it, but the law is complicated and sometimes bailiffs might say they can.

And obviously where you don't owe the debt which is why I suggested it would be wise to do so...

 

birchesgreen

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That's interesting and rather unsettling!

As for showing ID, it is a good idea. Some years ago I had a situation where a couple were convinced i had stolen their mobile phone because the tracking device said it was in my home (lets face it these things arn't very accurate). In the end i told them to call the police and then i let the police do a (non-destructive) search of my home. I didn't have to but its was the best way to get rid of the problem.

The police found nothing of course and told the couple the tracking device was wrong. The couple didn't apologise of course.
 

pdeaves

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Someone I used to work with got bailiff threat letters for someone that was nothing to do with him. He simply called the company concerned (i.e. Dartmouth Crossing in the OP's case) and explained the situation and it sorted itself out. Maybe try the same?
 

GB

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Is it possible to wrap chains and padlock around your own wheels to stop them clamping? If they break the chains and lock that would be criminal damage wouldn't it? Not that I am suggesting it, just thinking hypothetically.
 

DarloRich

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Don't mess about or try to be clever: Contact the bailiffs directly and sort this out. You do have business with them regardless of what you might think. There are procedures in place for this sort of thing and it happens quite often.

Bailiffs don't just arrive willy nilly. They will be seeking to enforce a court order and wont care what you have to say. How many times a day do you think someone says: this isn't my debt? They will take your car away and let you sort out getting it back because as far as they are concerned YOU owe the debt. Their job is to recover the debt. As far as they are concerned you had your chance to sort this out and did nothing. Your job is to prove that the debt does not belong to you by providing the required information. Mess about and the hassle getting your stuff back will be much worse.

Oh and don't waste your time calling the police or focusing on silly things like register of voters. The bailiffs wont care. Whipping your self-up into some kind of offended victim frenzy will be unhelpful. Sort this out ASAP.

Trust me - I have been through this from both sides.

EDIT - OF COURSE it is a huge pain in the backside having to do sort this out when it is nothing to do with you but the alternatives are worse. Getting your car back will be an even bigger PITA!

Someone I used to work with got bailiff threat letters for someone that was nothing to do with him. He simply called the company concerned (i.e. Dartmouth Crossing in the OP's case) and explained the situation and it sorted itself out. Maybe try the same?


it is too late for that now. The bailiffs will have a court order to enforce.

Is it possible to wrap chains and padlock around your own wheels to stop them clamping? If they break the chains and lock that would be criminal damage wouldn't it? Not that I am suggesting it, just thinking hypothetically.

I am not a lawyer but i don't think they can clamp your vehicle unless its on land they own, otherwise they are committing a criminal act and if they do it call 999.

That wont stop them and it wont be criminal damage. They will simply whistle up a truck with a crane and crane your car away.
 
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Tom Quinne

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Thank you for all your advise, I think like has been suggested the easiest way is to show my council tax demand letter (love the way the council title the notice eqxh year).

Any form of continued defiance is only going to escalate the matter to the point a confrontation will probably happen. Like I say I’m not that way inclined, I live in a nice area so don’t really want my neighbours seeing a drama at my door step either.

Hopefully the next agent who calls will accept the council tax letter and cancel this line of enquiry in tracking them down.
Thanks all.
 

Darandio

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If they return show them your ID so they go on their merry way and you can carry on with your life. But ideally and assuming you have the details at hand already, just give the office a ring and get it sorted before they even return.

Although they can be utterly unpleasant they have a job to do, no need to be awkward about it. They can and will remove outside valuables without a second thought.
 

DarloRich

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Thank you for all your advise, I think like has been suggested the easiest way is to show my council tax demand letter (love the way the council title the notice eqxh year).

Any form of continued defiance is only going to escalate the matter to the point a confrontation will probably happen. Like I say I’m not that way inclined, I live in a nice area so don’t really want my neighbours seeing a drama at my door step either.

Hopefully the next agent who calls will accept the council tax letter and cancel this line of enquiry in tracking them down.
Thanks all.
I would absolutely back it up in writing after your next conversation along with providing copies of your evidence and suggesting they return the warrant ( cant recall the correct term) to the court for cancellation.

it is huge PITA but worth persisting with for peace of mind.
 

Tom Quinne

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Definitely, I hope they can’t up with the previous owners we’ve had all kinds of problems with Virgin Media, EE and other mobile companies as well.

It wasn’t like they where hard up from money either, those type who think if you have some brass you can run away Xeon debt.
 

SargeNpton

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"In October 2020 I started getting letters from Dartmouth Crossing Ltd in relation to a toll which wasn’t paid, the vehicle reg I assume is the previous owners car so the toll charge notice has gone to the last keeper into the DVLA have."

The other thing you need to do, is to write to the DVLA to say that the registered keeper of the vehicle in question does not reside at your address. I had to do this a couple of years ago when a car was falsely registered at my house, but in somebody else's name, and I started to get parking and bus lane fines for it.

Once you get a confirmation from the DVLA that the vehicle is no longer connected to your address you can send copies of that confirmation to whoever sends you fines to back up your defence that you are not liable.
 

Tom Quinne

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"In October 2020 I started getting letters from Dartmouth Crossing Ltd in relation to a toll which wasn’t paid, the vehicle reg I assume is the previous owners car so the toll charge notice has gone to the last keeper into the DVLA have."

The other thing you need to do, is to write to the DVLA to say that the registered keeper of the vehicle in question does not reside at your address. I had to do this a couple of years ago when a car was falsely registered at my house, but in somebody else's name, and I started to get parking and bus lane fines for it.

Once you get a confirmation from the DVLA that the vehicle is no longer connected to your address you can send copies of that confirmation to whoever sends you fines to back up your defence that you are not liable.
That’s a good idea, I didn’t think I could do that. However wouldn’t I need to the know the registration of the vehicle, I don’t...
 

Mcr Warrior

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How does Mr. Moody get motor insurance? If the vehicle is not insured, then surely it's liable to get stopped by the traffic division's finest and seized at any time.

If it is insured, do motor insurers do any checks to ensure that addresses provided tie-up? Seem to recall that the last time I renewed my motor insurance, it left a footprint on my credit file.

Also, doesn't vehicle tax ("road tax") need paying annually / semi annually?

How does Mr. Moody effectively do that if the renewal gets posted to the OP's address?

If that's also unpaid, surely that's another reason the vehicle might ping ANPR systems.
 

Tom Quinne

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How does Mr. Moody get motor insurance? If the vehicle is not insured, then surely it's liable to get stopped by the traffic division's finest and seized at any time.

If it is insured, do motor insurers do any checks to ensure that addresses provided tie-up? Seem to recall that the last time I renewed my motor insurance, it left a footprint on my credit file.

Also, doesn't vehicle tax ("road tax") need paying annually / semi annually?

How does Mr. Moody effectively do that if the renewal gets posted to the OP's address?

If that's also unpaid, surely that's another reason the vehicle might ping ANPR systems.
All situations which should of forced him to register the vehicle to their new address.

Aside from the phone bills going unpaid, this is the first vehicle related debt we’ve been sent.

When they call again, ive no doubt they will I’ll show them my DL and passport hopefully that’ll be enough for them to mark my address off as a dead line of tracking then down.

The silver lining is when they do catch up with them the bill will be a little more then few pounds the Dartford Crossing toll was initially !
 

SargeNpton

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That’s a good idea, I didn’t think I could do that. However wouldn’t I need to the know the registration of the vehicle, I don’t...
Dartmouth Crossing tolls are automatically raised on the vehicle numberplate being identified by the overhead cameras, which is then checked against the DVLA register to see who the registered keeper is.

Did you ever get a bill from the Dartford Crossing asking for the toll fee to be paid (albeit it in the previous house occupants name)? If so, that would have included the vehicle registration.
 

Darandio

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Did you ever get a bill from the Dartford Crossing asking for the toll fee to be paid (albeit it in the previous house occupants name)? If so, that would have included the vehicle registration.

The opening post states that several letters were sent and returned to the sender marked with “not known at this address since May 19”.
 

Gloster

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I had a similar problem around twenty years ago when a previous tenant of the place I was renting had left a couple of large debts, but I am only working from memory. I had to repeatedly contact the debt collection agency to tell them that the person had moved before they finally gave up. One of the biggest problems seemed to be that I spoke to a different person each time and the company clearly had poor internal communications. Do keep a record of all conversations, make sure you have contacted all those whose addresses you have been given and be helpful by passing any information you can about the debtor. And, if it gets difficult, politely remind them that you are quite willing to take them to court if they step out of line.
 

Tom Quinne

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Dartmouth Crossing tolls are automatically raised on the vehicle numberplate being identified by the overhead cameras, which is then checked against the DVLA register to see who the registered keeper is.

Did you ever get a bill from the Dartford Crossing asking for the toll fee to be paid (albeit it in the previous house occupants name)? If so, that would have included the vehicle registration.
Yes, at this point I simply returned with not Known at this address.
 

Rutland23

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Debts like this can also impact your own Credit Score, as they are associated with the address. It might be worth checking with the Credit Reference Agencies about this.

Regards

Ian
 

Tom Quinne

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Debts like this can also impact your own Credit Score, as they are associated with the address. It might be worth checking with the Credit Reference Agencies about this.

Regards

Ian

Ive checked that isn’t correct.
 

Puffing Devil

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Debt Collectors, Bailiffs, or High Court Enforcement Officers? There is an important distinction. The former has no power other than veiled threats and coercion. The latter two do have powers to seize goods. Either way, you should deal with the matter ASAP - and never, ever, invite them in or allow them to enter your house. Once in they then have the power to force entry in the future.

Worth noting that cars on lease or HP can't be clamped for removal.
 

joncombe

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Debt Collectors, Bailiffs, or High Court Enforcement Officers? There is an important distinction. The former has no power other than veiled threats and coercion. The latter two do have powers to seize goods. Either way, you should deal with the matter ASAP - and never, ever, invite them in or allow them to enter your house. Once in they then have the power to force entry in the future.

Worth noting that cars on lease or HP can't be clamped for removal.

I have been in the same position as the OP where a tenant of the previous owner left a trail of debt, including unpaid court fines and was plagued with baliffs. They are thorough unpleasant characters and many don't care how they get the money or from whom. However they have no legal right to remove property unless they can prove it belongs to the debtor. So they cannot take your car unless they can prove it belongs to the debtor and if they try it's outright theft and you should call the police.

I do agree never invite them in and never answer the door to them either. Open an upstairs window and speak that way, but never ever open the front door to them.
 

malc-c

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So they cannot take your car unless they can prove it belongs to the debtor and if they try it's outright theft and you should call the police.
Whilst I've never been in this position, watching the programs that follow bailiffs and high court enforcement officers, it seem that the ball is on the other foot and it's down to the person to prove ownership rather then the agents. This is why it's always important to keep receipts for high value items (or anything that you purchase).

I've skimped through this thread, but if it's simply a case of proving the OP is not related to the ownership of the car in question then that should be simple enough by showing ID. If the agent refuses to do the same then I can see the OP's concern, and I thought it was a legal requirement for an agent to show paperwork or ID as part of the process. Whist the OP mentioned the police acting as intermediary the OP could have asked to see the paperwork that has a telephone number of the office and ring them to contact their agent to get him to be more civil and show his ID. That would dissolve the situation and the OP could then provide proof of his ID and ownership of the house, which hopefully would put an end to the matter.

Years ago I part exchanged a car with a dealer and then received demands for outstanding parking tickets. I simply wrote to the agency involved, enclosed a copy of the sales receipt where the car was sold, plus a copy of the registration document which had the sections completed showing the transaction had been made and as these tickets took place after the date of sale was not my responsibility. I never heard any more on from them.
 

richw

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However they have no legal right to remove property unless they can prove it belongs to the debtor. So they cannot take your car unless they can prove it belongs to the debtor and if they try it's outright theft and you should call the police.
Incorrect. It’s down to the vehicle owner to prove it doesn’t belong to the debtor. A V5 isn’t adequate, as that clearly states it doesn’t prove ownership. It needs to be invoice from time of purchase. Same for any other goods. And let’s face it how many of us save invoices for every household item?
 

Tom Quinne

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Update on this, the debtor received a letter today in relation to the matter.

After googling the address on the envelope I called the company to tell them the situation. Over the phone the very helpful lady ran a electoral register check which turned up the correct information that they are no longer registered to vote here.

She said that she was happy the debtor has moved on and there and then removed my address from their system, she did ask if I could send in a council tax demand letter for the file - which I’ll do.

The debt now stands at £600, up from £90 as well.
Oh well here’s to it going over £1000 before they catch up to the
 

TheEdge

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I've had Dart Charge come after me for a previous tenants unpaid crossing fees and from my experience of dealing with Dart Charge (both this incident and a time I genuinely forgot to pay within 24 hours and got a Penalty Notice) they tend to be really good to deal with.

I phoned Dart Charge, told them I didn't own and never had owned that car. They said if that was the case contact the DVLA and have the car unregistered from the address. And with that the problem was solved.
 

Bungle158

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Not quite sure how we got from debt collection agents to bailiffs quite so quickly. Debt collection agents have no power of entry, they cannot threaten car clamping or removal of goods and you are not obliged to speak with them.

You are under no obligation to prove your identity to a collection agency, but it is probably wise to do so, if only to limit hassle. Do not deal with agents on the doorstep, but write to the DCA head office with your proof, explaining that you require your data to be destroyed once processed. You can request notification that this has been done.
 
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