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Debt collectors


Le_Jars

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We have some friends who have some debts back in the UK that won't go away and they are being threatened with visits from debt collection agencies here in France. Has anyone had any experience of agencies like that here?

Many thanks for any information.

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There was a thread on the topic last year

http://www.completefrance.com/cs/forums/11/950095/ShowPost.aspx#950095

Also try a search for 'credit card debt'.

I don't think there is any doubt that mechanisms do exist to recover cross border debts but obviously a lot will depend on the sums and how determined the creditor(s) are to recover them. Most financial institutions I think will persue significant debts at almost any cost if only to discourage deliberate fraud by demonstrating that they are not a soft touch.

Sadly I think it's quite likely that there are more than a few people in France who have simply run away from UK because of debt. Given the alleged rate of return some may be in for a very rude awakening if they ever do go back.

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A colleague of mine had a similar question a couple of years ago re unsecured debt and was advised to ring the UK National Debtline who's advice was if you are leaving the country the chance is you will not be pursued.  I was shocked by this and rang myself with a bogus enquiry along the same line (unsecured debt of around £10,000 moving to mainland Europe, blah blah blah) and to my amazement received the same advice!!  With an extra snippet of information saying if in a few years (I think it was 5 or 6) you have not had contact with the collectors and they have not issued a court judgement in your absence you can claim your creditors are out of time ................ However, I must add that I am lucky not to have ever been in this position but realise that some people are faced with horrific debts through no fault of their own and no situation is black and white.  Here is the link to the organisation mentioned: http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
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I noticed only yesterday that a debt collection agency was advertising for 'representatives' on a certain web site for English speakers in France (though I can't find the ad now so I presume it has been removed). So those who run away from their British debts should look out... [:D]
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[quote user="Magoo"]A colleague of mine had a similar question a couple of years ago re unsecured debt and was advised to ring the UK National Debtline who's advice was if you are leaving the country the chance is you will not be pursued.  I was shocked by this and rang myself with a bogus enquiry along the same line (unsecured debt of around £10,000 moving to mainland Europe, blah blah blah) and to my amazement received the same advice!!  With an extra snippet of information saying if in a few years (I think it was 5 or 6) you have not had contact with the collectors and they have not issued a court judgement in your absence you can claim your creditors are out of time ................ However, I must add that I am lucky not to have ever been in this position but realise that some people are faced with horrific debts through no fault of their own and no situation is black and white.  Here is the link to the organisation mentioned: http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk[/quote]

The 5/6 year cutoff is not strictly true. It only means that provided the debtor has had no contact with, not admitted to the debt or received no demands for payment within this time then the creditor cannot use the courts to pursue the debtor for payment, but it does not wipe out the debt. In the case of smaller amounts this rule tends to make the pursual of debts by collection agencies less attractive but does not rule it out. The creditor is entitled to pursue the debt for as long as he likes.

cheminot

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This is an extract from the government guidelines regarding debt collection and section 5 of the Limitation Act:

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued debt collection guidance which looks at whether a debt is being collected fairly. They say:

  • it is unfair to pursue the debt if you have heard nothing from the creditor for six years;

  • the OFT thinks it is fair to keep trying to recover the debt if the creditor has been in regular contact with you during this time;

  • it is unfair to mislead you by saying the debt is still legally recoverable when it isn't;

  • it is unfair to keep pressing for payment after you have told them you won't be paying the debt because it is statute barred.

If this is happening then you can complain to your local trading standards department in the council. They can take up your case for you. You can also complain to the OFT. Their address is at the end of the fact sheet. The OFT does not usually take up individual cases but their debt collection licensing enforcement team collects information that can be used to take action against problem creditors, who can even lose their consumer credit licence.

The OFT Debt Collection Guidance states further that "continuing to press for payment after a debtor has stated that they will not be paying a debt because it is statute barred could amount to harassment contrary to section 40 (1) of the Administration of Justice Act 1970".

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No the bailiff's and court's fees are paid by the debtor on top of the debt.  If people are thinking that by moving to France all their debts are just written off in the UK they should think again.   Lets hope the bailiffs use Ryanair to get to France, at the moment it must be cheaper than them getting the car out in the UK to reclaim a debt. 

Maybe the level of debt of those who have skipped the UK to France is now worth a few trips, after all it costs them nothing.  Whether they have powers to seize goods and cars as they do in the UK I don't know.

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Isn't it normal for the debt to be sold on?  So a business in the UK might sell the debt for say 80% of the total to a collection agency who is then effectively buying the hassle for reclaiming 100% thus 20% 'profit'.  I can easily imagine that a UK collection agengy may further sell the debt on to an overseas agency if they deem that cross-border collection would not be worth their while.  In any case, these days I think you are unlikely to escape debt in an European country.
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The larger debt collection agencies are often part of an international network of afiliated businesses, if not an international group, so it would just be a question of involving their associated office in the country here the debtor had moved to.

Also debts can be factored ie: sold on and you may therefore find your new creditor who bought your debt less friendly in their collection methods!

Another consideration, is that the credit reference companies like Experian are international companies, so your credit history can follow you wherever you move!

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[quote user="Le_Jars"]

We have some friends who have some debts back in the UK that won't go away and they are being threatened with visits from debt collection agencies here in France.

[/quote]

Message for your friends

The easy way to make a debt go away is to pay it. Or is that too simple ?

John

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I have an acquaintance, a middle-aged woman, who borrowed £20,000 to write off her existing debts.  She then used the £20,000 to run off to Egypt.  Life wasn't what she expected it to be, so she now wants to come home.  Surely she will face fraud charges?

 

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[quote user="Angelite"]I have an acquaintance, a middle-aged woman, who borrowed £20,000 to write off her existing debts.  She then used the £20,000 to run off to Egypt.  Life wasn't what she expected it to be, so she now wants to come home.  Surely she will face fraud charges?[/quote]Not necessarily, even if she used that as a reason for borrowing the 20k it's unlikely there would have been any legal obligation on her to actually use it that way. Many many before her will have borrowed with such intent and not followed through so just ended up owing more.

She will obviously be liable for repayment of the 20k, plus of course any additional amount accrued through court or bailiff action, plus the original debts she didn't pay off with it and their associated fees and charges, it won't be fun [:(]

Running away from debt is seldom a satisfactory long term solution.

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I work as a Credit Analyst in France, however I also control the International Litigation. I can't comment on Consumer Debt (personal loans, HP, C/cards, mortgages) as I only work with Commercial Debt, our Global Turnover is about EUR 12billion, EUR 750million in the UK.

It's Friday afternoon, everyone's on holiday except me, I'm bored, so I thought I'd try to clarify a number of issues.

1 We chase ALL debtors, where ever they are, or to where ever they move. Consideration of the debtor's ability to pay may be taken into account ie if they genuinely can't pay, we will eventually write off all, or part of the debt. Different companies will have their own policies, there is no "standard" policy.

2 Pursuing debtors within the EU is very easy. You obtain Judgement (CCJ in the UK) in your own country, and if necessary, a local court in the EU will be requested to enforce the Judgement with the tools at their disposal ie Hussiers, sanctioning deductions from bank accounts, confiscation of property (houses, cars, etc). In the fact the enforcement tools in most EU countries (particularly France) are very, very tough.

3 Time barred claims are 5 years in Germany, which we use as our model. However if the Claimant can show the Court they have made continuing efforts to contact the debtor (letter, trace agents, phone calls) this can be extended almost indefinitely.

4 Outside the EU life gets more difficult for people like me. However we have retained lawyers in most countries who will act on our behalf, or use one of the multinational collection agencies.

5 It is impossible to simply disappear in the EU. Where ever you are trace agents will find you for EUR 75.00+TVA, the fact that there has been no phone call, or knock at the door, probably means that they haven't got round to you yet.

However, I did once draw the line at a couple of Sicilians living in Moscow, I've seen the Godfather too many times and bottled out.

NB fraud is nigh on impossible to prove in the UK,as the Prosecution must prove Intent. If the Defendent continues to maintain there was no Intent, then unless there is categorical (written) evidence then the Presecution will fail.

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Talking of Moscow, I was reading a freebie english language version of a Russian newspaper on Aeroflot, and the authorities there are refusing to let people leave Russia until they've settled their debts. There was a guy who'd served his time, but the courts had also made a compensation payment to his victim. Until he'd settled it, he couldn't leave
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Part of the Notaire's job is to find out if you have any debts before you get your house sale lolly I believe? How far they dig I don't know, perhaps only Tax and Utilities? Be funny if you got £30k short and a note saying "I've paid off your debt ,with interest, to Bradford and Bingley".

Regards.

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[quote user="woody234"]someone told me that you can do deals with the creditors in the uk and they said if your on a low income you can offer to pay a pound a week[/quote] 

Really if you have skipped off to France to avoid payment, I don't think so somehow.  If anybody has watched any of the programmes about debt collection on BBC will know that is just not true, its the car first and then they take anything else that is of value to pay off the debt, income does not come into it and they have powers of entry  I was told by a gite owner who had been sued in the French courts about misrepresentaion about a house sale and lost..........  mind you if the description of the house was as far from reality as that of the gite,  it was an open and shut case .........,  that she had the bailiffs knocking on her door 48 hours after the judgement and was having to sell her house to pay the debt.

Mind you, if I was "in hiding" in France I certainly wouldn't be posting to any Forums asking questions about debts and bailiffs powers, but then again its always a friend asking isn't it...........[Www]

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