Harassment come in many guises like open harassment, telephone harassment, letter harassment, covert harassment, e mail harassment and implied shaming harassment as well as engineered avoidance of response letter their contents and defences.
Resorts and their debt collectors employ silence, avoidance evasion disengaging and re engaging of other debt collector companies coupled with repeated and continual threats/demands both civil and legal, when they know, or ought to know that you are is dispute with their client claim
What is a Creditor
Creditors can be people/companies organisation firms and entities you seek to hold you to account for purported or proved debts you owe. If you owe money to a creditor and stop making payments, they can take action against you to get their money back.
Action is generally requests for payment from the resort. If they have not been able to engage you or you are in dispute they might choose to engage a debt collector who is just a sub contracted representative of the purported debtor. In short they have no other powers and quite different from bailiffs.
In this report we explain to you how creditors are expected to behave towards you if and when they are trying to recuperate their money or their client’s money.
We also explain to you what kind of behaviour is unacceptable and how to identify if you are being harassed by a propertied creditor.
Harassment come in many guises and is an action or inaction threatened or otherwise that makes you feel upset, distressed, humiliated or threatened.
We cannot help the way we feel and we all think and feel differently in different situations therefore if you feel you are being harassed by a creditor, there are several things you can do to stop it being perpetrated.
If you require assistance to talk to a creditor about their behaviour towards you, the TCA can assist you free of charge by calling them or simply emails them with the problem. A problem shared could be a problem halved. In any event you can have your rights explained to you by an independent organisation which has timeshare consumer’s interest at heart.
Typical Harassment Perpetrated by Creditor
If the creditor attempts to carry out any of the following actions or inaction with a view of getting money of you this could be considered harassment. If they are persistent and you have told them to stop “as it is upsetting you” them it will be harassment.
- contacting you several times a day, or early in the morning or late at night
- putting pressure on you to sell your home or take out more credit
- using more than one debt collector at a time to chase you for payment
- not telling you if the debt has been passed on to a debt collection agency
- using paperwork or business logos that appear to be official when they’re not, for example sending you letters that look like court forms
- putting pressure on you to pay all the money off, or in larger instalments when you can’t afford to
- threatening you physically or verbally
- ignoring you if you say you don’t owe the money
- telling someone else about your debts or using another person to pass on messages, such as a neighbour or family member
- falsely claiming to work for the court or be a bailiff
- implying that legal action can be taken when it can’t. For example, implying that your home can be taken from you without a court order
- giving the impression that court action has been taken against you when it hasn’t
- giving the impression that not paying the debt is a criminal offence. For most debts, it is not a criminal offence if you don’t pay them.
The list could be endless as the perpetrators of harassment reengineer tac-tic so as to remain effective. If they remain effective they will gain more and more instructions from their client.
What is not classed as Harassment by a Creditor?
If a debt is owed them of course the creditor is permitted to engage with the debtor with a view of getting paid. In reality if that was not allowed to happen the courts would be choked up and business would crash therefore not all action that a creditor takes can be classed as harassment. Creditors are permitted to take reasonable and conscionable steps to get back the money you owe them. These include:
- sending reminders and demands for payment
- telephoning you to ask for payment
- calling at your home, as long as this is at a reasonable time of the day
- taking court action
Harassment tends to commence if the alleged creditor has responded to the debt collector setting out the dispute and defended the responsibility and liabilities the creditors purports is due and owing.
If that is done then and the creditors choose to ignore your response and continues with the any of the above then harassment has commence. If a timeshare consumer re engages the collector and points out that they have failed to fully address your response and concerns and this again is ignored Harassment is being engineered and should attract legal action from you.
Who is Harassing you?
If you are the subject of harassment by a creditor it’s important to know who is asking for payment. They may not be the people you originally owed money to. This is because your original creditor may be permitted under the contract to pass the debt onto someone else to collect. If your original resort creditor does this, they can no longer pursue you for money. If your creditor decides to pass the debt on, they must tell you in writing before they do it.
Your debt may be collected by:
- your original creditor
- a debt collection agency acting on behalf of your creditor
- a third party who has acquired the purported debt from your creditor
What can you do about Harassment by an Alleged Creditor
Your first step is to find out who is actually collecting the purported debt. When established you then need to take the following steps:
- collect and establish evidence of the harassment by the creditor
- complain to the creditor in writing
- complain to the professional body who regulates them.
Collecting the Evidence
Before making a complaint, gather all available evidence which is in your position and control, this will assist you to support any claim. This can include:
- recording the number of visits or calls with dates and times. Write down what was said to you each time and who you spoke to
- any and all letters or documents you have received regardless of content.
- witness statements from friends neighbours or relatives who have witnessed the telephone calls.
Complaining to your Creditor
You ought to correspond with your alleged creditor explaining that you are becoming distressed and alarmed by the harassment and tell them to immediately stop. Explain to them how you want to be contacted in future and ask them to confirm this in writing.
You should explain (in the letter) that harassment is a criminal offence and you can and will take further action if your creditor persists and refuses (by action) to stop. Remember to send all letters by recorded delivery or e mail as these have prove of delivery and are dated. Keep copies, so that you have a contemporaneous records of your complaint.
If you need help to write this, get the advice of an experienced adviser.
Complaining to a Professional Body
You should always complain directly to the pursuing creditor first. If this does not solve the problem, complain to the professional body that they belong to or who regulates them. Your debt collector may belong to a trade association or professional body who has adopted “a code of practice” which sets out how they are supposed to behave towards you.
You can also contact the TCA who can help. We may be able to refer your case to Trading Standards and others.
In Northern Ireland, you can contact Consumer line at www.consumerline.org.
If your complaint is against a bank, building society or credit card company, they may belong to The Lending Code.
The Lending Code identifies and sets out standards that its members are obliged to follow. These include:
- time if you are in financial difficulties to try and sort out your debts before further action is taken
- guidance and support if you have fallen into debt because of mental health problems
- using trustworthy debt collection agencies who also follow The Lending Code if the debt is passed on or sold
- telling you before they pass or sell your debt to a new debt collection agency. This means that you should not be contacted by the new debt collection agency until after your lender has told you that your debt is to be moved.
You ought to complain to the bank, building society or Credit Card Company first, using their own complaints procedure. If this does not resolve your problem with them, you can advance a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, explaining to them that a debt collector or creditor has broken the terms of The Lending Code they have signed up to.
For more information about complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service, go to the Financial Ombudsman’s website at: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
For in depth information about “The Lending Code” or to establish if your creditor is a member, go to www.lendingstandardsboard.org.uk.
Complaining about a Solicitor acting for a Creditor
If solicitors are harassing you on behalf of a purported creditor, this is certainly professional misconduct. To make a complaint about them, you are required to exploit the firm’s internal complaints procedure first. If this does not resolve your issues, you are at all times permitted to complain to one of their professional associations. To work out which association you should complain to, you first need to check who the solicitor is registered with i.e. Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) or Law Society. www.sra.org.uk.
If the solicitor is registered in Scotland, you can forward a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) at www.scottishlegalcomplaints.com.
If they are registered in Northern Ireland, your complaint can be addressed to the Law Society. Go to: www.lawsoc-ni.org.
Complaining to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has lots of rules and guidance about debt collection. Although the FCA cannot take up your individual cases, they can refuse or revoke the firm’s authorisation or in certain events, levy a fine against the firm. You may consider reminding the creditor that in breaching the FCA rules could affect their continued TCA authorisation.
More about the FCA rules and guidance on debt collection are contained in the FCA’s Consumer Credit Sourcebook at www.fca.org.uk.
Illegal Money Lending
You may have been loaned money from a illegal money lender who someone who is not FCA authorised or approved. These lenders are often called loan sharks. In some cases they have been known to physically or verbally threaten you if you don’t or can’t pay back the money they allege you owe. They may also charge extremely high rates of interest. As a result they might allege that you end up owing more money than you originally borrowed.
It’s very important to reflect and remember that loan sharks are (as opposed to might) breaking the law by lending you money in this way. They are not permitted to enforce the high and extortionate rates of interest. You can’t be legally made to pay back the money! You have not broken the law if you don’t pay it back.
If you are being harassed or threatened by a loan shark, you can report them in confidence in the following ways:
Telephone: 0300 555 2222. Calls, including mobile phones, will be charged at local rate.
Text/SMS: text loanshark and your message to 60003. Texts will be charged at your network’s standard rate. E-mail: email@example.com
Trade and Professional Associations
The alleged creditor may belong to a trade or professional associations which have a code of practice (as explained) You can find a list of members on the organisations’ websites:
Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA)
Suite 4 The Wave
1 View Croft Road
Tel: 01274 714979
Credit Services Association
2nd Floor East
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 286 5656
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Finance and Leasing Association
15 -19 Kingsway
Tel: 020 7836 6511
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
25 The North Colonnade
Consumer helpline: 0800 111 6768 (free phone), 0300 500 8082
Last modified: March 11, 2016