Harassment of People in Debt by Creditors

Harassment

Harassment of people in debt by creditors or their agents is a criminal offence under the Administration of Justice Act 1970. It is often difficult to know what to do when you feel a creditor is not dealing with your account fairly. In order for you to identify what activities by your creditors may involve harassment and what can be done about the problem, this factsheet outlines:

The relevant section of the Administration of Justice Act
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Debt Collection Guidance on harassment
How to deal with harassment by your creditors.

SECTION 40 OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE ACT

S40 Punishment for unlawful harassment of debtors.

1. A person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under a contract he: harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency, or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation; falsely represents, in relation to the money claimed, that criminal proceedings lie for failure to pay it; falsely represents himself to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment; or
utters a document falsely represented by him to have some official character, or purporting to have some official character which he know it has not.

2. A person may be guilty of an offence by virtue of sub-section (1) (a) above if he concerts with others in the taking of such actions as is described in that paragraph, notwithstanding that his own course of conduct does not by itself amount to harassment.

OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING CODE OF GUIDANCE

Many activities could count as harassment. It is important to note that anything done by a person which is reasonable when trying to recover a debt, is not considered to be harassment. Both the Office of Fair Trading and Trade Associations (run by the credit industry) have produced guidance on what activities may be considered harassment and should therefore be avoided by creditors. The following list is taken from the new Debt Collection Guidance for holders of consumer credit licenses.

Creditors are warned by the Office of Fair Trading under the Debt Collection Guidance that the following practices are “considered unfair”:

IT IS UNFAIR TO COMMUNICATE, IN WHATEVER FORM, WITH CONSUMERS IN AN UNCLEAR, INACCURATE OR MISLEADING MANNER.

This includes:

Letters that look like court claims

Not making it clear who the company is or what their role is

Unhelpful legal language

Not giving balance statements about the debt when asked

Contacting you at unreasonable times even when asked not to

Asking you to contact them on premium rate phone numbers.

THOSE CONTACTING DEBTORS MUST NOT BE DECEITFUL BY MISREPRESENTING THEIR AUTHORITY AND/OR THE CORRECT LEGAL POSITION.

This includes:

Claiming to work for the court or be a bailiff

Implying action can be taken that is not legally possible such as implying they could take your property
using a business name or logo that implies they are a government body

Implying that court action has been taken against you when it hasn’t

Implying not paying your debt is a criminal offence

Threatening to take court action in England if you live in Scotland or the other way round.

PUTTING PRESSURE ON DEBTORS OR THIRD PARTIES IS CONSIDERED TO BE OPPRESSIVE.

This includes:

Contacting you too frequently

Pressurising you to sell property or take out more debt

Using more than one collection company at the same time or not telling you when your debt has been passed to another company

Pressurising you to pay in full or in large instalments you cannot afford

Making threatening gestures or statements

Ignoring disputes about whether you owe the money

Trying to embarrass you in public or threatening to tell a third party about your debts such as a neighbour or your family.

DEALINGS WITH DEBTORS ARE NOT TO BE DECEITFUL AND/OR UNFAIR.

Examples include:

Sending letters addressed to the occupier or discussing the debt with someone without knowing if they are you

Refusing to deal with an adviser acting on your behalf

Not accepting reasonable offers or passing on payments you make

Refusing to freeze action if you dispute the debt.

CHARGES SHOULD NOT BE LEVIED UNFAIRLY.

Examples include:

Claiming collection costs when the original credit agreement didn’t allow this to happen and making you think you are legally liable for the costs

Not putting the specific amounts that can be added for collection costs in the original credit agreement

Adding unreasonable charges.

THOSE VISITING DEBTORS MUST NOT ACT IN AN UNCLEAR OR THREATENING MANNER.

Collectors should explain the reason for any visit and give you notice of the time and date they will call

They shouldn’t visit if they know you are ill or vulnerable and if they find you are unwell or distressed they should leave

They should not come in if you do not want them to and should leave when you ask them to

They shouldn’t visit you at work or somewhere like a hospital.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HARASSMENT BY YOUR CREDITORS

The first step is to write to a creditor and outline your concerns about the company’s behaviour. Inform them that you are familiar with the terms of Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act and ask that the creditor takes steps to avoid similar occurrences in the future.

Tell your creditors how you would prefer to be contacted and ask that they confirm their agreement to this. A letter at this stage may avoid the need to take further action against the company.

Tell them you are aware of the OFT Debt Collection Guidance and that you will consider making a complaint about their behaviour under the guidance.

It is usually difficult to persuade the police to prosecute in cases of harassment unless a more serious offence such as violence, fraud or blackmail is also involved. Normally complaints should be made to the trading standards/consumer protection department at your local council.

They should investigate whether an offence has been committed and whether prosecution is appropriate. The penalty is a fine of up to £5,000 in the Magistrates Court. Also a conviction is likely to provide evidence that the creditor is no longer a fit and proper person to hold a consumer credit licence.

If Trading Standards will not act it may be worth contacting the Office of Fair Trading directly. The address is at the end of the factsheet. The OFT does not usually take up individual complaints but their Debt Collection Enforcement Team collects information that can be used to take action against creditors who can lose their consumer credit licence.

The creditor may be a member of a trade association with a code of practice. You could find out if your creditor is a member of a trade association and write to them with your complaint. A code of practice is not legally enforceable but the association may take some action against their members. Details of the main trade associations are at the end of the factsheet under “Useful Addresses”.

OTHER OPTIONS

Another alternative is for you to pursue your own prosecution in the Magistrates Court. This could involve considerable cost so you need to obtain proper legal advice first.

BT have a new service called “Choose to Refuse” which might help if you are getting a lot of calls from an unpleasant creditor. You have to key in a pin number after a call. The caller will then get an automated message if you don’t wish to take their call when they ring. The cost of the service is £8.00 per quarter.

If you receive a telephone service from another provider, contact them and ask if they have a similar service.

You could refer to the Malicious Communications Act 1988. This deals with the sending of letters or articles for the purpose of causing “distress or anxiety”. A person found guilty can be fined in the Magistrates Court.

To prosecute successfully, the letter or article sent would have to convey:-

A message which is indecent or grossly offensive

A threat; or information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender.

The Criminal Justice Act & Public Order Act 1994 Section 4a makes it a criminal offence to cause
Harassment, alarm or distress with intent by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

This can only be an offence if it happens in a public place not in your own home. The police would need to be contacted and prosecute for this offence.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes it a criminal offence to harass people and put people in fear of violence. The harassment must happen on at least 2 separate occasions. The police would have to agree to prosecute for this offence.

Top 5 iPad Finance Apps for Business

The past two years have been a whirlwind in mobile computing and people are embracing these new devices, like the iPad, at breakneck speeds. Apple’s Fourth Quarter revenues jumped 21 percent from a year ago, including the sale of over 11 million iPads. It’s clear that the huge advances in mobile devices are not only changing how we live our personal lives but also how we do business. For business, especially small business, some of the biggest advantages are coming from the app world. If you want to make your business finances a breeze, check out these apps:

1. Square: Credit card transactions have never been easier. The developers of this free app will send you an actual credit card reader that plugs into your iPad. It’s secure, easy, mobile, and even has built in analytics to track sales, collect tips and tax, and send electronic receipts via email or text. There is no need to delay the payment process anymore. Oh, and they only charge a 2.75% transaction fee: no contracts, fees, or merchant accounts necessary.

2. Expensify has the traveling business world in an uproar. The features of this app are impressive at the least: sync banking information to track purchases in real time, digitize receipts to reduce the chance of losing them (just snap a picture and the app will discern and note the necessary info), customize and email reports for approval, and be reimbursed to your checking account. You’ll be your accountant’s best friend with the organization and ease provided by this app.

3. Time Master + Billing: With a 4 star rating in the app store, this app sets the bar for time and expense tracking. The overall best feature is flexibility to be customized to fit how you work – rounding minutes, multiple running timers, billing rates, expenses, client project/tasks, and so many more options. There are even additional modules available to include invoicing, QuickBooks export, and wireless sync between mobile devices.

4. Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal: Similar to Square but a little bit more involved. It’s also a free app, but you have to jump through a few more hoops (AKA a 15 minute application process) to be approved to use this service. However, if you’re looking for a proven brand name, this may be for you.

5. QuickBooks Connect: This is a great supplement to your QuickBooks Online subscription (QuickBooks 2011 users you’ll have to get a paid subscription to use this app past 30 days). Manage customer information and balances; create invoices and sales receipts; convert estimates to invoices; email estimates, invoices, and sales receipts and more with this handy app.

Mobile computing can make all the difference in the efficiency of your business. Look for the bottlenecks in your financial administration and ask yourself, is there an app for that?

Kristi Daeda is an online marketing strategist that works with companies nationwide to define and execute powerful online marketing strategies. Read more about her thoughts on online marketing at her website [http://www.powerhousestrategy.com] or as featured on Mobile Apps Designers.

What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.

How to Successfully Capitalize on Special Finance Leads?

In a highly competitive market, it is very difficult to generate quality special finance lead by the dealers. The process results in unnecessary wastage of time, energy, and money. In spite of spending a lump sum amount on advertisement and on running PPC campaigns in Google, still a dealer fails to produce the desired number of leads to meet the monthly target. Dealers who cannot generate their own leads depend on the professional lead providers to supplement the flow of new sale opportunities.

All providers produce new sale opportunities through their own marketing efforts. They usually have a couple of websites for an effective auto lead generation. Through advanced adverts offline and online and use of social media, the highest quality of leads are generated in real time. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns are used extensively to generate as many leads as possible.

When sending the leads to the dealer client, the professional lead generators ensure they are sending only the best quality leads. A team of efficient professionals works to separate the good quality leads from the bad ones. Usually a provider uses a lead tracking software to track the number of leads coming from different sources from websites, landing pages, blogs, advertisements, etc.

Bad quality leads are generated when so-called potential car buyers don’t respond to calls being made from the lead generating company’s office or for that matter don’t reply to the emails sent at least 48 hours ago. Such sets of people are termed as ineffective leads and the list containing the personal details of such individuals are not sent to the dealer. Effective leads are those that respond instantly to a call or an email and show a genuine interest to buy a car.

There is a misconception amongst many dealers that the providers send a lead’s personal details to multiple dealers. The lead generating companies have teams that check whether the same leads are being sent to more than one dealership or not. Cross checking of leads received should also be done on the dealer’s part to reject duplicate leads.

The reason for the huge popularity of the external lead generators lie in the fact that they guarantee the generation of maximum high quality leads. Once people fill up an online inquiry form to learn more about a dealer and the auto loan application and approval procedure, the generator instantly starts following up with those people. Through regular communication and responding to the queries of potential car buyers, special finance lead can be generated successfully.

Experienced service providers spend all their time in doing quality research on the type of target audience a dealer wants to have. The providers will use the latest, innovative marketing strategies to create a long lasting impression in the minds of the people. One of the best chances to increase visibility is to have a strong presence in various social media web platforms for maximum auto lead generation. Through maintenance of social media accounts and regular posting of interesting articles, relevant news, photos, and videos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on grabbing the attention of potential car buyers can be increased to a large extent.

Matthew S Barredo is an expert researcher of special finance lead. He has over 7 years of experience in the genre of finance auto lead and the same. In this article, he has tried to educate the readers about choosing an ideal car lead generating company and auto lead generation for steady sales and profit.

The Advantages of Settling Credit Card Debt

Stop The Impulses and Start Settling Credit Card Debt
The most common cause for unpayable debts resides in the erratic credit card impulse purchases. Granted, with the amount of advertisement and so-called benefits of using your credit card to acquire expensive goods, few customers can completely resist the temptation. However, even the small credit purchases tend to accumulate to unimaginable heights, leaving individuals with few alternatives but filing for bankruptcy. On the other hand, the good news is that nowadays people have the option of settling credit card debt with the help of specialized agencies, in order to avoid the negative consequences that will remain imprinted on their credit history for years to come.

Right from the start, we would like to emphasize that the DIY attempt of settling your debt has very few chances of succeeding. In essence, the only category of people have a shot of settling credit card debt by discussing directly with the lenders are those who have undergone dire circumstances, such as sudden grave illnesses, expensive divorces or that have recently lost their jobs. However, these situation are by no means a guarantee that the creditor will be willing to listen to the plea, especially since the geo-economical climate has affected quite a lot of individuals.

On the other hand, settling your debt via specialized agencies is an one hundred percent viable solution for resolving seemingly impossible debt issues. As a side note, not all debt settlement companies are created equal and it is advisable to stay away from those that advocate unethical practices, have no insurance or do not grant customers access to their own money. Moreover, being able to terminate the contract with the said agency is an imperious criteria of selection and the maximum term in which they should be able to reimburse the cash in this situation cannot surpass seven working days.

Although customers will be required to account for an extra fee for settling credit card debt, this option is feasible in terms of finances in the long run. In fact, an efficient debt settlement agency will be able to save important sums of cash that would have otherwise been wasted on paying the interest rate on the constantly increasing premiums. Keep in mind that debt increases exponentially each month due to the late fees and the decreasing credit score associated with missing the payment, so the end to this unfortunate situation is nowhere in sight if you do not take action and settle your debt. However, it is advisable to discard idle promises such as being able to repay all your debts for a couple of bucks every month.

In essence, given the practices of credit card companies, which let’s face it are not always fair, many end up knee-deep in debt without even knowing it. If you are struggling to pay the credit card premiums and the best you could manage to do so far is keep the interest rate from accumulating, then it is crystal clear you are in need of financial counseling on settling credit card debt from here. Rather than causing irreparable damage to your payment history and credit card score, why not take the easier way out?

Pick up the phone and call Allied State Toll Free on 877-257-3317 Now and get out of debt ASAP also if you want to learn more read the best debt consolidation methods.

Settling credit card debt could be the best thing you have decided to do ever pick up the phone now and get out the whole you are in.