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Channel 4's Dispatches Last Night - Undercover Debt Collector

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Just wondered if anyone saw the Dispatches programmes last night on Channel 4: Undercover Debt Collector.

Don't get me wrong: if you borrow money, then you should pay it back, but I couldn't help being disgusted by some of the tactics employed by the debt collection agency. Using multiple names for the same company, for instance (is it legal to pretend you are a solicitor when you're not?), and an utter disregard for people's personal circumstances (a man who had recently lost a baby was given short shrift).

What did become apparent, and which would probably be a comfort to those being harrassed by such organisations, was that debt collection agencies have very little powers (if any powers at all), which is why they precede all their threats with "may" or "with a view to". Most of their success comes from "fooling" the debtor into paying.

Did anyone else see this show?

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Guest X-QUORK

I caught the last 20 minutes. Pretty despicable characters in that Marlin office weren't they? Ironically, the same sort of people who missold Liar Loans and created the mess in the first place.

An ideal job for bullies.

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I caught the last 20 minutes. Pretty despicable characters in that Marlin office weren't they? Ironically, the same sort of people who missold Liar Loans and created the mess in the first place.

An ideal job for bullies.

The same sort of people who lied to get loans too.

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Guest happy?
Just wondered if anyone saw the Dispatches programmes last night on Channel 4: Undercover Debt Collector.

Don't get me wrong: if you borrow money, then you should pay it back, but I couldn't help being disgusted by some of the tactics employed by the debt collection agency....

The reason these people employ such tactics is that they work - the very same reason that in fact the last thing they want to do is resort to a county court. Were they to resort to a county court they would very quickly find themselves locked-up for contempt - I know - I've seen it.

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The reason these people employ such tactics is that they work - the very same reason that in fact the last thing they want to do is resort to a county court. Were they to resort to a county court they would very quickly find themselves locked-up for contempt - I know - I've seen it.

Could you elaborate? I've always known they sail very close to the legal wind and use threats / intimidation and people's lack of knowledge to coerce people to pay a debt they have effectively taken a punt on. I would be very interested in your specific example in what did they do exactly to end up in contempt? Thanks.

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Did anyone else see this show?

It was a pretty interesting watch, wasn't it?

It was good to get confirmation of my belief that debt collectors are really just a bunch of chancers who prey on the legally ignorant but geez, I didn't realise just what a bunch of vile pricks they are. And as for playing 'When The Going Gets Tough' over the office tannoy every morning to 'motivate' them ..! :blink:

But then I kept feeling torn due to the appallingly reckless financial behaviour of their 'victims' - like the woman who borrowed £8k to buy a car then made no effort to repay any of the loan whatsoever.

They deserved each other really ... glad that sort of thing isn't a part of my life.

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Guest happy?
Could you elaborate? I've always known they sail very close to the legal wind and use threats / intimidation and people's lack of knowledge to coerce people to pay a debt they have effectively taken a punt on. I would be very interested in your specific example in what did they do exactly to end up in contempt? Thanks.

No secret - it regularly happens. A judgement in a county court regulates the behaviour of both sides - the debtor has to pay the money at the agreed rate, the creditor is not permitted to menace the debtor. Most people who end-up with judgements against them (anything from a small claims judgement to full-blown bankruptcy) are highly relieved as harasment by their creditors' agents is effectively is stopped.

These people avoid the law like the plague. Once they think they can no longer extract money they will sell the debt on to someone else.

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But then I kept feeling torn due to the appallingly reckless financial behaviour of their 'victims' - like the woman who borrowed £8k to buy a car then made no effort to repay any of the loan whatsoever.

I agree that people who recklessly borrow money, and then make no effort to repay, deserve all the grief they get. But I feel sorry for those who have money troubles as a result bad fortune - bereavement, divorce, redundancy, etc.

The feckless willnotpay-ers will, I suspect, ignore the debt collection agencies like they ignored their original creditor. It's the people who are in debt as a result of bad luck who are the ones that will probably cave in to ruthless debt agencies. Which is why I would like to see the parasites shown in last night's programme clamped down on.

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Watched some of it, you need hard tactics to deal with hard people.... The key thing to remember is people took out loans and spent the money, and they don't want to pay it back. If they want to they could go bankrupt, but they choose not to....

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I feel sorry for those who have money troubles as a result bad fortune - bereavement, divorce, redundancy, etc. The feckless willnotpay-ers will, I suspect, ignore the debt collection agencies like they ignored their original creditor. It's the people who are in debt as a result of bad luck who are the ones that will probably cave in to ruthless debt agencies.

Yeah, good points.

(Come back for more tips soon, folks. Next week: how to marry a woman to hide your homosexuality.)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! :lol:

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Watched some of it, you need hard tactics to deal with hard people.... The key thing to remember is people took out loans and spent the money, and they don't want to pay it back. If they want to they could go bankrupt, but they choose not to....

exactly. It seems disgusting to normal people but the fact is that it takes those sort of bully boy tossers to deal with that sort of scum. It is just a shame when sometimes a genuine case like a single working mum has fallen behind and then gets harassed in this way.

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It seems disgusting to normal people but the fact is that it takes those sort of bully boy tossers to deal with that sort of scum.

:) Don't hold back, Richy ... but I see your point.

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I watched this, quite open mouthed. The people who do well in these sort of roles are the same sort of smooth talking b'stards who encouraged people into this mess. They were utter slimeballs on this programme. Nasty.

Granted, people are responsible for their own mess, but the pernicious culture of debt - 'because I'm worth it', 'I deserve it', was always going to bring with it a sizeable proportion of people who got swept along.

There was a politically driven cultural change of attitude to debt in this country promoted by the government, the banks and the media feeding off people's natural greed and conformist tendencies - it was always going to end in tears.

This is a culture that's spawned fixed penalty notices, surprise camera fines, the snitch on your neighbour mentality, guilty until you prove you're innocent, and the rest of the petty, oppressive bureaucracy... We seem to have lost so much of our humanity and common decency.

It is the cockroaches that will breed and survive.

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Anecdote rather than evidence but I would agree with a lot of what is said in this thread. They really are powerless chimps, but that is really for the best, as these people are total thugs.

The woman who used to live in my house didn't pay her congestion charge about a year after I moved in (so I'd lost their forwarding address), and didn't change her address when she moved out, with the result that they kept on sending increasingly threatening letters to her at my address. I kept calling up and telling them that she didn't live there and they kept on sending them, including hand-delivered bailiff notices saying they had authority to take my stuff away (haha). They said if you fax us your council tax bill we'll drop it (I thought this was a bit cheeky that I had to sort it out but whatever...) so I faxed it over, called them to see if they'd got it. They said no. I faxed again from a different fax, still they said no a week later, so I just got fed up with it.

Two weeks ago I got a letter saying they would be calling round with a policeman in attendance to help them take my stuff (hahahahaha), I checked this out with my lawyer and it turns out (in case anyone here is in this situation) that even if it was my debt, they can't force their way into the house and the police are usually called for the protection of the bailiff rather than to assist them (which they obviously aren't allowed to do). I got the bailiff's mobile number off the letter and called him up and explained the mistake again, he said that he wouldn't bother coming round and would just forget the issue.

Total idiocy the whole process, they must have wasted 2 trees worth of letters on me/her.

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Anecdote rather than evidence but I would agree with a lot of what is said in this thread. They really are powerless chimps, but that is really for the best, as these people are total thugs.

The woman who used to live in my house didn't pay her congestion charge about a year after I moved in (so I'd lost their forwarding address), and didn't change her address when she moved out, with the result that they kept on sending increasingly threatening letters to her at my address. I kept calling up and telling them that she didn't live there and they kept on sending them, including hand-delivered bailiff notices saying they had authority to take my stuff away (haha). They said if you fax us your council tax bill we'll drop it (I thought this was a bit cheeky that I had to sort it out but whatever...) so I faxed it over, called them to see if they'd got it. They said no. I faxed again from a different fax, still they said no a week later, so I just got fed up with it.

Two weeks ago I got a letter saying they would be calling round with a policeman in attendance to help them take my stuff (hahahahaha), I checked this out with my lawyer and it turns out (in case anyone here is in this situation) that even if it was my debt, they can't force their way into the house and the police are usually called for the protection of the bailiff rather than to assist them (which they obviously aren't allowed to do). I got the bailiff's mobile number off the letter and called him up and explained the mistake again, he said that he wouldn't bother coming round and would just forget the issue.

Total idiocy the whole process, they must have wasted 2 trees worth of letters on me/her.

I wonder, as some gormeless plod stands there catching flies how many people would be taken aback at the sight of a uniform and allow the baliffs in thinking that that it was a legal and enforcable demand.

Congestion charges? that is a state debt, a debt to government. Why is the government dealing with these sorts of clowns? oh yes.....brown.

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Anecdote rather than evidence but I would agree with a lot of what is said in this thread. They really are powerless chimps, but that is really for the best, as these people are total thugs.

The woman who used to live in my house didn't pay her congestion charge about a year after I moved in (so I'd lost their forwarding address), and didn't change her address when she moved out, with the result that they kept on sending increasingly threatening letters to her at my address. I kept calling up and telling them that she didn't live there and they kept on sending them, including hand-delivered bailiff notices saying they had authority to take my stuff away (haha). They said if you fax us your council tax bill we'll drop it (I thought this was a bit cheeky that I had to sort it out but whatever...) so I faxed it over, called them to see if they'd got it. They said no. I faxed again from a different fax, still they said no a week later, so I just got fed up with it.

Two weeks ago I got a letter saying they would be calling round with a policeman in attendance to help them take my stuff (hahahahaha), I checked this out with my lawyer and it turns out (in case anyone here is in this situation) that even if it was my debt, they can't force their way into the house and the police are usually called for the protection of the bailiff rather than to assist them (which they obviously aren't allowed to do). I got the bailiff's mobile number off the letter and called him up and explained the mistake again, he said that he wouldn't bother coming round and would just forget the issue.

Total idiocy the whole process, they must have wasted 2 trees worth of letters on me/her.

Sounds similar to a few years back when I cancelled a gym membership. However, the gym pestered me for two months' membership (about sixty quid). According to their terms and conditions, I was supposed to have given them two months' notice of cancellation, but instead I just cancelled my direct debit after not attending the gym for around six months.

After some to-ing and fro-ing with the gym's membership department, they eventually agreed to waive the cancellation charge.

I heard nothing for a couple of months, then - out of the blue - I received a letter from a debt collection agency whose name escapes me. The letter was dutifully thrown in the bin and forgotten about. But then they eventually started calling, getting frustrated at first because I refused to confirm my name and date of birth. Their calls inevitably ended with me hanging up on them.

I eventually caved in and told them that I disputed the "debt", and that the gym had verbally agreed to waive their tenuous cancellation charge. The debt agency said they would double check with their client, but that they would start court proceedings if it turned out that I owed the money. :lol:

I never heard from them again. I am kind of sad that they gave in so easily, as I was starting to enjoy myself.

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Guest theboltonfury

I am still a bit confused as to wat they can actually do?

They bought the debt so are chancing payment but it did sound like they can take legitamate legal action. Can someone clarify once and for all?

Ta

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Sounds similar to a few years back when I cancelled a gym membership. However, the gym pestered me for two months' membership (about sixty quid). According to their terms and conditions, I was supposed to have given them two months' notice of cancellation, but instead I just cancelled my direct debit after not attending the gym for around six months.

Same thing happened to me. It wasn't Bannatynes by any chance?

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I am still a bit confused as to wat they can actually do?

They bought the debt so are chancing payment but it did sound like they can take legitamate legal action. Can someone clarify once and for all?

Ta

They will buy, say, a 12K debt for a couple of hundred quid. By this stage the original creditor has cut its losses and effectively written off the debt. Debt collection agencies (DCAs) will then pester the debtor for the full amount, occasionally offering a reduced settlement figure, which still gives them a hefty profit.

If their pestering is unsuccessful, then instead of taking court action (a big financial risk for these companies) the DCA will sell the debt on to another company so that they can have a punt. By this stage the original credit agreement is lost in the flux.

Debtors who know the system often ask debt collection agencies to send them the original credit agreement. Often they cannot, which means that the debtor does not have to even acknowledge the debt.

Probably not quite the clarification you were looking for, but I am sure someone who knows their stuff will be along soon to set the record straight.

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I am still a bit confused as to wat they can actually do?

They bought the debt so are chancing payment but it did sound like they can take legitamate legal action. Can someone clarify once and for all?

+1

There was a bit in the programme saying that these companies 'buy' the debt in some cases for as little as 6p in the pound, up to 16p in the pound for more retrievable debt. It would appear that banks and companies are very quick to pass on the debt (similarly for mortgage debt, but we all know about that). There was also something about very old debts (>6 years) being non-recoverable, but if you hand over even a penny under the pressure they become live again - they will know this, they don't care.

Once they've got you, they adopt a very aggressive, bullying and intimidating approach, inferring things that skirt laws.

Best advice is for people to know where they stand. Whether you agree with the debt or not (see earlier post), you can imagine people sh!tting themselves.

Edited by tinker

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[...]

Debtors who know the system often ask debt collection agencies to send them the original credit agreement. Often they cannot, which means that the debtor does not have to even acknowledge the debt.

[..]

Does that really work?

My gf is getting harrassed over a mixed up mobile phone bill...

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Guest X-QUORK
No. Fitness First. Shower of shite. Never used to clean the sauna!

I imagine the sauna needed a good cleanout after you'd had the shower.

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I caught the last 20 minutes. Pretty despicable characters in that Marlin office weren't they? Ironically, the same sort of people who missold Liar Loans and created the mess in the first place.

An ideal job for bullies.

the Banks only get away with it because of they know the taxpayer will bail them out with an implicit guarantee

if you remove the implicit guarantee, let the buggers go bust and actually follow the free market/capitalism to its proper and natural conclusion then they would all be f*cked off.

but we can't have that can we...

I hate this blame the nasty/naughty bankers for making people take out loans crap, it's the politicians and the BOE who enabled it and should not bail them out thereby providing the moral hazaard. If they did, we wouldnt have any of these problems and the nasty bankers would rightly go bankrupt!

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Guest theboltonfury
the Banks only get away with it because of they know the taxpayer will bail them out with an implicit guarantee

if you remove the implicit guarantee, let the buggers go bust and actually follow the free market/capitalism to its proper and natural conclusion then they would all be f*cked off.

but we can't have that can we...

I hate this blame the nasty/naughty bankers for making people take out loans crap, it's the politicians and the BOE who enabled it and should not bail them out thereby providing the moral hazaard. If they did, we wouldnt have any of these problems and the nasty bankers would rightly go bankrupt!

The other side of this was summed up by the fat girl in constant tears as someone had the cheek to ask for their 8k back that she'd taken out.

'But we can't give them it or we'd be broke' - in the words of Brian Potter 'And I want to Moonwalk son, life's a shithouse'

take take take with some people ain't it?

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