Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Old Jan 20th 2011, 4:52 am
  #1  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 9
lucius is an unknown quantity at this point
Default What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

We left the UK about 3 months ago; we asked our phone provider to cut off the line but it turns out they didn't, and are demanding money for several months that we weren't there. They've now passed the debt along to a debt collection agency.

We could continue the amicable approach to settling this - go through the ombudsman's complaint resolution process, etc, and present all the evidence showing when we contacted them - or, we could just say sod off, we're not in the UK any more and good luck trying to get any money out of us.

The second route would be quicker, and infinitely more satisfying, but my question is, would it work? How will the debt collection agency react? What can they do, if anything?
lucius is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 9:27 am
  #2  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Temecula, CA
Posts: 4,759
GeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond reputeGeoffM has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

The ombudsmen approach should work if you have incontrovertible evidence - and even if not, not many companies like the hassle of fighting an ombudsmen. I'm assuming you didn't break any contracts.

I have heard of UK debt collectors selling their debt to US debt collectors. Whether that is true and legal I have no idea. It's not something I would like to find out the hard way, especially as the fees would be so much higher than the original debt. Of course, this assumes they know where you are, at least roughly.
GeoffM is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 10:32 am
  #3  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Maryland (via Belfast, Manchester, Toronto and London)
Posts: 4,771
MarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond reputeMarylandNed has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

I would do whatever you would do if you were still in the UK. You might end up back in the UK one day and you don't want this coming back to bite you.
MarylandNed is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 12:37 pm
  #4  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 38,867
ian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
They've now passed the debt along to a debt collection agency.
You should read up on the tactics that debt collection agencies (DCA) use in order to secure payment. The most common tactic is them telling you that if you don't pay immediately they'll take legal action. So... what is "legal action"? In a nutshell... it's anything that isn't illegal - such as pouring a cup of coffee, going to a show, etc. Unless they specifically say that they will sue you to collect, you can safely ignore them.

A UK DCA has no jurisdiction to collect a debt in the US. If they do happen to sell the debt to a US agency, you can probably settle for far less than what you would have otherwise owed... if the DCA specifically mentions that they'll sue!

At any rate, it's a civil issue... not a criminal one!

Ian
ian-mstm is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 3:18 pm
  #5  
.
 
Yorkieabroad's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2002
Location: Where bad things rarely happen in movies
Posts: 8,933
Yorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

How much are we talking here? If its a couple of months on a phone bill, (which presumably wasn't used in that time?) its going to be less than a hundred quid? I'd write them a letter setting out who you cancelled with and when, ideally including any proof such as written notice if you gave it. Tell them that you are no longer living in the UK, and if possible give proof of move out date. Mail it off to the phone company (not the debt collection agancy) and ask them to confirm the account is closed and nothing is payable. Then ignore the DCA - I bet they dont even know the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Act, which they would be subject to if they tried to claim in the country, regardless of where the debt is. In reality, a UK DCA isn't going to waste much time trying to collect on a transatlantic debt , and I doubt whether a US DCA would be interested in picking up such a small one from outside US jurisdiction either. Keep copies of all correspondence so that if you do end up back in the UK and there's a ding on your credit you can prove what happened.
Yorkieabroad is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 3:20 pm
  #6  
Forum Regular
 
keaki80's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Washington State.
Posts: 149
keaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of lightkeaki80 is a glorious beacon of light
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Lucius,
I had the same problem, but with the gas board. Before I sold my home, I moved to USA and left my heater there on pilot light only. When the bill came in it was x3 more than a normal winter when I lived there and used hot water and heating in all the rooms. I challenged this, asked them to check it and sent them what the normal winter bill had been. I thought I was being fair, but all they did was ask me for more money, then next thing I heard was from a collections agency.
I ignored it, as I felt I'm in USA what can they do, plus, I felt my "case" hadn't been dealt with fairly and I would be able to state my claim in a court of law.
About 6mths later I heard from ANOTHER collections agency with the usual threat, threat. I kept all the documents about this, because if it ever came to court, I wanted to be prepared.
Five years later, no burly collections agency guys have arrived at my door to take my TV to pay my gas bill!!
I think you're safe - they probably have no idea where you are; my mail arrived here with a British first class stamp on it; not even an international postage. I used to wonder if anyone had ever read where they're sending it to!
It would be easy to pay it; but it is annoying when you did everything right.

Good luck - and enjoy your life over here.
keaki80 is offline  
Old Jan 20th 2011, 10:56 pm
  #7  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 38,867
ian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad View Post
Keep copies of all correspondence so that if you do end up back in the UK and there's a ding on your credit you can prove what happened.
Generally, there would only be a ding on your credit report if the original company was one that reported to the credit agencies. I'm guessing the phone company doesn't report to the credit agencies.

Ian
ian-mstm is offline  
Old Jan 21st 2011, 1:09 am
  #8  
BE Forum Addict
 
kins's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,043
kins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond reputekins has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

We had something like this happen. Mis-sold a phone by Orange - they very very specifically said it was a month-by-month contract when it wasn't. When we tried to end the contract before leaving the country they said actually it was a year-long contract. So we found someone to take the contract over. Orange never sent the necessary forms despite repeated requests by phone and fax, so it never happened.

We stopped paying the bills, they told us they would go for a CCJ (?) against us, then they couldn't do that because we were out of the country.

They put a ding on our credit record.

When we returned to the UK a year later I put in a claim with Oftel, they investigated, they agreed Orange mis-sold the phone, Orange dropped all charges and took ding off credit record.

No idea if that helps you, but they never did anything about pursuing the debt once we were out of the country.
kins is offline  
Old Jan 21st 2011, 1:35 am
  #9  
Account Closed
 
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 38,867
ian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond reputeian-mstm has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by kins View Post
We stopped paying the bills, they told us they would go for a CCJ (?) against us, then they couldn't do that because we were out of the country.
CCJ - County court judgment.

Ian
ian-mstm is offline  
Old Jan 21st 2011, 6:28 am
  #10  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 9
lucius is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Ok, thanks everyone.

We are just talking £90 or so, hopefully too small an amount for them to care that much about chasing.

And I'm pretty sure they don't even know what country we're in, we have international mail redirection so we don't need to tell them our new address to receive correspondence.

I think we'll contact the ombudsman anyway as I'd feel better getting it resolved properly. Unfortunately we only asked them to cancel over the phone so we don't have written proof of that. So if that doesn't work out I guess we can just ignore them and wait to see how far they're prepared to take it.
lucius is offline  
Old Jan 21st 2011, 9:33 pm
  #11  
.
 
Yorkieabroad's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2002
Location: Where bad things rarely happen in movies
Posts: 8,933
Yorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
Ok, thanks everyone.

We are just talking £90 or so, hopefully too small an amount for them to care that much about chasing.

And I'm pretty sure they don't even know what country we're in, we have international mail redirection so we don't need to tell them our new address to receive correspondence.

I think we'll contact the ombudsman anyway as I'd feel better getting it resolved properly. Unfortunately we only asked them to cancel over the phone so we don't have written proof of that. So if that doesn't work out I guess we can just ignore them and wait to see how far they're prepared to take it.
Do you have itemized billing by any chance....? Prove you at least called them when you said you did......
Yorkieabroad is offline  
Old Jan 22nd 2011, 2:20 am
  #12  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 9
lucius is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad View Post
Do you have itemized billing by any chance....? Prove you at least called them when you said you did......
We do have itemised billing, but infuriatingly, customer service calls (which are free) don't show on the bill. I presume they must have a record of the call internally, even if they don't have a record of us asking to terminate the account during the call. If they were being reasonable you'd think they'd see that and listen to what we're saying ... but so far, no luck.
lucius is offline  
Old Jan 22nd 2011, 2:40 am
  #13  
.
 
Yorkieabroad's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2002
Location: Where bad things rarely happen in movies
Posts: 8,933
Yorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond reputeYorkieabroad has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Ah well, looks like you've got a course of action planned, and I can't see it causing significant problems down the line. Find Dave Ramsey on your local talk radio station and listen to some of his calls - might put yours in perspective....one of todays classics was a woman calling wondering what to do about a 27k car loan that was upside down, they were in arrears on, and they made 600/wk...
Yorkieabroad is offline  
Old Jan 22nd 2011, 2:59 am
  #14  
Just Joined
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 9
lucius is an unknown quantity at this point
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by Yorkieabroad View Post
Ah well, looks like you've got a course of action planned, and I can't see it causing significant problems down the line. Find Dave Ramsey on your local talk radio station and listen to some of his calls - might put yours in perspective....one of todays classics was a woman calling wondering what to do about a 27k car loan that was upside down, they were in arrears on, and they made 600/wk...
Yeah, this is absolutely not a big a problem
lucius is offline  
Old Jan 22nd 2011, 3:56 am
  #15  
 
Poppy girl's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: Reno Nevada
Posts: 15,917
Poppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond reputePoppy girl has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: What can a British debt collection agency do if you're abroad?

Originally Posted by lucius View Post
Ok, thanks everyone.

We are just talking £90 or so, hopefully too small an amount for them to care that much about chasing.

And I'm pretty sure they don't even know what country we're in, we have international mail redirection so we don't need to tell them our new address to receive correspondence.

I think we'll contact the ombudsman anyway as I'd feel better getting it resolved properly. Unfortunately we only asked them to cancel over the phone so we don't have written proof of that. So if that doesn't work out I guess we can just ignore them and wait to see how far they're prepared to take it.
90 Quid BOLLOCKS to them Welcome to the US
Poppy girl is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.