A consumer complains after a debt collector repeatedly contacts him over mistaken debt

Debt Collecting Distress and inconvenience Up to £750

Charlie had been dealing with a debt collector repeatedly contacting him about a debt he supposedly owned, even though they hadn't proven it. Even though he said he didn't owe the debt, they then started legal action, so he got in touch with us.

What happened

Charlie said a debt collector repeatedly contacted him about a debt which didn’t belong to him. He told the debt collector several times that he was unaware of the debt, but they continued to ask for payment and also started legal action.

When the debt collector initially wrote to Charlie about the debt he explained he had no knowledge of it and asked for proof that he owed it. He heard nothing back for some time before receiving another letter requesting payment. Charlie again told them he didn’t think he owed anything.

Charlie continued to receive letters and telephone calls over the next few months. As he didn’t receive any proof that he owed the debt and there was nothing showing on his credit file, he didn’t reply. And knowing the debt wasn’t his, he wasn’t too concerned. But he was shocked to be contacted later on by the debt collector informing him that legal proceedings would be brought against him. Charlie again asked for proof of the debt, which the debt collector provided. He then provided his own evidence to show he didn’t owe it. But in the meantime, the debt collector had started legal proceedings. A few months later the debt collector then accepted the debt wasn’t Charlie’s and he’d been traced incorrectly and offered £400 for the trouble he’d experienced.

What we said

Whilst we found that the debt collector thought it was seeking to recover payment from the correct person, we didn’t feel it had treated Charlie fairly. They didn’t provide him with the information he’d asked for to contest the debt and had continued to chase him for a number of months. They also started court proceedings after Charlie had told them and provided evidence to show the debt wasn’t his.

We felt that this matter had unnecessarily dragged on for some time, causing Charlie additional distress on top of that caused by the incorrect trace. He received multiple calls a day which he found frustrating and was then caused considerable worry when he thought he was going to be taken to court. Once Charlie had provided evidence to show he didn’t owe the debt, he still had to wait a few months before the debt collector accepted he wasn’t responsible. We felt the debt collector’s offer to pay Charlie £400 compensation was appropriate to recognise the frustration and the worry that its actions had caused him.