A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, November 12, 2010

Banks' debt collectors and their scams and scares

Andrew MacKinlay is a tough cookie not given to mincing his words. He's the Labour MP for Thurrock and I hazzard a guess he's got a sizeable personal vote. He's a very good Commons performer.

On the 22nd April 2009 he spoke in the House of Commons about the methods that banks and other lenders use to get money back from defaulting loans. Whilst it's perfectable OK to pursue debtors it must be done legally and in accordance with trading standards. The trouble is banks and others think they can scam and scare and carry on like Wild West characters.

He started that night by saying,"The purpose of this debate is to draw the House’s attention to the abysmal state of debt collection methodology and the spirit governing it in the UK and the wholly inadequate safeguards for good and innocent people who are endeavouring to pay debt or who dispute it. It is a matter of fact that the debt collection industry relies on a combination of fear and ignorance to make a profit, and that is despicable." The rest of his speech makes for sombre reading.

MacKinlay has done us a service by speaking up. However, that was a year and a half ago. If the Coalition Government is pushing fairness, let them deal with the legalised crooks described so admirably in this debate. One bit jumps out at me.

QUOTE: The radio programme to which I referred also demonstrated the courage of a Mr. John Cooper, who took on the communications company 3, which I have already mentioned. He had purchased, some time ago, phones for his daughters, but they did not work in his area. He cancelled his direct debit. It would appear that that alleged debt was sold to a company called HFO Services, which persisted, menacingly, in trying to get him to cough up some money, to the extent that his daughter was fearful that its representatives would seize property in the home. I heard on the radio—I think that the Minister will have done so, too—a recording of a telephone conversation in which a representative from HFO Services, speaking from a call centre in Asia, said: “Despite leaving several messages on your answer machine and despite trying to get in touch with you, you have failed to respond back. Now if I don’t receive your call today I would go ahead and forward the”— there followed an indistinct word— “to Northampton County Court so that there would be a county court judgement issued against you. And it might be also the court appointed bailiffs. If you want to save yourself some legal hassles please call me back.” That is completely and utterly contrary to the codes. Of course, the company was exposed by the BBC. In a feeble statement, the outfit called HFO Services said: “HFO views any alleged breach of the OFT guidelines or applicable legislation as a matter of the utmost seriousness.”

It would say that, wouldn’t it? That does not impress me. It tried to give an excuse and pretended that it would have an investigation. I have to say that the director of that company knows what is going on in his call centre. If he does not, he should, and anyway, he is culpable."

Strong stuff. But how long are we going to allow these businesses to get away with flagrant breaches of the law, of codes of practice and other guidelines? We need action now.


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