How do collections services handle disputed debts?
In the next chapter of our ongoing blog series, Ryan Collins, Collections Manager at Credit Style, explains the typical process that takes place when a debt is disputed and also shares his advice on what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
Over to Ryan…
At Credit Style, our experienced team of collectors and credit management professionals regularly help businesses recuperate funds, taking away a time-consuming but essential task so they may focus on their business priorities. It is not uncommon however for debts that we seek to recover on behalf of clients to be disputed by debtors.
What is a disputed debt?
A disputed debt occurs when someone is contacted by one of our employees to settle what they owe one of our clients, but that person disagrees with the validity of the debt in question or the whether the correct amount is being sought either in part or in full. If someone has agreed to pay the same debt back in the past but failed to do so, they will not be eligible to dispute the existence or responsibility for the same debt.
Whilst this might be perceived as a delay tactic, Credit Style always takes disputed debts very seriously, as there are indeed circumstances where the issues raised are entirely valid. For example, a tenant may be contacted about a debt that in actuality their landlord should be responsible for. This is a very important matter as resolving the issue at this stage encourages debs to be settled earlier and prevents cases from escalating to legal recovery, as well as ensuring the person who is responsible for the debt is rightfully held accountable.
How are cases of disputed debt rectified?
Commonly disputed debts include those originating from utility companies as there can be discrepancies in elements such as supply periods. Fortunately, the majority of disputes can be proven one way or the other through evidence such as bills, registered meter readings and proof of spending. Credit Style will undergo a comprehensive fact-checking process once a debt has been disputed and will compile evidence such as copies of outstanding invoices and liability checks via the client that is seeking recovery.
Generally, this process will take between 7 to 10 working days and we recommend that you get in touch to request an update if it takes longer than this timeframe to hear back from us. When customers refuse to co-operate after a response is provided outlining the validity of a disputed debt, our in-house legal team can issue county court proceedings. Every conceivable settlement option is explored before court action is commenced, but our in-house legal team, CST LAW, is available to clients when it becomes clear the only way to recover monies owed is through legal action.
Credit Style holds a consumer credit license regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for agreements formed under the Consumer Credit Act. We are also authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and remain members of both the Civil Court Users Association and the Credit Services Association.
What should I do if I dispute a debt that is held against me?
The best piece of advice I can give to someone who disagrees with a debt that has been levelled against them is to communicate this to the recovery firm trying to contact them as soon as possible. The worst thing to do, if you feel a debt is unjust on invalid, is to ignore it and hope that it goes away or somehow fixes itself.
If you agree that a debt belongs to you but disagree with the amount, it is advisable to pay what you agree you are responsible for first, as showing a willingness to clear the debt may increase the chances the creditor will offer a reduction in balance to settle the dispute (though this is always at the creditor's discretion).
At Credit Style, we always maintain a customer focus and offer more flexible systems than the industry norm. We believe approaching debt recovery in this way increases client satisfaction and ultimately delivers better results. If a mistake has been made, the only way to ensure this is rectified is by communicating with us. Without making contact, or by deliberately ignoring calls, you lose the opportunity to explain why payment isn’t being made and risk the matter only getting worse.
If after contacting Credit Style about a disputed debt, or any other matter, you feel that you wish to make a complaint, you can do so. Credit Style treats all expressions of dissatisfaction from clients and customers seriously and has a clearly defined complaints process. We welcome feedback on your experience whether it is positive or negative, as this helps our ongoing training initiatives and benefits the internal progression of our staff.