Plaistow money advice organisation calls for stiffer penalties to tackle rogue bailiffs
- Credit: Archant
Rogue bailiffs who push people further into the red by slapping fees on top of debts need to get harsher punishments.
That’s the view of co-founder of Plaistow based non-profit organisation Money A+E ,Gregory Ashby, who listed a catalogue of concerns about debt collectors’ behaviour towards people in debt.
Mr Ashby said: “From our experience, there is still much improvement needed in debt recovery practices.
“It is often extremely difficult for residents to get bailiffs to agree to affordable repayment schemes. This leads to the original debt accruing additional fees and becoming unrepayable.”
He claimed that a £40 parking fine could rocket up to a £600 debt through extra charges from bailiffs who can use intimidating behaviour to extract money from people in debt.
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Mr Ashby said clients had come to the charity with problems over added fees with firms claiming payment for home visits which never took place, threats to seize items not belonging to them and refusing to accept affordable repayments.
“There needs to be stiffer consequences for bailiff firms when they act inappropriately,” he said.
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The former market trader was speaking in the week debt advice charity StepChange revealed it had seen the highest average number of clients with a county court judgement against them after falling behing with rent – 10 per cent in Newham compared to 6.2pc London-wide.
StepChange boss Phil Andrew blamed higher housing costs for pushing people into debt even though people in the capital earn more on average than the rest of the country.
He called for more resources for fairer debt collection so people in financial difficulty can make affordable repayments that don’t make their problems worse.
Watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates firms which collect debts owed under credit agreements.
It only investigates concerns about aggressive collection tactics when they involve firms that collect debts from customer credit or hire agreements.
Under FCA rules firms should treat customers facing credit agreement debt difficulties with restraint. This can include waiving, reducing or suspending further interest charges.
Money A+E works with black, Asian and minority ethnic and hard to reach communnities. Visit moneyaande.co.uk for details.