One of the biggest players in the Debt Collection industry is a company (or several companies!) in Kent called Cabot Financial. They take on debts for many of the major credit card companies, and in my case are claiming to act on behalf of Barclaycard and chasing me for a four-figure sum.
This blog entry will tell you the story so far, and hopefully give you some practical advice if you’re in a similar situation.
Cabot first contacted me via a debt collector called “Scotcall” back in February this year, demanding payment otherwise they’d send the boys round. Armed with advice from the Consumer Action Group I sent them a request for sight of the credit agreement they were relying on (see the “advice and templates” section). Despite having a strict timescale to adhere to, they ignored me until I got Trading Standards involved at which point they chickened out and passed the account back to Cabot.
So I sent a request to Cabot (not that I needed to, the account was already in dispute) who initially told me it could take up to 8 weeks for a reply as they needed to obtain the agreement from Barclaycard. They also sent a “Notice of Assignment” on Barclaycard headed paper – although it is interesting to note that this was undated and unsigned.
Cabot’s 8 weeks duly elapsed, and by allowing things to drag on for so long Cabot also committed an offence under the Consumer Credit Act. As Cabot clearly did not possess a credit agreement, I reasoned that they had no right to my money and, more importantly, no right to my personal data.
I therefore sent them a Section 10 Data Subject Notice asking them to stop processing my data, and to remove the default they had placed with the Credit Reference Agencies despite never having any paperwork to back up their claim.
This appeared to confuse Cabot, as all I received for the next two months were letters asking me for my patience while they investigated my complaint – despite the Data Protection Act allowing them 21 days to respond to the Notice I’d sent them.
When they did eventually respond they enclosed a barely legible copy of a Barclaycard application form, nearly FIVE MONTHS after I’d sent my CCA request. Notice I say “application form” rather than “credit agreement”, for that is what it was. The Consumer Credit Act makes it clear that a properly exectued credit agreement contains certain prescribed terms without which the agreement is unenforcable. Cabot also supplied a load of legal-sounding guff about how I was bound by its terms, and ended the letter with a demand for payment.
I wrote back, effectively asking “is this all you’ve got?” – seeking clarification as to whether this was their idea of a properly executed credit agreement, and which of the several companies within the Cabot group I was actually dealing with. The eventual reply boiled down to their assertion that as I’d been a Barclaycard customer in the past I must logically be in debt to Cabot.
Not convinced of the lawfulness of their arguement, I wrote back stating that I still considered the account to be in dispute and would not be making any payments.
And that, in a nutshell, is the story so far. You’ll realise that this is by no means a quick and easy process, and that Cabot do not give in easily. But neither do I, and if necessary I’ll take Cabot to court to prevent them processing my data without consent in the form of an executable credit agreement. However, I’m pretty sure that Cabot’s greed will see them taking legal action against me soon, and I’m genuinely looking forward to them testing their arguement in front of a judge.