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  • FIRST POST
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 18th Aug 15, 11:37 AM
    • 98Posts
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    LJB290
    The Story of My Situation
    • #1
    • 18th Aug 15, 11:37 AM
    The Story of My Situation 18th Aug 15 at 11:37 AM
    My husband and I are on a fair joint income, we have a mortgage with just 3 years left to run and in that respect, I feel we are lucky with a light at the end of the tunnel.....

    We have credit card debt of around £20K.
    In March we finally decided to do something about our financial circumstances and put together a financial statement to see exactly where all our money was going. We were deeply shocked by the results but there were some very obvious (and fairly easy) changes to make that would put us on the path to debt freedom.
    We stopped using our credit cards completely and made some big changes to the way we lived.

    Just two weeks later we received a letter and discovered that a company that we had dealt with back in 2011/12 had dissolved. Unfortunately this company was dealing with previous credit card debts - they were/are called Highbridge and (for a 20% fee) they legally transferred the debt to themselves to challenge the lender using various consumer credit laws etc.
    Now, before you tell me that there is no such thing etc etc ..... obviously, we now know this.
    The only reason that we took the "deal" in the first place was that a close family member worked for the business and answered every single question that we had AND put his own card through the system as part of the due diligence process.
    Clearly, we were scammed (by the business, not the relative).
    At this point, the CC debt was potentially transferred back to us to deal with.
    Another £24K to add to the debt. (two cards)

    Highbridge had set up (without our knowledge) a £1 per month payment plan to Link Financial for 18 months (and paid a whole £2 before dissolving).
    We decided to continue paying rather defaulting but not accepting liability of the debt.

    The other card was given to Robinson Way back in 2012 and we heard from them a couple of times - but nothing since. (although still marked as defaulted on the credit report).

    We fought hard and made complaints all over the place about Highbridge and have reported them to Action Fraud etc along with many other financial institutions where they were regulated/authorised but have now arrived at making a claim using a claims manager (along with about 200 other customers).
    We can only hope that this results in us getting our 20% fees back and maybe use them for F&F settlements in the future whilst continuing on our current cut-back living plan.

    Then BANG - the washing machine breaks down.........
    Next - Christmas - I've already started to worry about the expense.

    This post is not so much about asking questions but putting our situation down in writing.

    Any advice or guidance is obviously greatly appreciated.
    There is little point in telling us how daft we were signing up to the company in the first place; we know it was too good to be true but when a very close relative tells you its a "no-brainer" unfortunately you tend to believe them when faced with so many positive facts about the company, past success, processes and high profile people involved etc.

    What's done is done - we have accepted this and we are concentrating on moving forward and learning from all our past mistakes (and teaching the kids at the same time).

    In 3 years time, (providing we are both still employed etc), the £1,000 a month that we currently pay to the mortgage, will be going straight to our credit card debt instead.

    Thanks for reading.
Page 1
    • crazy_cat_lady
    • By crazy_cat_lady 18th Aug 15, 1:21 PM
    • 3,353 Posts
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    crazy_cat_lady
    • #2
    • 18th Aug 15, 1:21 PM
    • #2
    • 18th Aug 15, 1:21 PM
    I'm new here, but I know there is lots of fantastic advice to be had. I suspect Sourcrates, Tixy or Fatbelly will be along with words of wisdom soon.
    It must be a rotten situation to be in...
    NSTSeptember #32 NSD 8/18 RYSAW17 #1 £1313.42 20p Savers #88 £1 a day for Xmas # DFD 6 Nov 15 - paid £28,447
  • National Debtline
    • #3
    • 18th Aug 15, 1:48 PM
    • #3
    • 18th Aug 15, 1:48 PM
    Hi LJB290,

    Try not to give yourself too much of a hard time…as you say – what’s done is done (and we are all wiser in hindsight). Now you have to look to the future at what options you have to deal with the debts. I would suggest you start with a new SOA (you have probably done one of these before) but I think it will help you to regroup and take back control of all of all of your spending. It will also highlight any debts that may be being dealt with disproportionately. There are a few other things that I would also like to help you with from your post.

    Another £24K to add to the debt. (two cards).
    Originally posted by LJB290
    So, how much debt is owed as a total? Some of the key points to help you determine the best option available, to deal with your debts, are to consider: -
    • your total debt level
    • the type of debt (if they are all credit debts then they should be treated in a fair and proportional way)
    • how much surplus money you have to pay towards them
    • what options would put your assets at the most risk?
      Based on your post you should try and avoid options like bankruptcy and IVA’s
    along with many other financial institutions where they were regulated/authorised but have now arrived at making a claim using a claims manager (along with about 200 other customers).
    We can only hope that this results in us getting our 20% fees back and maybe use them for F&F settlements in the future whilst continuing on our current cut-back living plan.
    Originally posted by LJB290
    Unfortunately, it is unlikely the claims management company will be able to recover any money for you and you may just be throwing good money after bad – be very careful. I hope this helps you move things in the right direction – good luck with everything.

    Laura
    @natdebtline
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 18th Aug 15, 2:27 PM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    • #4
    • 18th Aug 15, 2:27 PM
    • #4
    • 18th Aug 15, 2:27 PM
    Thank you for your replies and for not telling me what a fool I've been!

    The total debt currently stands at:

    1) £14,900 - Card 1 - Halifax - (Originally £10,800) - Sold/ transferred to Robinson Way in Dec 2012 after Highbridge took on the card. (No contact from Robinson Way or Halifax since December 2012 but Highbridge may have information in their files - we have asked for files to no avail).

    2) £10,580K - Card 2 - MBNA (Virgin) - Sold/transferred to Link Financial after Highbridge took on card. £1 per month arrangement from Feb 2015 for 18 months - arranged by Highbridge who paid the first £2.00 (thanks very much).

    3) £11K - Card 3 (no involvement by 3rd party) - balance decreasing and not being used.

    4) £12K aprox ( Card 4 (no involvement by 3rd party) - balance decreasing and not being used.

    Obviously our credit rating (well, my husband's anyway) is shocking so it is unlikely that we can re-mortgage or get a loan etc. My credit score may be better - on Noddle it is 3/4)

    The claims management company are taking on a large number of cases affected by Highbridge on a no-win-no fee basis. We do have an upfront fee to pay but it is minimal and we think, worth the risk at this point.

    We have put together an SOA and felt much more in control of our spending and habits prior to the Highbridge situation arising in March.
    We managed to cut right back, made some very positive changes and made £1,000 per month available to pay the 2x (unHighbridged) credit cards.
    We have taken up reduced interest rate deals with another credit card and transferred another proportion to a lower interest rate.

    Qu's
    1) As we have heard absolutely nothing from credit card 1 since 2012 (Halifax/Robinson Way) - should we even attempt to wake this potential giant by offering F&F or a payment plan at this stage?

    2) Should we continue to pay £1 per month to credit card 2 (MBNA/ Link Financial)?

    3) We intend to use any money (if the claim is successful) to make an offer to the card(s) in F&F settlements. We also have a small amount in savings to add to this if necessary.
    Is this a good idea as we are currently not being harassed by any debt recovery agency or credit card lender - at the moment.

    Again, thank you for you patience and advice.
    • woodbine
    • By woodbine 18th Aug 15, 5:28 PM
    • 18,345 Posts
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    woodbine
    • #5
    • 18th Aug 15, 5:28 PM
    • #5
    • 18th Aug 15, 5:28 PM
    is there any chance of selling the house and downsizing thus releasing the equity in order to pay off all your debt,and of course being £1000 a month better off plus lower overheads?
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 19th Aug 15, 9:48 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    • #6
    • 19th Aug 15, 9:48 AM
    • #6
    • 19th Aug 15, 9:48 AM
    Nooooooooooo!

    With just 3 years left on the mortgage, there is no way we would even contemplate selling our property to downsize as we still have two kids living at home and a mother-in-law who stays with us for about 3 months per year.

    In fact - to sell our house would be counter-productive as renting or buying another house would probably cost more in monthly rental or mortgage repayments unless we bought outright which would likely see us somewhere not as nice.
    We have been in our house for 18 years.
    Last edited by LJB290; 19-08-2015 at 9:53 AM.
    • runforlife
    • By runforlife 19th Aug 15, 10:14 AM
    • 326 Posts
    • 345 Thanks
    runforlife
    • #7
    • 19th Aug 15, 10:14 AM
    • #7
    • 19th Aug 15, 10:14 AM
    Great positivity LJB Good on you!

    Regarding CC1 - Robinson Way i'd be inclined to make no contact with them and put aside payments that you would otherwise make to them. It's been nearly 4 years and no contact. What's to think that will change anytime soon? Then if they do contact send the 'prove it' letter and work from there.
    Last edited by runforlife; 19-08-2015 at 10:20 AM.
    April 2017: Now over £24,700 (45%) debt repaid since DMP commenced in October 2013.
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 19th Aug 15, 11:00 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    • #8
    • 19th Aug 15, 11:00 AM
    • #8
    • 19th Aug 15, 11:00 AM
    That sounds like sound advice regarding Robinson Way! Thank you.

    What is a "prove it" letter? Asking for the original CCA?

    I think its important to stay as grounded and positive as possible given the situation. I know we have to move forward and make changes but we can't change our past behaviour.
    We have proved that we can live without living off the credit cards (unless large items blow up - thank you washing machine).
  • National Debtline
    • #9
    • 19th Aug 15, 2:19 PM
    • #9
    • 19th Aug 15, 2:19 PM
    Qu's
    1) As we have heard absolutely nothing from credit card 1 since 2012 (Halifax/Robinson Way) - should we even attempt to wake this potential giant by offering F&F or a payment plan at this stage?

    2) Should we continue to pay £1 per month to credit card 2 (MBNA/ Link Financial)?

    3) We intend to use any money (if the claim is successful) to make an offer to the card(s) in F&F settlements. We also have a small amount in savings to add to this if necessary.
    Is this a good idea as we are currently not being harassed by any debt recovery agency or credit card lender - at the moment.
    Originally posted by LJB290
    Hello again,

    In response to your questions I would say the following: -

    (1). I would not advise you to ignore the Robinson Way debt – it has been about 3 years since that debt was last dealt with and they have a minimum of 6 years to chase you. I appreciate that informal payment plans wouldn’t necessarily stop a creditor taking enforcement action but as this debt is so far away from being statute barred it seems quite risky to ignore it. Payment arrangements may encourage a creditor to freeze interest and charges and delay court action which means you are more in control of the situation.

    In answer to (2) and (3) you must treat all of your creditors fairly. You mentioned having approx. £1000per month available for your debts but some debts are getting nothing, some are getting £1per month and others are getting significantly more….all of the debts are equally enforceable. You should divide your money fairly (whether that is on a monthly basis or with a lump sum). If you don’t and the creditors become aware of this then there is a risk they may be more aggressive in enforcing the debts as you are not treating them all fairly (known as preference payments).

    We have further information on our website about negotiating and potential enforcement action.

    Laura
    @natdebtline
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • woodbine
    • By woodbine 19th Aug 15, 4:18 PM
    • 18,345 Posts
    • 24,709 Thanks
    woodbine
    Nooooooooooo!

    With just 3 years left on the mortgage, there is no way we would even contemplate selling our property to downsize as we still have two kids living at home and a mother-in-law who stays with us for about 3 months per year.

    In fact - to sell our house would be counter-productive as renting or buying another house would probably cost more in monthly rental or mortgage repayments unless we bought outright which would likely see us somewhere not as nice.
    We have been in our house for 18 years.
    Originally posted by LJB290
    it was only a suggestion not an instruction
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 19th Aug 15, 4:25 PM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    Ha Ha - I know!
    • dancingfairy
    • By dancingfairy 19th Aug 15, 5:49 PM
    • 8,962 Posts
    • 7,344 Thanks
    dancingfairy

    The claims management company are taking on a large number of cases affected by Highbridge on a no-win-no fee basis. We do have an upfront fee to pay but it is minimal and we think, worth the risk at this point.
    Originally posted by LJB290
    Firstly there aren't any magic wands, secondly, anything they can do by writing a few letters you can do yourself with help and guidance from people on here. I would really advise against throwing good money after bad.
    You can sort this out but you need to be taking advice from the 'right' places (such as National Debtline or Stepchange).

    df
    Making my money go further with MSE
    How much can I save in 2012 challenge
    75/1200
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 20th Aug 15, 11:01 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    I have written countless letters and have taken advice from various debt help-lines and a couple of fee solicitors.
    They don't really seem to grasp the whole story to be honest.

    The claims management co and solicitors that they have on board will have more "clout" and know who to target etc. The fees for this are minimal and won't have an impact on our finances.
    We think it is a worth a shot as I have exhausted my research and letter writing - I would prefer to hand it over to people who (hopefully) know what they are doing.
    • patman99
    • By patman99 20th Aug 15, 8:42 PM
    • 8,059 Posts
    • 9,476 Thanks
    patman99
    What about engaging the services of one of the debt charities such as Payplan or Stepchange ?.

    You could begin a DMP with all the debts (except the mortgage) added to it.
    Doing this has the advantage that you will have to produce an SoA but you can tell them you smoke & drink (even if you don't) in order to allow you to reduce the amount you will have to pay each month.

    This will extend your pay-back period, but will allow you to live a normal life.

    Once you have paid-off your mortgage, you can use this extra money to increase your DMP payments.
    Never Knowingly Understood.

    Member #1 of £1,000 challenge - £494.94/ £1000 (that's 49.49%)

    3-6 month EF £240.61/£3600 (that's 4 days worth)

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    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 21st Aug 15, 10:38 AM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    I will certainly keep this in mind moving forward...... it does seem to be a sensible idea but......

    How do DMP's affect you in daily life? Applying for a mortgage or loans etc? I don't think we will need either of these (but you never know).....

    2 of our credit card debts are being managed without ever being defaulted so I wouldn't want to upset the lenders by using a DMP. I assume we would lose access to these cards if we entered a DMP?????

    The other 2 cards are the defaulted ones that were sold to Highbridge. One DCA has not contacted us for several years and the other one is being paid £1 per month at the moment for up to 18 months (summer 2016). We are hoping to then be in a position to offer F&F settlement.

    Should I really upset the apple cart at this time with DMP's - especially when we are reducing the balance of the two "good" cards each month and the others are quiet?
    • cmac
    • By cmac 22nd Jan 17, 9:38 PM
    • 129 Posts
    • 36 Thanks
    cmac
    What about using section 75 as you paid on credit card? I don't know if this would work, I'm no expert, maybe someone else knows. Good luck with it all
    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 22nd Jan 17, 9:43 PM
    • 12,204 Posts
    • 11,657 Thanks
    sourcrates
    What about using section 75 as you paid on credit card? I don't know if this would work, I'm no expert, maybe someone else knows. Good luck with it all
    Originally posted by cmac
    Unfortunately this thread is 18 months old, and the OP never came back to update us further.
    Last edited by sourcrates; 23-01-2017 at 12:17 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Credit File And Ratings, and
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    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.

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    • cmac
    • By cmac 22nd Jan 17, 10:09 PM
    • 129 Posts
    • 36 Thanks
    cmac
    I didn't look at the date, thanks for letting me know
    • LJB290
    • By LJB290 2nd Oct 17, 4:15 PM
    • 98 Posts
    • 126 Thanks
    LJB290
    More than 2 years later......

    We are still waiting on the claims management company, although our case (along with many others in the same boat with the Highbridge scheme) is currently sitting with the Financial Ombudsman Service for a decision and has been for many many months.
    There is a whole raft of evidence about the unsavory characters who ran this scheme so we are hoping for some positive outcome .... one day!

    Credit Card 1 (referenced above) - is still sleeping and we have heard nothing since around Dec 2012. We defaulted payment (when transferred to Highbridge) in October 2012 and have not claimed the debt is ours or made any payment since then. There are no CCJ's on the credit report so we are hoping that this becomes statute barred in a few weeks from now (although we cant be sure that HIghbridge never contacted them about the debt - we doubt it).

    Credit card 2 - now with Link is ongoing and we continue to pay £1 pm until such time as we are in the position to offer a F&F settlement.

    As it happens, my credit rating was pretty good and I transferred all other debts to 0% cards for 4 years and we are making decent dents. The cards are not used for payments of any kind.

    The mortgage is paid off in less than 12 months and we will be throwing most of this extra money at out debts for 2 years which means we will be pretty much debt free in 2019.

    There is a light.......
    • Bedsit Bob
    • By Bedsit Bob 2nd Oct 17, 5:04 PM
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    Bedsit Bob
    You might want to post an SOA, so the members can suggest ways, to increase the cash available to service the Mortgage and other debts.
    My job is Top Secret. Even I don't know what I'm doing.

    Amount I have so far denied the BBC - £1161
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