Are debts ever written off?

I just wondered whther anybody knew if debts are ever written off after a certain amount of time. I'm sure I heard that if a debt collection agency hadn't been in contact for 4 years they could no longer chase the debt - in effect it had to be written off?? Or have I just made that up?? :confused:

I am all of a sudden being chased for a debt from 1999 (approx 2k) which at the time for certain reason's I couldn't pay - Now out of the blue I've had a letter from Cabot informing me that they will 'be calling on Friday 29th April'. They've found me!!! Yikes! :eek:

Now I really would love to pay the debt off once and for all but just want to know where I stand before I call them. There hasn't been a day in the past 5 years that I haven't expected a knock at the door from bailiffs or a dreaded letter but you know how it is - if you have a poor credit rating you can't get a loan to pay off your debts unless you are a homeowner and how the heck can I become a homeowner with poor credit rating??? Martin you need to do a Jeremy Vine program on this!! :o

I'm married now and live in my partner's house - I've moved many times over the past 5 years and have spent time abroad so thats probably why its taken them soo long to catch up with me. My hubby doesn't know about any of this and I feel sick since the letter arrived - I know what these debt collection agencies are like and they always speak to you as if you are a piece of poo! I'm dreading calling them. I know its a relatively small sum - altho I bet they've added all kinds of extra charges on but I feel really awful like a naughty child - how stupid can you be!!


  • deemy2004
    deemy2004 Posts: 6,201 Forumite
    The statue of limitation is 6 years.
    They have 6 years to take action against you after which most debt is beyond the time limit. The 6 years runs from the last time you made payment or acknowledged that you owed money to them in writing.

    Since its 5 years, they can still take action against you, by action I mean a court judgement / order, afterwhich the 6 year rule does not apply.

    You say the debt is 1999 ?

    This is important because from 1st Jan 2000 to the present is 5years and 4 months ! So WHEN in 1999 ? As the clock is tickign against them !

    You maybe able to get away with it, if they DO NOT have a court judgement against you if you tell them you do not know anything about the debt, SO DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE the debt !!! If they do have a court judgement and can show you evidence of it then its too late and you will have to pay.

    So continue to deny the debt until they show you a court notice that says otherwise. If it is beyond 6 years since you last acknowledged the debt and they have not already taken a court order against you then its too late, and tell them its beyond the statue of limitations of 6 years ! and they should go to court (too late to get the money back !).
  • homersimpson_3
    homersimpson_3 Posts: 1,249 Forumite
    i would strongly suggest you obtain some legal advice (e.g. cab, local law centre) before speaking to Cabot and perharps more importantly tell your husband. all relationships have to be based on trust and worries/fears/good times in marriage should be shared. it'll make the situation worse if you don't tell him and they just turn up on the door.! are you a member of union- some have 24 hour legal helplines- which will advise on such matters. solicitors will often provide 30 mins free interview where you can free general advice on what to do.
    not an expert but seems they can recover money from you even after 4 years. even if a person is dead companies can still pursue the dead man's estate to recover monies owed. there is something called a voluntary arrangement where you come to agreement with creditors so you become debt free in 5 years but this is something that you should be just simply enter into. unlike bankrucptcy voluntary agreements are never published and is just a private agreement between you and creditors. they may have a court order to repossess goods up to value of debt owed and if so the debt could be alot higher when you add on court costs/admin costs etc.
    you need to start thinking of ways of clearing debt- can you pay them all of debt and get them off your back? can you pay by installments. some companies will write off part of debt if they think they have no chance whatsoever of getting all of it and debtor agrees and tries to pay some. may be unlikely if you and/or hubby are working because you have income to pay debts.
    you still have 4 days left - they're not coming until Friday. use the time wisely and obtain the legal advice you need. ring the cab, law centre, union, solicitor tommorrow- forewarned is forearmed. and more importantly tell your husband tonight (not tommorrow or the day after). ask him to come to cab with you. explain why the debts ran up and why you haven't told him. show him the letter and anything else they've sent you. you'll have to crawl and eat humble pie for a while but if he loves you he'll support you. goes without saying- once you get yourself out of this mess don't put yourself and him into another. he may not forgive you a second time particularly where you haven't been open with him from the start. Sorry it's harsh but sometimes people need it!
  • sportY_3
    sportY_3 Posts: 21 Forumite
    Thanks for your input everyone ! I feel so much better today because I have told my husband what has happened and he is going to support me through it. He just can't decide now whether to pay off the amount - whatever they ask for, or haggle, or tell them to b*gger off if they call round! He is being so good about it. I think i've read enough on here now to know that I shouldn't be scared of them and just deal with it on Friday. What we are wondering though is how much the debt might have grown to - thats the worrying thing - altho I'm pretty sure the interest was stopped years ago. And thats another thing I don't think the debt is over 6 years which is a bummer. The letter from Cabot reads ..."we will be calling on Friday 29th April between 8am and 8.30pm..." DO YOU THINK THIS MEANS COMING ROUND TO MY HOUSE OR CALLING ON THE TELEPHONE???? I think they word it like that so it scares you into ringing them. Not sure where they would get my tel. number because we're ex directory - or am I justbeing naive?? - They are probably gonna call round at the house.....think i'll keep the curtains shut YIKES!!!
  • Debt_Free_Chick
    Debt_Free_Chick Posts: 13,276 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Please, please, please call the National Debtline for advice as to what to do next

    0808 808 4000
    Warning ..... I'm a peri-menopausal axe-wielding maniac ;)
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