Does statute barred debt apply to people who have died?

Hi, just recently we started getting letters addressed to my father (or representatives of), he passed away nearly 12 years ago now, aged 80.  Apparently 12 years ago must have had a mobile phone contract, which I never knew he had as he barely used a mobile phone and I thought he used pay as you go in anycase.  Its been that long I can't remember what he had.  Anyway, the company he had the contract with must have sold the "debt" to a collection agency (Phillips & Cohen).  I did some googling on these and their specialty is chasing debts from people who they suspect may have passed away (or more accurately chasing their families for such debts).

I've not responded to any of their letters and don't plan to.

Am I correct to assume that since its been almost 12 years since my father passed, and no payments or correspondence relating to this 'debt' have been made in all that time mean that its Statue Barred?  Or does Statute Barred only apply to people living? I'm not sure how it all relates to debts owed by the deceased. 

The only worry I have is if they send people to the house, as my mother lives there and she's frail and in her 90's now, and can't be done with people chasing monies she doesn't have, and for a debt that wasn't hers.  Like I say, I have no intention of contacting this agency as I do not want to initiate a contract with them.  Is it a case of binning their letters?

Thanks for any help & advice.

Replies

  • JayDee70JayDee70 Forumite
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    I forgot to mention that the latest letter they sent listed the following 3 options...

    1. Send full payment and we will close the account and no further action will be taken.

    2. Send a partial payment and and your proposal for a payment plan thereafter.. or

    3. Call our office to discuss a proposal.

    The cynic in me says this is a fishing attempt, designed to reopen/acknowledge the debt and therefore by-pass the statue barred debt?  Hence why I'm reluctant to contact them and initiate a contract.  What, if anything, can a collection agency actually do in regards to chasing a debt from someone whose been deceased for 12 years?
  • madaboutspotsmadaboutspots Forumite
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    If the account was in your father’s name the debt should have died with him. Blowing in the wind springs to mind.
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  • JayDee70JayDee70 Forumite
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    If the account was in your father’s name the debt should have died with him. Blowing in the wind springs to mind.
    I guess that's what I suspected.  i.e. the letters are a fishing attempt to get someone in the family to acknowledge his debt and therefore become responsible for it.
  • edited 26 September 2022 at 4:37PM
    sourcratessourcrates Forumite
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    edited 26 September 2022 at 4:37PM
    Only the named debtor is ever liable for a debt no matter how many times any 3rd party acknowledges it.

    Once the debtor dies, if their assets do not cover all their liabilities, then it`s just bad luck I`m afraid.

    The limitation act can only be applied to a living person, your dad is no longer liable because he died and left no assets, it`s as simple as that.

    Debt collectors don`t usually knock-on doors these days, there are one or two exceptions, but their job is mainly call centre based (don`t confuse a debt collector with a bailiff).

    To put this to bed once and for all, a simple email stating your father died leaving no assets on (insert date) so therefore please consider writing off this debt because there is no prospect of you ever recovering any money towards it, would suffice, if you want to be more formal, send this in writing and enclose a copy of the death certificate (if you can).

    If you just ignore this, then collection activity will continue until they decide to move on, also there is a remote chance they could take legal action, which although bogus, could involve the matter being referred to bailiffs, who may attempt collection of the debt at his last known address, this will cause a lot of unnecessary hassle, and obviously would not be good for your mother.

    To avoid the above happening, and to have some piece of mind regarding your mother, I really would send the letter.

    Ex MSE Board Guide.

    More than a third of IVA`s fail....fact.
    Could A Debt Relief Order help you ?
    Never pay a fee for a Debt Management Plan.
    For free non-judgemental debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or CitizensAdviceBureaux.
  • pmartin86pmartin86 Forumite
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    sourcrates advice seems like its 100% bang on - that being said, the fact that such bottom feeding scum sucking companies can even exist infuriates me - The idea of something like this happening to my mum for example is so far beyond my personal moral compass I can't help but get angry - Is there anything that a normal person can do to limit the impact of these companies? Obviously, I don't want to break any laws, but if I can cost them time and money, id be all over it. 
  • edited 27 September 2022 at 6:27PM
    sourcratessourcrates Forumite
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    edited 27 September 2022 at 6:27PM
    pmartin86 said:
    sourcrates advice seems like its 100% bang on - that being said, the fact that such bottom feeding scum sucking companies can even exist infuriates me - The idea of something like this happening to my mum for example is so far beyond my personal moral compass I can't help but get angry - Is there anything that a normal person can do to limit the impact of these companies? Obviously, I don't want to break any laws, but if I can cost them time and money, id be all over it. 
    Debt collectors are a lot more well behaved these days, than they were say 10 years ago, constant calls/letters/threats to remove goods/unwarranted legal action/lies/intimidation you name it, it happened on a grand scale.

    They are now forced to be more "customer friendly" after a massive FCA crackdown which saw a number of them lose their consumer credit licence, others had to re-boot their operations from a grass roots level, and even change their management and trading names!!

    Although this is a distasteful situation, and I certainly don`t want to stick up for any debt collector, but its more than likely the DCA is unaware of the debtor's death, as the OP states he has not replied to any of their letters, so as far as they are aware, the person is just ignoring them, they won`t know why.

    Which is why I suggested the OP inform them of the situation, as it`s the simplest way to stop collection activity.
    Ex MSE Board Guide.

    More than a third of IVA`s fail....fact.
    Could A Debt Relief Order help you ?
    Never pay a fee for a Debt Management Plan.
    For free non-judgemental debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or CitizensAdviceBureaux.
  • peteukpeteuk Forumite
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    Can I ask what happened to the phone and its billing?

    If no one knew about it then its likely no one told the company about his death, does the letter state how much the debt is and when it was built up?  Is someone using the phone?

    Although this would suggest where the debt comes from, the advice as above still stands.
    Proud to have dealt with our debts
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  • JayDee70JayDee70 Forumite
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    peteuk said:
    Can I ask what happened to the phone and its billing?

    If no one knew about it then its likely no one told the company about his death, does the letter state how much the debt is and when it was built up?  Is someone using the phone?

    Although this would suggest where the debt comes from, the advice as above still stands.
    Its been that long that I don't really know what happened to his phone after he passed away, more than likely its was left in a drawer somewhere with his belongings.  I will need to visit my mothers and try and dig them out.  I know it will have gone unused as no one else would have had access to.  From what I gather from my mother - whose memory is failing - she thinks the billing was always paid in cash by my dad at a local 3G store (which is no longer there), there was no direct debit involved, which is why I think this bill got overlooked, as one of the first things we did was settle then cancel his DDs and close his bank account after he passed away.

    The phone won't have been used at all once he passed away, so I can only assume the debt that was acquired were for unpaid monthly connection fees, not for calls.  Which makes me think why didn't 3G pick up on this in the first place and continue to charge monthly fees (£300 racked up apparently) for a phone that hadn't been used in years.  Nor did we ever receive any letters from them saying such and such bill is overdue, as it would have been settled there and then,  But that's too late to query now as they obviously sold this debt on to various agencies years ago.  Its only now that Cohen are in touch and sending letters that we became aware of it.
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