Link Financial called me – what now?

If you’re getting calls and visits from a company called Link Financial, you’re not alone and there are lots of ways to deal with them.

Being chased for debt from a company like Link Financial can be a very stressful experience, but debt collectors don’t have nearly as much power as you might think.

Link Financial is a business in the UK, which offers debt collection services to companies. They also buy debts from companies at a small percentage of their total cost, and then chase the debtor for the full amount. If you’re being contacted by Link Financial, it might be because you owed debt to another company, and Link has bought that debt from them.

Trethowans
Trethowans

If Link Financial send debt collectors to your home and ask to be let in, don’t listen to them. Although these visits can be very distressing, a debt collector cannot legally enter your home without your permission, and it is against the law for them to threaten or harass you. Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of things that Link Financial are legally not allowed to do, so that you know your rights.

However, it is also important that you don’t ignore your debt to Link Financial. Not being able to afford debt repayments isn’t a criminal offence in the UK (even if debt collectors do threaten, unlawfully, to send you to prison), but Link Financial are unlikely to stop pursuing the debt if you ignore it, and could take out a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you.

The good news is, there are many ways for you to deal with your debt in a manageable way, and see some or all of it written off.

How can I deal with Link Financial debt collectors?

You can deal with Link Financial Debt Collectors, by agreeing to a debt repayment plan that works with your finances, or getting your debt wholly or partly written off with an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or Debt Relief Order (DRO).

If you are in serious debt, you may choose to declare bankruptcy to get your debts written off, although this is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it will significantly affect your credit score and assets.

Let’s look at each of these options in detail, so that you can discover the one that works best for you, and deal with Link Financial for good.

Check if you actually owe the money

If you’re contacted by Link Financial about repaying debt, the first thing to do is find out:

  1. Whether you actually owe the money
  2. Where the debt has come from, and the original amount that was owed

Check whether the debt belongs to you, and that you recognise it. Link Financial could be chasing a former tenant or roommate for the debt, or even a family member who has given debt collectors your address instead of theirs. Debt collectors will sometimes just send out letters to several people with the same name, hoping that somebody will fall for it and pay the debt. This is obviously highly unethical and against regulations. If you have reason to believe that this has happened to you, report it straight away to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

You should write to Link Financial and ask them to send you a copy of your original credit contract. If they can’t give you this information, you have no obligation to make any payments to them.

If they send you your original credit contract, use it to find out the original amount you owed. Debt collection companies like Link Financial frequently add interest and extra charges to your debt. It is unlawful for any debt collection service to demand more than 8% interest on a debt that is owed, so if any debt collector demands more than this, refuse to pay it.

Your options for help

So, you’ve looked at all the necessary information, and found that you do owe the debt. The good news is that you have plenty of options to deal with your debt, and even get it written off.

Getting Link Financial to stop contacting you

The experience of being hounded by creditors for money you don’t have is really stressful and debilitating. The first thing people often ask is: how can I get Link Financial to stop contacting me?

Obviously, the most immediate way to get Link Financial to stop contacting you, is to pay them the debt in full. However, many people are – understandably – not in a position to do this. You can ask Link Financial to contact you via letter rather than making phone calls, which may reduce the intensity of the stressful communications.

Sometimes, you can demand a 30 day grace period to work out how to manage your finances, where your creditors will not be allowed to contact you.

However, the only way to stop Link Financial contacting you for good (and potentially trying to make you bankrupt if you continue to ignore payments), is to take action against your debt with any of the following options.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a government approved debt help scheme, which helps you if you’re struggling to repay your debts to Link Financial or any other creditor. An IVA is a formal agreement made between you and the people who you owe money to, and it is managed by an Insolvency Practitioner.

An IVA allows you to pay back a small part of your total debt, and get the rest of it written off after just a few years. At the end of the IVA (which runs for 5-6 years), no matter how much money you have left to pay back, the debt gets cleared.

You will make small, monthly payments towards your debt, based on what you can afford. You should always be able to meet your essential household needs (such as food, electricity and warmth), and your Insolvency Practitioner will look at your expenses and decide a reasonable amount for the monthly repayment, based on what you can afford. IVA Advice offers free, qualified advice on whether you are eligible for an IVA, and how to arrange one.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

If you owe less than £20,000 in total and you have very little spare cash and assets, you could get a Debt Relief Order. This is a personal insolvency process which gives you legal protection from Link Financial and any other creditors, and writes off your debt after one year.

Link Financial will no longer be allowed to contact you, putting a stop to stressful calls and letters. A DRO is one of the quickest ways to escape from debt, as it is all cleared after just one year. However, you have to own extremely little to qualify for a DRO, which means many homeowners can’t get one, as their house is a valuable asset.

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

DMP either through a charity or a debt management company, will allow you to make reduced payments to Link Financial based on what you can afford, and freezes the interest on your debts. This means that you can focus on repaying your debts, without worrying about mounting interest.

You’ll get a debt adviser who will look at your essential expenses, and calculate what you can actually afford to repay to your creditors. Your adviser will deal with your creditors on your behalf, meaning that Link Financial is no longer allowed to contact you directly. A Debt Management plan also helps you protect your valuable assets, such as your home or car, which protects you financially for the future.

As well as helping you pay your debt at a manageable rate, Debt Management Plans prove that you have taken action on your debt. This is far better than continuing to ignore debt, which may eventually lead to court action (you won’t go to prison for being unable to pay debts in the UK, but you may have some of your assets seized by bailiffs).

At the end of your Debt Management Plan, your credit rating will look much healthier than if you had continued to miss payments, or had to file for bankruptcy.

Charities like StepChange and Christians Against Poverty offer free debt management plans.

Charities to turn to

Many people have been through the stress of debt, and understand the isolation and fear you may be feeling.

There are a number of debt advice charities which offer free and expert advice and support around dealing with debt collection agencies like Link Financial.a Much like a debt management company, many debt charities will communicate with your creditors for you, putting an end to stressful communication, and work with you to become debt free.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP)

CAP works with churches across the UK and offers free help, advice and debt management support. If you’re in debt to debt collectors like PRA Group, CAP will take all communications off your hands, and help you work out a budget so that you can pay off your debt while also meeting your necessary expenses. Anyone of any faith or no faith at all can get in contact with a CAP worker and receive support.

StepChange

Step Change UK is a debt charity that is funded through the government, UK banks and other donations. They offer a truly comprehensive, three-step process to evaluate your financial situation and will help you set up a debt solution with PRA Group and any of your other creditors.

Business Debt Line

If you’re self-employed and in debt to Link Financial, it can feel really hard to work out a repayment plan when your income fluctuates from month to month. Business Debt Line offers free debt advice to help you work out a budget where you can start to pay some of your debt off, while also meeting your reasonable expenses.

Citizens Advice Bureau also offer a wealth of useful information on debt, including how to report harassment from creditors.

Your rights against Link Financial debt collectors

While it is against the law for Link Financial or any other debt collection agency to behave in a manner that is threatening or abusive, this does unfortunately happen at times.

Debt collectors often work on bonus and want to make a profit from you, and they have a variety of ways to try and get you to pay up. There are laws to protect you against unacceptable behaviour from debt collectors, and it is important that you know your rights. Debt collectors may:

  • Employ automated calls that attempt to ring you every half an hour, until you answer.
  • Subject you to relentless calls, some of which are harassing and abusive; and some of which are polite and friendly – this is a psychological tactic intended to confuse you.
  • Fake documents or tell lies, for example, that they are allowed to enter your home and take your possessions, or that you’ll go to prison (neither of these are true).

If Link Financial debt collectors or any other creditors behave this way, they are breaking the law. You should report them immediately to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 100,000 people attempt suicide each year due to debt, and it is a disgrace that the behaviour of debt collectors contributes to this.

However, you now know that you have options, whether that is a DRO, an IVA or a debt management plan, and that a future free of debt and pressure is more than possible.

Link Financial are not allowed to do the following:

1) Call you at work

Calling you at your place of employment, or letting anyone at your workplace know that you have a debt, is strictly against Office for Fair Trading (OFT) laws.

The debt collectors who use this tactic want to embarrass you into paying up by letting your workplace know you have an issue, and you should report them immediately.

2) Contact you on any social media platform

If Link Financial contact you via any of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.), keep a copy of the communication and report them.

3) Contact you outside of 8am-9pm on working days, or at all on weekends and holidays

Link Financial debt collectors can only contact you within these specific hours. If any of them contact you outside of these hours, mark it down and report them.

4) Reveal the details of your debt to family members or friends

Similarly to calling you at your place of employment, debt collectors may try and put psychological pressure on you to pay them by revealing details of your debts to your family or friends. This is illegal and any debt collector who does this is in breach of both the laws established by the OFT, and privacy laws too. You should report them immediately.

5) Add additional costs onto the debt that were not specified on the debt repayment contract

Under UK debt collection regulations, the maximum interest that a debt collection agency can add to an account is 8%. If Link Financial try to add more, refuse to pay it – you know your rights.

6) Give false allegations or misleading information of any kind, for example, pretending that they have legal powers which they do not possess

Debt collection agencies have, in the past, created documents which look like official court documents, or lied to debtors and told them that the debt has already been through court, and that they are sending bailiffs to seize the person’s property.

In fact, only the court themselves can send bailiffs, not a debt collection agency, so any debt collector who threatens this is breaking the law.

7) Operate in a way that is considered threatening or abusive

If you feel physically or psychologically threatened or harassed by a debt collector of bailiff, you have the right to call the police. Any of the behaviours above come under the description of harassment by creditors, according to Citizens Advice Bureau.

Debt has a way of making us feel totally alone in the world. If you are struggling with debt, I can promise you that you’re not the only one. In the UK, the average amount of debt per adult is over £30,000. The UK’s total interest payments on personal debt is estimated to be £45,431 million over the course of a year.

However, now that we’ve run through the wide range of options you have for dealing with your debt in a way that is affordable to you, and possibly writing some or all of it off, I hope you realise how possible a debt-free life is for you.