One thing is for sure – nobody likes to owe money to anyone. But things couldn’t get much worse than Jennifer Walker’s story. Ms. Walker was subjected to an ordeal for five whole years over a debt that was not even hers!
For five whole years, Ms. Walker got threats from debt collectors that they were going to repossess her house. She was subjected to bailiffs shouting through her door, and was contacted by 24 different firms. All this over a debt of £16k that was in fact owed by someone else!
Ms. Walker kept trying to explain to banks, credit card providers and phone companies that she was not the one to be contacted about this debt. But it did not make any difference as none of them believed her.
The reason why this whole mix-up happened was because the person who in reality owed the money had practically the same name, and even her date of birth was similar to Ms. Walker’s!
The torment began in 2010 when she received a letter from Santander stating that she owed £5,543. Ms. Walker went to the bank and told them that she had never had any dealings with Santander. However, they did not believe her. In time more letters started to arrive. These included letters from Nationwide, Halifax, Capital One and Lloyds. These were sent through debt collectors. And each and every time Ms. Walker would grab the phone and call them so as to explain that there must be a mistake as she did not owe any money.
There were days when she received not just one, but four letters. Ms. Walker even had to deal with bailiffs who threatened that money was going to be deducted from her salary, and that seizures were going to be made on her possessions if she did not pay. There was even one occasion when a bailiff put his mouth to her letterbox and started shouting that he knew she was in the house. One can only imagine how this affected Ms. Walker emotionally and psychologically. She was being bullied and continually hounded. She was failing credit checks and was stressed out with it all.
In November 2014 there was at least one firm that admitted that they had made a mistake. They were chasing her for a debt of £2,800 to Lloyds. This firm gave her a compensation of £500 to make up for their error. However, this was only one case as there were still 13 firms chasing her.
And the situation was bound to get worse because once she got a black mark on her credit file, through no fault of hers, she was basically a bad debtor. And only the company that made such an entry on her file could change it. So, in this case Ms. Walker was getting entries from all of these firms. It all seems to end up in a vicious cycle, and the victim cannot do much to prove her innocence. A similar case happened to Mr. Robert Webster who was harassed for a debt of £12k that he did not owe.
Luckily both of these cases have been resolved following the publication of the stories on Money Mail. However, the worrying trend is really upsetting because when one ends up in a situation such as this, it is as if there is no way to prove quickly and simply that there is a mistake. With one black mark on a credit file, one’s credit rating can be ruined for ages.