In April 2009 I took out a pay day loan of just £200 with a company named Toothfairy Finance. Shortly there after I was laid off my job and subsequently had to give up my expiring mobile phone contract alongside other luxuries. Toothfairy do not have a scheme whereby they take the money from your account, instead you to repay the money using their account details which are hidden somewhere in the FAQs on their site, and not to be found anywhere else.
Because their principle method of communication is SMS, and I had given up the phone number, I heard nothing from them for well over two months, despite my emails to them. Eventually I received and email with three attachments of one letter that they had posted to three addresses.
One of the addresses the letter has been sent to was an address that I had not lived at for four years, an address I had not shared with them and thus and address that they had found by some other means and saw fit to claim I may live at. The following is the letter I received from them:
"We have made a number of attempts to contact you by email and SMS to discuss the outstanding balance on the short-term loan you took out on the 08/04/09 and you have made no effort to return these enquiries.
As we make clear to all our customers our product is intended as a short term financial solution. If the loan is extended this product can become expensive.
As we have not heard from you and not received payment we have been left with no alternative and are writing to advise you that this debt will be passed on to our Debt Collections Team in the next 24 hours.
As per the terms of the contract between Toothfairy Finance and yourself (see www.toothfairyfinance.com/terms.html ) instructing the Debt Collections Team will add a further £150 to the balance you owe. Debt recovery agents will call at all the addresses we have on file for you until they are able to successfully collect the sums you owe. If our debt recovery agents, after a reasonable attempt at the addresses on file cannot successfully recover the monies owed by you, we will issue a claim against you in the County Court for the outstanding balance plus the further charges and recovery costs that have been incurred.
You should be aware that a County Court Judgement against your name will remain for 6 years on the national credit records accessed by employers, insurers and banks and may result in-
a) difficulties in obtaining future credit
b) difficulties in obtaining a mortgage
c) being questioned at a County Court as to your financial circumstances
d) any current employers being informed so an application against your earnings can be issued
e) difficulty in securing future employment due to an adverse credit history and credit score
a) a Warrant of Execution and bailiffs being instructed
We will apply for the Warrant of Execution and a Bailiff order to seize goods from your addresses to be issued simultaneously to the County Court Judgement. This Warrant authorises Certificated Bailiffs to seize goods at the addresses held on file for you (including what may be your family home). These goods will be taken and put up for sale at public auction until the total amount you owe is satisfied.
The initial cost of issuing a County Court Judgement is £45, this will be charged to your account on the date of issue.
The further court costs including solicitors time, application for a Warrant of Execution and the appointment of Bailiffs will also be added to what you owe.
As you can see this will ultimately cost you a great deal more if you do not deal with this matter now. It will also cause you great deal difficulty for many years to come
We strongly recommend that you settle this amount immediately to limit further costs, preserve your credit rating and your ability to gain full time employment.
If you ignore this and our Debt Recovery Team, it will be a short matter of time before the CCJ is issued and Bailiffs are instructed to seize goods.
We look forward to hearing from you confirming a speedy resolution of this matter
Sales Team Tooth Fairy Finance Ltd (JT)"
Despite their claims, this was in fact the first I had heard from them. In the letter they state that they can call at all addresses (even the ones I don't live at!?) and take goods worth 9 times what I owe in debt. Is this right?
At this point I wrote back to them offering to settle with them at £380, requesting they freeze all further interest and charges and come up with a payment plan if possible. I also gave them my new phone number in this letter. I received no reply, or even acknowledgement that the letter had been received.
I then received this in the July of 2009 to my inbox.
"PLEASE BE WARNED
1.Northern Debt Recovery Enforcement (debt collection specialists) have now been passed your file to recover your debt. They are about to visit you at ALL addresses we have on file for you. They will be looking to take payment for the balance that you owe. This will include Legal fees, Recovery fees and Full Interest. They will keep visiting until payments are received.
2.Edwards Abrams Doherty Solicitors are in the process of successfully obtaining a County Court Judgement against you. This will be followed by Certified Court Bailiffs visiting to seize goods at EVERY address you submitted. This may include your family homes. You will receive correspondence from them and the County Courts at all these addresses. Please note that Bailiffs will seize goods at 9 times the value of what you owe (including court fees). These goods will then be sold at public auction to pay off your debts.
3.We are about to send your file including details of missed payments to the Credit Reference Agencies. This will be a permanent addition to your credit file and will make it very difficult for you to obtain ANY credit in the future.
4.Please also note that the amount you now owe will allow us to start Bankruptcy proceedings. Should the above prove unsuccessful we will not hesitate to start proceedings to make you Bankrupt.
We will not go away until the debt has been paid, failing to act will only lead to the debt getting bigger. Please contact us immediately."
The title of this email was "Bailiffs to visit, debt is passed on" Which would be to assume they had already taken out a CCJ against me, would it not?
I phoned Toothfairy Finance at this point and spoke to a gentleman named Paul who instead of offering a payment plan or discussing the matter of my being indebted to them, threatened me with the police for giving "false numbers" telling me that they were charging me with fraud and there was a "possible" warrant for my arrest, informed me that a CCJ has already been secured against me (although I had received no Claim Form, or notification of a Default Judgement) and that they were filing for my bankruptcy. Is that even possible?
I wasn't too scared, I had googled them, and it appears that Toothfairy are renowned for ignoring attempts to settle up so they may triple the debt and for telling threatening lies.
I began emailing them daily, requesting updates on my file and breakdowns of charges. Obviously they didn't reply. Eventually they responded to these two lines
"Are you receiving my emails? Would you be so kind as to confirm for my records that you: are receiving my communications; and that you have passed my file along to debt recovery agents."
At which point I received:
"We are receiving your emails
Your file has not currently been passed to our collection partner."
And nothing else.
2 days ago, I received another email again with three attachments of letters they have once again sent to all three addresses, this time from NDR, Northern Debt Recovery
I received the letter itself yesterday. It reads:
"We have been passed your file by our client CIM Technologies Ltd t/a Toothfairy Finance. You took a loan with them on 08 April 2009. They have made numerous attempts to contact you to arrange repayment and have offered to put you on a more flexible and affordable payment plan. As you have ignored all calls, emails, letters and sms your file has now been passed on to ourselves as well as solicitors Edwards Abrams Doherty.
If you ignore this letter and do not make contact within 5 working days on 0844 736 5344 we will be left no option but to send our Recovery Agents to all addresses we have for you in order to obtain payment. Should this also prove unsuccessful we will be liaising with Edwards Abrams Doherty Solicitors who are in the process of obtaining a County Court Judgement against you. Once this is secured we will return with a Warrant of Execution from the County Court and certified Court Bailiffs to seize goods at 9 times the value of what you owe.
Legal and Recovery fees have been added to your file. Below is a breakdown of what you owe
Loan and Interest £488
Legal Fees £150
These fees may be reduced if contact is made immediately.
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU CALL US IMMEDIATELY ON 0844 736 5344. We can in certain circumstances put you on a more affordable payment plan but this requires your cooperation. This will freeze the interest and allow you to repay the balance over a more convenient period of time.
We, in conjunction with the Solicitors and the County Court will be pursuing you for the monies that you owe. This debt will only increase the longer you ignore it as interest will carry on accruing and Court fees and Bailiff fees will ultimately be added.
If we do not hear from you within 5 working days you will be visited at all addresses by one of our agents. To stop this please call us today on 0844 735 344.
Obviously at this point I made immediate contact with Mr Chappelle who came to an agreement with me that I would make a goodwill payment of £100 now and then smaller payments of £25 a week, totalling £100 a month thereafter and that all charges would be frozen.
Since I did not have this in writing I sent both Toothfairy and NDR the same email, offering my apologies that it had come so far and asking for clarification and received this back:
"We have already agreed a payment plan with you. £100 this Thursday then a weekly payment until you can clear the balance. Please also note that you have passed FAULSE numbers to our client and if we suspect fraud we will take your file to the police."
The obvious spelling mistake was his and not mine.
Toothfairy sent me the following:
"We understand that you are in a payment plan with NDRE. AS long as you keep to
this we will not be securing a CCJ against you and we will keep your file
frozen. Please deal with NDRE from now on."
Ok, so now that you know the story I am looking for some advice and answers.
In the most recent letter received by post, NDR told me that some of the applied fees may be reduced if I contacted them immediately; which I did. However, in the phone call when I mentioned it they disagreed that they should remove the legal fees, (despite them not pursuing a CCJ) because they had to pay for the phone call and postage to get in touch with their solicitors, Edwards Abrahams Doherty. Should I continue to contest this? £200 is a lot of money for a phone call and a postage stamp...
Furthermore, both Toothfairy and NDR have threatened me repeatedly with taking goods from all addresses they have on file for me, but I only actually live at one of them! Can they do this? I have family living at one address, with whom I am actually ex communicated, so that would not make things any better!
They also continue to threaten to take goods in value of 9 times what I actually owe. This is almost £10K!!! Surely they cannot do this?? I do not have any property or land. I do not even have goods worth the £838 I owe, unless they take everything, the very clothes from my back and the metal in my fillings! The carpet in my house doesn't even belong to me! Surely this too is not right? They can't take nine times what I owe? Can they? As far as I know, they actually can't force entry into my home (or homes, apparently) can they? It's really worrying!
I have also asked them 4 times to remove from file the address they acquired without my permission. They have continuously ignored my requests and continue to send threatening notices there. Is this legal?
In the first letter they sent me they told me employers may credit check me and chose not to employ me based on this? Again, is this actually true?
Just finally, I have paper evidence to show that the number I provided them with DID exist at the time I applied, and it was registered to my name. Do they then really have a case for fraud?
I think that is everything I had to ask. Please help me out, I am skint, scared and confused!
Many thanks for reading my essay,