An update since August.
I'm seeking advice on what to do next.
Approach the FCA?
Legal action via BCOBS?
My objective remains the same;
the removal of the default notice applied by HSBC after their incorrect assertion that a Default Notice had been issued
and their unfair treatment in offering me a clearly empty promise of the possibility to make an arrangement to pay.
In addition to this there are numerous inaccuracies in the dates associated with their issuing the default.
Having requested that my complaint was referred to an ombudsman I have just received the final decision.
Frustratingly , this didn't seem to even address some of the points I raised in my letter
to support the request that the complaint was looked at by an ombudsman (full letter further below).
Most confusingly the background section of the final decision document states
"Mr M says he was never sent a default notice; HSBC says he was."
This is confusing
as, to my knowledge, HSBC have never claimed they did ever send a Default Notice,
despite the Final Demand clearly stating one had been sent.
I asked the FOS to provide evidence of this and the following was their response,
which actually draws from another section of the Ombudsman's Final Decision.
"As you are aware from previous correspondence, we do not have a copy of the default notice.
This was made clear when I came to my formal view and also in the final decision where it is said
‘Mr M says he never received a default notice. I accept that’.
If there is any further information you would like,
you would have to contact HSBC directly".
I also got in touch with the Adjudicator (letter below) with regard to their comment during a phone call that I had
"taken HSBC's comments too literally"
the Adjudicator replied
"I appreciate that you feel that the default is not accurate or in fact fair,
and if I am honest I can understand why you feel this way.
However, this does not mean to say that HSBC was wrong to apply the default as it did.
You have said that you do not entirely agree with me when I have said you may have taken what HSBC said in its letter to literally.
First of all, please accept my apologies if this came across the wrong way
– I did not say this with the intent of causing offence, rather just my opinion on what I thought had happened."
I raised a Subject Access Request on FOS to get all of the information they'd received from HSBC
and as part of that I received a letter 0f 12 June 2015 from HSBC to the Financial Ombudsman which stated
"I am aware Mr M remains unhappy that a default has been registered with the Credit Reference Agencies (CRA's) in respect of his Current Account.
It is Mr M belief that we did not issue a Default Notice to him and as such, the default should be removed as it is a true and accurate record of his account conduct."
I'm not even sure what is meant by the second part of that sentence.
The letter goes on to state that "Mr M did not contact us until after the Final Demand was issued.
The repayment proposal was insufficient to prevent the account from being passed on to recovery services
as only full repayment of the outstanding balance within 18 days of the issuing of the Final Demand would suffice."
I have subsequently been in touch with HSBC to seek clarification of the issuing or otherwise of a Default Notice
and they have replied to state that as the case had been raised with the FOS and the Adjudicator had made their decision
they were not obliged to reply and would not do so and any further correspondence would be filed and not replied to.
I won't be accepting the Ombudsman's decision so now I'm now bound to that are HSBC obliged to respond to any requests for information?
Here's is my letter requesting that the case is reviewed by an Ombudsman which summarises the main issues I believe to be relevant.
Letter to FOS Adjudicator
I would like to request that my case is referred to an Ombudsman for further consideration please.
Your summary was that ;
"You have said you would like the default that HSBC applied removed from your credit file.
On review of everything provided to me, I cannot agree with you.
This is because there is a legal obligation for information that is reported to the credit reference agencies
to be a true and accurate reflection of the account.
In this case, the default has been applied correctly and I cannot require HSBC to remove it."
I would like to challenge this finding as I don't believe it is fair and reasonable that HSBC has registered a default with credit reference agencies against me for three reasons.
In addition to this, and based on the information HSBC has provided me,
what has been reported to credit reference agencies is inaccurate and is therefore not a true and accurate reflection of the account.
I would also like to highlight that during our conversation on the 20th June 2015 you stated that I had taken the communications from HSBC "too literally"
which I don't believe is a valid perspective when assessing the clarity of HSBC's communication with me
and fails to take into account the confusion created by the inaccuracies in their communications both in writing and verbally.
My reasons for requesting that my case is referred to an ombudsman are as follows.
Firstly, the Final Demand letter from HSBC referred to a Default Notice it appears was never sent.
This means the correspondence from HSBC that claims a Default Notice had been sent was incorrect and completely misleading
and was therefore problematic for my understanding of the process.
HSBC have subsequently been unable to provide any evidence of ever having issued the notice they said they had sent
but have instead claimed they have fulfilled their obligations under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
I believe they are also obliged to treat me reasonably and fairly and referring in writing to correspondence
they have not sent to me is misleading and therefore entirely unfair and unreasonable.
Secondly, the letter from HSBC of 22 May 2015 goes on to state that
"As the Final Demand letter had already been sent, only repayment of the full outstanding balance would have prevented the account from being passed to HRS
and a default from being registered with the CRA's."
However, as mentioned previously,
the Final Demand letter clearly states that
"If you do not make full payment or make a suitable arrangement with us...we may take additional action to recover this amount..."
and under the Help is available section
"If you are unable to pay the full amount at this time,
please call the above number and we will try and work with you to come to a suitable arrangement."
The only conclusion I can draw is the offer of help in coming to a suitable arrangement in the Final Demand letter was entirely disingenuous
and for the purposes of clear, unambiguous communication and fairness should not have been included.
I'd like to reiterate at this point that I called having read the letter in good faith and was denied an opportunity to come to an agreeable repayment plan
that HSBC's own correspondence offered. It now appears from their response of the 22 May that this was never a genuine opportunity.
As mentioned previously HSBC also declined my request to clarify this by email following the call.
I requested this as the advice given in the letter and the conversation differed so greatly and I was confused by the unclear explanation
of the process and the lack of transparency around the process.
HSBC stated during my call that my only option would be to wait for the account balance to be transferred to HSBC Repayment Services in 9 days time.
Against this timescale, this would presumably mean a default date of 15 October.
As the default was actually registered in retrospect on the 18 November why was the opportunity to honour the statements in HSBC's Final Demand
letter and arrange a payment plan denied so quickly?
Why also was my request to clarify the situation denied?
Thirdly I understand that Section 4 of The Information Commissioners Office "Data Protection Technical Guidance Filing defaults with credit reference agencies"
document states "It is an accepted industry standard to record only serious ‘defaults’ with credit reference agencies. "
Given the fact I made an attempt to come to an arrangement HSBC had offered but unreasonably denied,
and the default amount was comprised of approximately 70% fees
(an annual summary of account charges with a date of 02-Oct-2014 confirms
total fees and interest charged from 02 October 2013 to 01 October 2014 of £480.38
- a substantial proportion of the amount registered by HSBC as the default balance of £628.)
and all of the inconsistencies in HSBC's communication,
I don't consider this default to have been fairly applied in accordance with that guideline.
I'd like to reiterate the immense personal impact this situation has had on me as a 42 year old with aspirations to be a home owner
and with an otherwise excellent credit history and a long history with HSBC.
At my age a default recorded against my credit reference files will have a catastrophic impact upon my future
as this will effectively make home ownership of any sort impossible.
The action of registering a default against me which I sought to avoid by calling to discuss an acceptable repayment plan
is grossly at odds with HSBC's values and stated aim of being "Dependable, and doing the right thing".
The HSBC values state that "At HSBC we put great emphasis on our values. We want to ensure that our employees feel empowered to do the right thing "
Communicating openly, honestly and transparently, welcoming challenge, learning from mistakes
Listening, treating people fairly, being inclusive, valuing different perspectives
I feel strongly that HSBC have fallen short of their promise.
In addition to this, HSBC appear to have made numerous mistakes in a variety of the dates and details they have provided to me
and have not accurately recorded the default with the credit reference agencies.
I'm not at all clear on why the default date of 18 November 2014 has been used and retrospectively applied in March 2015 .
It appears that, despite HSBC twice confirming in writing the default had been applied in November 2014
no default was registered until after 31 March 2015 when the credit reference agencies were advised of the default.
I spoke with Experian on the 21 January 2015 and they confirmed a default had not been registered
and indeed no information had been received from HSBC at all.
This position only changed in my Experian credit file in April 2015
(Experian records mark the Default satisfied date as 31 March 2015 and that the records were updated 05 April 2015).
Had it been clear that a default was not to be registered for more than 4 months from the date HSBC said they had registered the default
I could have made mortgage or other credit applications without a default impacting on my chances of securing a mortgage or loan.
Neither, surely, does this achieve the stated aim of providing a "true reflection of how the account was maintained."
Particularly as HSBC has never registered any other details with the credit reference agencies since I became a customer in 1992
and the default details registered do not include any of my repayments.
If the account closure process of an account closing 180 days after it enters the collections process was applied,
that should mean the date that the account was in default should be 12 September 2014
(180 days after the stated date of entry into the collections process of 12 March 2014 - mentioned in HSBC's letter of 22 May 2015).
I therefore contest the accuracy of the date of the default and additionally the failure of HSBC to keep the default balance up to date.
No repayments appear in the credit reference agency reports and I understand from section 29 of the Information Commissioners Office's document
"Data Protection Technical Guidance Filing defaults with credit reference agencies" document that
"Default records should show the original amount of the default as a snapshot in time
and should reflect subsequent payments by showing the current balance of arrears..
. The current balance should be filed both by those who file monthly account information
and those who file only defaults. It should be updated regularly. "
In addition to this section 30
"When ‘in collection’ " states "Where debts are passed for collection to internal or external debt collection departments or agents,
the lender is responsible for keeping the record of the default and any outstanding balance accurate up to date. "
I also understand that the Data Protection Act 1998, in the data protection principles,
sets 'legally enforceable standards for organisations'. The principles require, among other things, that:
• personal data is processed fairly and lawfully;
• personal data is adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes of processing;
• personal data is accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date;
As already stated the personal data provided by HSBC to the credit reference agencies is not accurate.
There also appears to be a discrepancy with regard to the end date of my account.
My account end date is registered as 31 March 2015 with the credit reference agencies.
To this I'd like to reiterate that the letter from HSBC of the 22 December 2014 states
"I have looked carefully at our records and can see the Bank Account ending 3380 was closed on 18 November 2014..."
HSBC's letter of the 22 May states that the End Date was the date the final payment was made
but I actually called HSBC repayment services to make an early final payment of £28.25 on 02 Apr 2015
How can my account be closed both in November 2014 and in March 2015 and why was it closed before the final payment?
In addition to this the closure of my account has been registered with Equifax with no mention of a default
and consequently no change to my credit report which I believe to be vexatious.
In addition I certainly don't believe that HSBC have fulfilled your statement that
"information that is reported to the credit reference agencies to be a true and accurate reflection of the account."
I would like to reiterate my request that, for all of the reasons outlined above, the default is removed from my credit reference agency reports.
Thanks for reading and all advice greatly appreciated.