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NHS Bursary debt help needed


scatterheart
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Apologies, this is very VERY long but I've tried to cover all the background to it and everything that's happened to date. Thank you in advance for any advice.

 

In 2003 I began a midwifery diploma at university. Everything was ok for a year or so but then I started to become very unhappy on my course. I dreaded going in, but I kept at it cos I didn't want to leave half way through, I convinced myself everything was fine. In 2005 I ended up being off sick on and off and took one or two leave of absences, before everything came to a head. Towards the end of 2005 I became extremely depressed, I shut myself away, never left the house or answered my phone etc, just vanished from university. After a few weeks I got a letter from uni saying I had been "deemed withdrawn". I eventually sought help and was treated successfully by my GP, and I then contacted my tutor at uni to apologise and let her know what had happened with me.

 

I heard nothing more about it, but then around Christmas 2006 I got a letter from a company called ControlAccount, saying that as I had failed to respond to previous correspondence they were threatening proceedings against me. Apparently I owed the "NHS Business Services Authority" over £1600. This was the first I had heard of it, had no idea I was supposed to owe anyone anything, let alone what for, I'd never had any letters from the NHS.

 

At this time I was still heavily depressed and I admit to burying my head in the sand somewhat and ignoring the letters although I didn't throw them away I still have them all. I got a few more letters over the next few weeks, eventually I telephoned them in January (after a kick up the behind from my OH) and they said they would put my claim on hold and find out why I owed the NHS money and let me know.

 

I didn't hear anything for months again, then in May I got another letter from Controlaccount asking why I hadn't responded to their letters and again threatening action against me including bailiffs. Again I got in touch with them and told them I was still awaiting some kind of explanation as to who I owed and why, and said that there is no way I was handing over any money (even if I had it which I don't) without knowing why.

 

A few days later I got a scrappy little email with this, apparently copy and pasted from the NHS: "Balance is now £1300.19 following a reassessment. This student withdrew from training on **/**/05 (this is the official date as supplied by her university). Her payments continued until **/**/05. This resulted in an overpayment of 63 days or £982.97.

She then resumed on **/**/05 and withdrew again on **/**/05 (date supplied by her university). This resulted in an overpayment of 20 days or £317.22” (I've blanked out dates).

 

This is all I have to explain what I apparently owe. No letter from the NHS, no breakdown from Controlaccount, nothing at all. If this totals £1300 as stated above, why are they chasing me for over £1600? I've never been told this, and never been sent anything in writing to detail the debt.

 

I replied to this email asking for some kind of further detail as to breakdown of what I owe, what to do if I dispute the claim, and explaining that I was in a very poor financial position due to my depression and could not pay the money back. I also moved house in May so I included my new address for future correspondence. Do you think I heard anything? Course not. Not until a couple of weeks ago when a letter forwarded by my previous landlord arrived from Controlaccount, saying that they are sending someone to that address for "Dispute Resolution Attendance", and that they are taking me to court for still not responding to them.

 

I emailed them straight away (it was past their closing time and I can't phone first thing in the mornings I am at uni 9-5 every day, wanted them to see it asap so a debt collector didn't turn up at my old address!) pointing out that they had the wrong address, and that I had not received any correspondence from them whatsoever since my request for more detailed information. I had a short blunt email in response, basically it contained the same copy and paste as I posted above and said this contains all the information required, please contact to arrange payment. Oh and also the rudely worded comment that they had tried to contact me and that she didn't appreciate me implying in my letter that the fact this situation is taking a long time to be resolved is in any way down to them. I would have said that failing to respond to any of my requests for written information was down to them, but who am I...

This was followed by another letter giving me 14 days to pay or they are filing a Civil Claim. I have been to see the Student Welfare Adviser at my uni, she has taken on my case and is writing to both CA and NHS on my behalf to seek further information and then take things forward with me. I contacted CA to let them know that I am not ignoring the case and the Adviser will be contacting them. The response I got was "I can't talk to anyone else about your debt as the debt is in your name". I've signed a consent form giving the Adviser permission to handle my case, does this mean CA will have to deal with her? If not I really do not know what to do now.

My illness left me in a really bad financial state, I am now a student again doing a course I love but money is tight and I survive on my student loan, my overdraft, and uni bursaries due to low income. £1600 is an amount I have no hope of paying off anytime soon, I've just started an intensive 5 year course so income for the forseeable future is very low. At the time, I was getting into a right mess, going over my overdraft limit, not paying off my credit card, as I recovered I have managed to get myself stable now and thanks to help from my OH have managed to clear my CC debt.The most worrying thing is that I don't know how to dispute the claim. i appreciate the fact that it was probably my responsibility to let them know I had left. I just stopped going into uni and those months just feel like a blur to me, the uni will have decided the date I left and let them know. It was the whole nature of my illness that I didn't arrange anything, I hardly spoke to even my family let alone the NHS bursaries department.

 

I'm trying not to panic about this but it's getting ridiculous now :(

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I wish I could advise, but I'm not the best person to do that. All I can do is wish you luck, you've come to the best place to get help and encouragement.

 

I would advise though (and others will back me up on this) never talk to them on the phone. Demand that they put everything in writing! They make all kinds of threats of bailiffs etc on the phone that they can't back up, but if they put it in writing you have evidence. remember they can't just send bailiffs round.

 

Anyway, more specific advice is sure to follow. Good luck.

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Hi Scatterheart, just going to bump this up for you. Don't ever talk to these people on the phone as Fuzzgin says.

Just found the website - is this them?

Controlaccount plc

They're breaking a lot of OFT Guidelines I'm sure, by saying these things. Also I see they're a Member of the Credit Services Association (CSA), that has very clear Codes of Practice - the way they've behaved with you breaks many of those codes. More people will offer clearer advice on how to deal with them, and I'm sure it'll be okay, just don't get them on the phone! These DCAs are head-monsters. :evil:

We will not be intimidated.

'The pen is mightier than the sword'.

Petition to Outlaw Debt Sale and Purchase

- can't read/post much as eye strain's v.bad.

VIVA CAG!!! :)

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Thank you both :)

 

I have only spoken to them on the phone once, they seem to email me more than anything. I have kept them all, and have given my student adviser copies of all letters and emails. I'm just dreading them saying they won't deal with the adviser and going ahead with the Civil Claim in what is now 7 days :(

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Controlaccount have a lot to say for themselves. Check out their Company Profile page:

Controlaccount: Company Profile

If they're so well-trained, such 'mature, experienced and professional personnel' - then who's this on the phone to Scatterheart? What are they doing with sending 'scrappy little emails'? Unbelieveable.

SH, you need to communicate with them by letter. As you've given your Advisor your consent to deal with them, that's who they must contact, not you.

The CSA should seriously frown on this. They're breaking their Codes of Conduct and the OFT Guidelines. Your Student Welfare Advisor should be able to sort this out for you!

We will not be intimidated.

'The pen is mightier than the sword'.

Petition to Outlaw Debt Sale and Purchase

- can't read/post much as eye strain's v.bad.

VIVA CAG!!! :)

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SH - the OFT Debt Collections Guidelines are here:

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/business_leaflets/consumer_credit/oft664.pdf

The CSA's Code of Practice is here:

CSA Website

and also you should download this CSA PDF for your Advisor:

COLLECTIONS INDUSTRY MOVES TO SUPPORT DEBTORS WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS - PDF

 

:)

 

We will not be intimidated.

'The pen is mightier than the sword'.

Petition to Outlaw Debt Sale and Purchase

- can't read/post much as eye strain's v.bad.

VIVA CAG!!! :)

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Guest 10110001

Who is controlaccount? and do you have a contract with them that states you own them any money, and on what terms?

 

If they are a private debt collector, then you have no legal obligation to communicate with them. Their powers are limited to persuading you to pay - and they must get you to ADMIT the debt before they can act.

 

Is there a contract between you and thre NHS that makes you liable for the money that is claimed? what are the terms - briefly. I there is no contract then ask in writing on what basis their demand is being made.

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Moved to students forum.

HAVE YOU BEEN TREATED UNFAIRLY BY CREDITORS OR DCA's?

 

BEWARE OF CLAIMS MANAGEMENT COMPANIES OFFERING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS.

 

 

Please note opinions given by rory32 are offered informally as a lay-person in good faith based on personal experience. For legal advice, you must always consult a registered and insured lawyer.

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It seems like any other debt problem to me, SAR them (remember to enclose the cheque) there's a SAR template in the library for banks, customise it for your situation and send it off in the post, remember you want every scrap of info they have on your account. Recorded delivery would be good but proof of postage will do. They have 40 days from the day they recieve the SAR (2 days after posting you start counting) if they don't send you everything then you report to the information commisioner.

 

Meanwhile send a letter informing them that the debt is in dispute, make sure you write this in big letters at the top of your letter "I do not acknowledge any debt to your company". They can't demand payment while the debt is in dispute.

 

I don't think a CCA request will work here but ask in the SAR for a copy of your application and of the terms and conditions.

Any posts submitted here on the Consumer Action Group under the user name GlasweJen may not necessarily be the view of the poster, CAG or indeed any normal person.

 

I've become addicted to green blobs (I have 2 now) so feel free to tip my scales if I ever make sense.;-)

 

 

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I agree with Jen. SAR is the way to go. If you want some proforma letters, please post back here and I'll happily post them for you.

 

Main thing is - don't panic - you've taken the first step by posting here, now we can all help you sort this out at a rate you can afford.

 

xx

Any help and advice is offered in good faith, based solely on my own knowledge and on experience gathered from this site. I am not qualified to offer legal or financial advice, which you should seek from an expert before making any important decisions. My opinions are therefore offered without liability.

 

If I've been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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Thanks all for your advice. I don't want to be seen to be stepping on my Welfare Advisers toes, she has written to both the NHS and Controlaccount in the last few days requesting my case be put on hold and they send more information to her. I'm not sure if she will have done a formal SAR though.

 

Also, when you say that they can't demand payment while a debt is in dispute...

 

Meanwhile send a letter informing them that the debt is in dispute, make sure you write this in big letters at the top of your letter "I do not acknowledge any debt to your company". They can't demand payment while the debt is in dispute.

 

What would be classed as demanding payment? Simply the letters and emails telling me I must call within 14 days to make payment, or also the threat of the Civil Claim?

 

And who would I send an SAR to? CA or the NHS? CA are apparently "acting on behalf of their client the NHS" and seem to have no information on my bursary or the details surrounding the overpayment :|

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I agree with Jen. S.A.R - (Subject Access Request) is the way to go. If you want some proforma letters, please post back here and I'll happily post them for you.

 

Some letters would be really appreciated, thank you so much.

 

I'm trying not to let this get me down, but I'm having a bit of a bad time at the moment, my dad's been in hospital for a month, we lost my nan unexpectedly a few months ago just as I had come off my antidepressants, and I'm ill at the moment with kidney stones. Throwing myself into uni work is the one thing keeping me sane at the moment! :oops:

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I agree with rory, bursaries aren't credit agreements and you're unlikely to have ever recieved one if you're not a student.

 

The emails would be classed as demanding payment as would any phonecalls or letters. I'm not sure who you'd SAR but my guess is whoever is annoying you the most, presumably both companies have the same access to the same documents and the DCA will be able to get anything it needs from the NHS anyway.

Any posts submitted here on the Consumer Action Group under the user name GlasweJen may not necessarily be the view of the poster, CAG or indeed any normal person.

 

I've become addicted to green blobs (I have 2 now) so feel free to tip my scales if I ever make sense.;-)

 

 

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The emails would be classed as demanding payment as would any phonecalls or letters. I'm not sure who you'd S.A.R - (Subject Access Request) but my guess is whoever is annoying you the most, presumably both companies have the same access to the same documents and the DCA will be able to get anything it needs from the NHS anyway.

 

Thanks again. Seeing as I haven't ever heard anything from the NHS themselves they are not hassling me in the slightest, CA are the only ones I have ever heard from so I will perhaps S.A.R - (Subject Access Request) them.

 

If I write them this letter then saying that I do not acknowledge the debt and it is currently in dispute, will they not be allowed to make the Civil Claim against me and will they be aware of this or is there a piece of legislation I should refer to in particular?

 

Sorry for all my questions, I just want to make sure I get this right as every time I get in touch with them it seems to rile the woman who deals with my case, and rather than getting me more information from them all it seems to do is make her take the case to the next stage even faster :rolleyes: I feel like I was better off when I just ignored them, at least then I didn't hear anything for months at a time!

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I think you want to write something along the lines of

 

account number: ABC123

account holder: Mrs Anne Oyed

 

Dear [bloodsucker]

I do not acknowledge ANY debt to your company the alleged debt is in dispute until you comply with my Data Protection Act Subject Access Request, sent on [dd/mm/yyyy]to furnish me with the original agreement.

You are reminded that you were obliged to supply these documents, whether you are the original creditor or not, under section 189 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. [i think, not sure because it was a bursary but i'm sure someone will correct me if i'm wrong]

 

I will withold payment towards this alleged debt until you produce the agreement. If you persist on pursuing payment you will leave me no choice but to report this matter to Trading Standards

 

Yours Faithfully

[your name in block capitals - not a signature]

Any posts submitted here on the Consumer Action Group under the user name GlasweJen may not necessarily be the view of the poster, CAG or indeed any normal person.

 

I've become addicted to green blobs (I have 2 now) so feel free to tip my scales if I ever make sense.;-)

 

 

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Thank you again Jen, I will get an SAR sent off tomorrow and the send a letter as above to make sure they have it in writing that I am disputing the debt.

 

I am hoping that the SAR may shed some light on where the extra £300 has materialised from at least!

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After reading this thread I feel it would be best for now in the student forum. Deal with your Student Welfare Adviser at your uni, as she has taken on your case and is writing to both CA and NHS on your behalf to seek further information and then take things forward with you, they may be able to solve this without the need for you to get involved with the DCA personally apart from telling them you are in dispute.

As you were off with Depression and attended the doctors for this then would you not be able to get in writing why you were absent and forward this to the Special Factors Board, Academic advisor or your financial advisor in uni for consideration.

Special Factors Board are in Scottish Uni's but im sure you would have the same or equivalent, personally I feel you will be liable to pay this back as you were not in attendance but with the circumstances above maybe an agreement could be reached which would be suitable for both parties.

Sorry if this isnt what you want to hear and hope you get this resolved without any further stress.

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Moving this back to debt forum is suggested. The poster might be a student. The subject is debt.

 

Improper use of moderating feature.

 

The poster might be a student. The subject is a bursary or student loan etc so its shouting for the Student forum, but fair point as it may become best for debt forum if things dont get resolved at grass roots and without the need for DCA's.

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Thank you for considering the movement of the thread Bigmac, and for the advice :)

 

I have just drafted up an adapted SAR using parts of the template and snippets I have seen suggested in other peoples similar topics. How does this sound as the main body of the letter:

 

Please supply me with all information you may have registered about my accounts with your company and that of your client. In particular I request information which includes, but is not limited to, a true legible copy of the original application forms and a true legible copy of the actual executed agreements as well as statements of the accounts from the opening date of these accounts to the present date.

I require disclosure of any indication or notes which you hold and notes of all telephone calls made between me and your call centre staff both in the UK and any offshore operations either within Europe or elsewhere in the world. This data is to include all written, audio and electronic correspondence and data.

 

Additionally, where there has been any event in my account history over this period which has required manual intervention by any member of your staff, or any other person, I require disclosure of any indication or notes which have either caused or resulted in that manual intervention, or other evidence of that manual intervention in relation to my business with you.

If you are unable to supply this data because there has been no such manual intervention, then please be so kind as to confirm this in your response.

 

I enclose a postal order for the statutory maximum fee of £10. You have 40 days in which to comply.

 

If there is specific information which you require in order to satisfy yourself as to my identity, please let me know by return. However, please note that the above address is the one which you normally use to communicate my private business to me and which you have hitherto found to be acceptable.

 

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Any amendments or additions necessary? :)

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Sorry to hear about your hard times scatterhead. Just keep posting here and folk will help and support you.

 

And I agree with Rory. we can do debt advice here too, but it's a student issue, and a smaller forum, so your problems will be more likely to get attention than in a larger, more general forum.

Any help and advice is offered in good faith, based solely on my own knowledge and on experience gathered from this site. I am not qualified to offer legal or financial advice, which you should seek from an expert before making any important decisions. My opinions are therefore offered without liability.

 

If I've been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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