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harrassed by debt collectors for niece's debt

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Hello, Sharon here from Northamptonshire


Hopefully someone here can help with our situation, which is driving my family INSANE!!!


It's quite a saga, please do persevere with it.


So... my niece came over from Malaysia in '07 to attend a course at a local college. As part of her getting settled in we set up a mobile phone account for her with 3. The account was registered at my home address despite my niece never living here – she stayed in halls of residence.


I''m not sure of the exact timeline here but at some point in '08 my niece moved back to Malaysia and forgot to cancel her mobile account. Several months' worth of rental charges accumulated before she cancelled. At this point, on her instructions, I rang up 3, and was given a figure for the full settlement of the account, which was £95.41. This I paid on her behalf via cheque and my bank records show the cheque cleared the following week.


But then, in April 2009 a letter arrived for my neice from "Advanced Telecoms Debt Collection Services Limited" stating a balance of £29.36 was still due on the account and that they had been authorized by 3 to collect it. (I had been authorized by my neice to open her letters).


I didn't deal with this letter at the time because, yes, I do have a life apart from sorting out my niece's debts, and I simply forgot about it.


But then in May a more seriously worded letter arrived from BTO (Brechin Tindal Oatts solicitors, I believe) threatening legal action unless payment of the £29.36 was made immediately (the letter made clear that this amount would fully settle the debt). So I sent off a cheque for the £29.36 using the form provided with the letter.


Silly me, I have lost this letter. However, the cheque cleared on the 19th of May 09.


THEN, in the last week of May, BTO started phoning my home increasingly frequently, leaving messages asking to speak to my niece and to be called back on 08700503651.


I screen most of my landline calls anyway (crazy ex husband) and so let the answering machine pick up BTO's messages. However, I did speak to them once, letting them know my niece had never lived here and asking them to stop calling me. The conversation got a bit surreal and I hung up.


I should add at this point that I'm not in regular contact with my niece; she's very hard to get hold of and it's even harder to spur her into concrete decision-making...


Anyway, this month, BTO have started phoning several times a day (still asking for my niece). This evening my son could tolerate the backlog of their messages on our answering machine no longer and gave them a ring. A girl answered, he didn't get her name unfortunately.


He started by letting her know how sorry he was that her company was so retarded it couldn't retain the simple piece of information that their debtor does not reside at our address. Defensive bitching ensued...


Cut a long story short, BTO's position is:


1. My home address / telephone number comprise the only contact details the company have for my niece so they are going to bug us until (a) we give them our niece's contact details in Malaysia and they successfully contact her; or (b) we get our niece to ring them on 0044(0)1236575155. They were unmoved by my son's assertion that BTO were harrassing us and that we would be reporting them to trading standards.


2. My niece still has an outstanding debt. They would not disclose the remaining amount to us without a letter of authorization from my niece because of "data protection". However, they confirmed receipt of the payment of £29.36 last month. Interestingly, THERE HAVE BEEN NO FURTHER LETTERS FROM BTO SENT TO MY NIECE AT MY ADDRESS SINCE I PAID THE £29.36.


So guys, what would you do in this situation?? I don't want to help BTO in relation to contacting my niece, I just want them to stop calling me. If I give them my niece's number, they'll be as unsuccessful as me in getting hold of her and so will continue to bug me. Initial googling of BTO throws up some worrying evidence of their running phone line scams.


thanks in advance,


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sorry to hear you got mugged so to speak.

i'd fire off the telephone harassment letter or the deny any debt/doesn't lve here letter.

both of which can be found in the templates library or by using the search in the blue bar above.


oh and stop using the phone to talk to the jokers

do it in writing



please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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They can ask you to provide details but you don't have to give them & frankly in view of the way they have behaved I wouldn't - As for the rest send the letter as suggested SPECIAL delivery and DON'T talk on the phone unless you can record them & if you can, & although you don't have to, only tell them at the END of the call - being stupid it's usually then that they go nut's .............forgetting they are being recorded:D

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OK thanks a lot guys, I have followed your advice and the letter will go special delivery Monday morning. It would have gone today but hey ho, life distracted me. I'm also looking into getting a phone recorder


I made a mistake in my original post... the DCA in question are BPO Collections not BTO.


I managed to track down my niece via email... who explained she has actually HAS tried to call BPO from Malaysia (I gave her the info via her mum some time ago) but the number they provided didn't work. I checked this out and she's right... in fact now I go through my records, BPO keep leaving different numbers for her to call back on and all the numbers have stopped working except the latest one!!! Is this common DCA practice and if so why??


Although I am not the alleged debtor here, this experience has made me furious with DCAs and their methods. BPO KEEP phoning me despite my repeatedly explaining that their alleged debtor cannot be contacted here. Yesterday, I spoke to an especially idiotic fellow who breached Data Protection regulations by telling me (completely unprompted) my niece's account details includings a settlement amount!! (wish I had got that on tape) They are chasing a tiny little debt less than 20 quid. I may take this up as a hobby and actually devote myself to ensuring this horrible retarded company NEVER get their hands on my niece's money.


Is there anything else I can do at this stage besides sending that letter?? Is there anything I can do on my niece's behalf that will inconvenience them and cost them money? Can my niece CCA them from Malaysia or can I CCA them on her behalf?? Can we CCA at all given it's such a tiny debt?


Thanks so much for your help; I've been reading this site and it's inspirational, despite not being an alleged debtor myself I really want to support what's going on here.

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A CCA wouldn't be any use for a mobile phone contract.

If you want any information about the details they hold, she would have to send them a Subject Access Request (SAR) which would cost £10.


Personally, IMHO, I'd send them the telephone harassment letter along with the No debt is Acknowledged letter via recorded delivery, then ignore them.


For a piddly little amount like that, they will soon get bored and retreat into their murky little dungeon to play with themselves:eek:


3 are notoriously good at having absolutely no customer focused skills, so it doesn't surprise me that they have made money out of an unrecoverable debt, losers.:p


Whichever DCA has now bought the miserly debt, just ignore them, and only ring them after you have had a glass of wine and you want to irritate them for fun:D


DCA baiting is my new hobby, they don't like it up em you know!:D:D

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!



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Bazooka, DCA baiting's not fair... pick on someone your own (brain) size :p


Actually, having read some extremely entertaining threads on this site, I'm almost tempted to get myself into an alleged debt just for the sheer sport of it!!! Not at all to make light of people's difficulties, which I have huge sympathy for...


So, how does the below look? (Yes, I'm the kind of person who can't resist tweaking things and rabbiting on for ages)



Contingoland, UK


By Special Delivery 14th June 2009


BPO Collections Limited

5 Drum Mains Park



G68 9LD



Dear Sir/Madam






Re: Harassment by telephone

Telephone Number: 00000 000000


Reference Number: 00000000


This letter refers to the account referenced above, belonging to a [slightly irresponsible niece] WHO IS NOT ME AND WHO HAS NEVER RESIDED AT THIS ADDRESS.


Specifically, I am writing with regards to the quantity and frequency of telephone calls that I have received from your company, which I deem to be personally harassing. I have verbally requested that these calls stop on three separate occasions, yet I am still receiving calls.


As I have also explained to your callers on these three separate occasions, your alleged debtor has never lived at this address and cannot be contacted here. As I cannot reasonably be expected to act as your agent in this matter, I have absolutely no legal obligation to communicate with you further and I will not do so.


I now require all further communication from your company to this address to be made in writing only. However, letters addressed to [slightly irresponsible niece] will be returned to you as this is not her address, and letters addressed to me in relation to this matter will not be answered.


My legal advice is that your continued harassment of me by telephone puts you in breach of Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970, and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.


Furthermore, the OFT say that under the Guidance, it is unfair to pursue third parties for payment when they are not liable. Continuing to telephone my address when you are aware your alleged debtor does not reside here breaches this Guidance, as would writing to me in respect of this matter.


If you continue to harass me by telephone, you will also be in breach of the Communications Act (2003) s.127 and I will report you to OFCOM, Trading Standards and The Office of Fair Trading, meaning that you will be liable to a substantial fine.


Be advised that all further telephone calls from your company will be recorded.



In respect of the above violation and your generally illegal and immoral collection practices I have already contacted Trading Standards.


If your telephone calls do not cease forthwith, I will instruct my solicitor and pursue redress through the courts, and also lodge formal complains with the above listed regulatory bodies.


Yours faithfully,



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