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Boggy68

DWP - overpaymet, demanding money already paid again

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Hello everyone, this is my first post! I am having a total nightmare with the DWP and I am hoping someone, anyone can help. I have read enough of this forum to know that Erica is a bit of a guru so fingers crossed she will look my way.

It is a little long winded and pretty complex, so bear with me if it seems I am going on a bit. I don’t think anyone can help without knowing all the details. I have done a fair amount of research already, so I know any debt with the DWP will have to be paid regardless of the limitation act. They have also politely informed me that they will simply wait for me to die and recover the debt from my estate if need be. They are very charming, don’t you think?

In 1995 I was in receipt of IS and started full time education as a student. I was a little naive and carried on claiming despite receiving a grant. I got caught and quite rightly had to pay it back, £657.64. They allowed me to pay back £10 a month and I paid this 3 months running. I am a decorator by trade so did some painting during the holidays so then paid off £300 in one go.

A good start, but then I moved and failed to tell them. I know, a bit stupid, but I was young and thought the problem would go away if I buried my head in the sand. Plus the stress of a decorator doing a degree made it very easy to forget. Fast forward to 2000 and I tried to get credit, but found I had a CCJ. The amount was much more than the £327 I owed and totalled £1,312. I can only assume that this was a combination of IS, HB and court costs, or just IS and court costs as the details are a little hazy. I do know that, that was the only debt I had. I had no credit cards, nor did I owe any other money. I paid off the debt and got a Certificate of Satisfaction. Two years later I bought a house and this CCJ came back to haunt me, I lost the original certificate and had to apply to the courts for another copy.

Fast forward to the present day, well 5-6 weeks ago and I get a letter from the DWP demanding payment for £327. I have told them I have paid this debt and they are just not interested. They have sent the usual letters demanding payment by such and such or they will pass on the debt to a third party. I have made them aware that I know they cannot take me to court. I have also requested a SAR, which they responded to, but they sent very little info. The info only covers up until the time I moved, though the SAP readouts they sent are very revealing. There are a further 14 letters mentioned in the SAP readout that I never received and also notes indicating that the debt be passed onto a 3rd party.

The problem I have is that the Certificate of Satisfaction reveals nothing. It does not mention who the creditor was, nor does the Claim Number reveal anything at the county courts. I can only assume that this is down to the 10 odd years that have passed since and the data protection act which is hindering my investigation. I am sending the SAR request form I found on this site again, as I know they have all the info I need to prove my innocence, but they are treating me like a dishonest lying toe rag.

I suppose what I need to know is,

· If they pass the debt on once again to a 3rd party, can they take me to court?

· Can I get another CCJ for this debt?

· How can I prove my innocence if they are so reluctant to help?

· How can I reduce the amount of grey this whole ordeal is causing me???

I know the debt is only £327 and I could pay it with little problem, but should I really have to pay the same debt twice? It took me 5 hours alone just to find that certificate of satisfaction and I have turned my loft and house upside down. I have spent hours on the internet and the phone and the whole ordeal is making me rather ill and obsessive.

 

Your advice would be whole heartedly welcomed...

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If they pass the debt on once again to a 3rd party, can they take me to court?

 

The limitation period has passed. They have 6 years to commence court action from the final decision made on the overpayment. 6 years have passed since the final decision. They may try to take you to court but they would need to be able to prove their claim. In civil court, the onus is on the claimant (in this case the DWP or the creditor) to prove to the court that the debt exists and is recoverable.

 

· Can I get another CCJ for this debt?

 

When someone wants a CCJ, they have to go to court to get it. The process involves sending you forms, which includes your right to file a defence. If you don't defend, the court can issue a default judgement, yes. If you defend, the court will consider all of the evidence from both you and them to decide if there is a debt to pay.

 

· How can I prove my innocence if they are so reluctant to help?

 

The onus is on them to prove you owe the debt. Any defence should include everything you have stated in your post. You have only ever had a debt to them, never owed other debts. You found a CCJ which you assumed included other costs added in addition to the original overpayment, you paid it and received a certificate of satisfation. You should provide a copy of the certificate (not the original except to produce in court if it ever comes to that though I doubt it will, it's not an impossibility)

 

If they don't take you to court and don't accept that this debt is paid, they will simply wait until you are on benefits (even State Retirement Pension) and make deductions from that, or make a claim from any estate might leave when you pass away.

 

Consider speaking to your MP. Tell him/her everything you have advised in your post, and ask him/her to make representations to DWP debt management on your behalf in regard to the matter.

  • Haha 1

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

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Many thanks for your help Erika, I want to rate you, but cannot see the star at the bottom of your message?

 

I hope you don't mind me asking for clarification on a few points.

 

They may try to take you to court but they would need to be able to prove their claim. In civil court, the onus is on the claimant (in this case the DWP or the creditor) to prove to the court that the debt exists and is recoverable.

 

When you say that the onus is on them, do you know how they actually do that? They don't use the original letter as proof do they? That's what they sent me when I asked for proof, but that doesn't prove that the debt hasn't been paid since.

 

 

If you defend, the court will consider all of the evidence from both you and them to decide if there is a debt to pay.

 

If I defend myself and lose, would I then recieve a CCJ and be liable for court costs? I know I have paid this debt, but my concern is actually proving it. I rang the courts and quoted the Claim number on the Certificate of Satisfaction and nothing came up. I think this may have something to do with the data protection act, but it is my understanding that legal people have access to such records for longer than the 6 year period?

 

As I previously said, it isn't the money, but the principle. It is not important to me that they write the debt off, but for them to somehow realise their mistake. In your honest opinion do you think it is possible that they have made a mistake, have you heard of this before? At times I have questioned my sanity, but I have friends and an ex partner who can actually remember me paying it.

 

I contacted the CAB and they sent me the following information. I thought I would post it in case it has some use on this site;

 

 

DWP guidance for decision makers states that recovery of a debt should be abandoned and the balance written off where the debt is:-

  • under £25; or
  • under £100 and at least six years have elapsed since the last repayment or deduction took place; or
  • under £300 and at least ten years have elapsed since the last repayment or deduction took place; or
  • over £300 and at least 20 years have elapsed since the last repayment or deduction or recovery took place.

This would suggest that they may even write the debt off eventually. Not that I want that, I want them to admit they made a mistake!

 

Thank you Erika, your advice has actually made a difference to my stress levels. :-D

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I've never actually attended a court hearing where they have tried to take the person for the debt so I'm afraid I can't give a straight answer to your questions. Showing the court a letter chasing the debt isn't evidence that the debt exists. All that shows is that they may have tried to contact you about the matter. They may produce it in court, but it's not evidence of debt.

 

They need to show something which on the balance of probability shows the debt exists and is repayable.

 

In regard to them winning the case, they may ask for you to be responsible for their costs if they win, but will they win, will they even take it to court? I don't know but I would think (hope) not. They have to weigh up the cost of the debt against the cost of taking you to court and them losing the case.

 

In my experience, yes I've heard of this happening before, and more than you would expect. Luckily each time I've come across it the person has been able to prove payment was made. There was one case where they woman was chased four times for the same overpayment which she had paid when it had arisen. After the first time she was chased, she requested a letter from DWP to confirm the debt had been paid, which they duly provided. Yet when she mentioned the letter each time after that, Debt management wouldn't believe it, until she actually sent them a copy. I think she ended up getting an ex-gratia payment for their continuous mistakes.

 

I'll ask if someone who is more familiar with CCJ's to respond here.


My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Many thanks for your help Erika, I want to rate you, but cannot see the star at the bottom of your message?

 

 

Have repped Erika for you :)

 

What are the chances that you paid this by cheque ? If so, perhaps a statement could confirm that you paid. You could write to your bank and ask them what the chances are of them having kept a copy of the cheque / statement.

 

The onus is on them to prove you owe money. The fact that you have a Certificate of Satisfaction might help, regardless that it doesnt show the creditor. They certainly wouldnt have issued one if you hadnt paid.


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