Have you been the victim of a #bailiffblag
Debt advice charity the Money Advice Trust is launching a week long (Monday February 6th - Sunday February 12th) initiative to encourage consumers to stand up for their rights against bailiffs. The #bailiffblags hash tag is being used on Twitter to highlight the different techniques used by bailiffs to gain entry to a property. Once a bailiff has gained entry by peaceable means, they can return to take your goods and break in if you don't let them in.
In the UK today bailiffs are commonly used to collect council tax arrears or to enforce a court judgment. However they are also used to collect parking fines and penalties, tax debt, or child support arrears.
The Money Advice Trust is inviting consumers and advice agencies to share experiences of dealing with bailiffs who try to blag their way into a property. Some of the most common techniques witnessed by National Debtline, which is run by the Money Advice Trust are:
"Can I come in to use your toilet?"
"I'm from the local council, can I come in?"
"We have a warrant, so you have to let us in."
Joanna Elson OBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "The rules and regulations around bailiffs can be quite complicated and so it is not fair to expect your average person in the street to know all the specifics. However there are some rules of thumb that are very useful to be aware of, and one of those is to not let the bailiffs in your property. This means locking doors and windows, and not falling for some of these blags.
"The most important thing is to get some free advice immediately. Organisations like National Debtline and CCCS can talk you through your rights over the phone, even whilst the bailiff is waiting outside."
If you've been the victim of 'bailiff blagging' then please share your experiences with us by using the #bailiffblags hash tag on Twitter, or by emailing paul.crayston[at]moneyadvicetrust.org.
For more information follow National Debtline on Twitter (@natdebtline).
National Debtline top five tips for dealing with bailiffs:
1. If the bailiffs have not been into your home before to collect this debt, they have no right to come in. They cannot break in. You can choose not to let them in.
2. By law the police should not force you to allow a bailiff in. Bailiffs will sometimes call the police and ask them to force you to let them in, as many police are unaware of the complex laws and regulations involved.
3. Don't sign anything. If the bailiff leaves papers for you to sign and return, you do not have to do this. You don't have to sign agreements posted through your door either.
4. Except in rent arrears cases, bailiffs cannot take goods which are rented or hired or that belong entirely to someone else. This includes goods on hire purchase agreements.
5. Contact National Debtline for advice.
As mentioned above, the rules and regulations around bailiffs are extremely complicated, and there are in fact some circumstances where bailiffs are allowed to force entry as a measure of last resort - this is for debts such as Income Tax, or VAT. However, this power is only used in practice on extremely rare occasions for income tax or VAT debts.