The quick answer to this question is yes, your creditors here in the UK can chase you and look to collect money that is owed to them, even though you may have moved outside the UK.
And this collection process can take on many aspects.
If you have left any assets behind in the UK, then your creditors here may try to go after those assets, and as we mentioned staying in contact can be important as well.
A spokesman for StepChange said,
“It depends on what the individual has told the creditors before leaving the UK. Are they trying to avoid the debt? Or are they being upfront and leaving a forwarding address? That is important, because if someone has just vanished and left no forwarding address, there is nothing to stop [the creditor] beginning a county court judgement (CCJ) at their last known address.”
“If the person still has assets in this country, the creditor could apply for a charging order which would secure the debt against a property in the UK. This can be done in their absence.”
The collection process continues even in absentia.
Not that being in contact may stop these proceedings, but you would have the knowledge of what is happening and be able to deal with them accordingly.
While your creditors here in the UK have authority to collect and handle the accounts here in the UK, their authority may be limited or non-existent outside the UK.
Some banks and collection agencies have “sister” or partner agencies and companies in other countries that they may use in the collection of an account.
This still brings up the legal issues of authority to collect an account from one country in another country.
My advice and opinion has been, try not to let it reach this level.
It may not be possible to do, but when accounts get transferred or “sold”, matters can take on a new degree of complexity.
Once again the fast and short answer here is yes. Debts do get bought and sold regularly.
A creditor/bank/lender may attempt to collect a debt from you or someone for a period of time, even though you may be living outside the UK. Again, the authority they may have may be limited as to what they can do to collect the account, but they can always try.
They may send post, emails, possibly even phone you, but to try and get you to hand over money from another country, they may not have the power to get you to do this.
As mentioned, if you have assets back in the UK, the creditor(s) may try to obtain a CCJ/County Court Judgment, and enforce it to collect the debt, or they may even attempt to make you bankrupt back in the UK.
If a creditor were to chose the option of making you bankrupt, they would pay the fees associated with the bankruptcy, and all your creditors or whom you owe would be included in the bankruptcy. Not just the creditor that made you bankrupt.
So what to do if you have a loan owed to you of say £3,000 and you cannot collect it….sell it to an agency that will then own the debt and try to collect it.
And that debt collection agency does not need to be based in the UK. They may be based in any part of the world, any country.
If a collection company buys a debt/account, they may pay pennies on the pound for the debt. They may purchase a £3,000 account for £1,000 or whatever amount.
They then own that account and debt, and you as a debtor now owe them money for the account. Which may have risen in it balance from £3,000 to a higher amount due to interest and charges.
And here is the tricky part that needs to be stated and remembered
If a collection agency buys a debt and they are based in another country, not only do they own the debt, but they can now collect the debt in accord with the rules and laws of that country.
An example may be you move from the UK to the USA, and leave £20,000 worth of unpaid accounts in the UK.
In time, some of these accounts are sold on to a collection agency based in the USA, where you now live.
The UK lender had no authority in the USA to collect the debts, but the collection company in the USA does have authority thee; so they can collect the debts from you in the US using the laws there.
If this makes you nervous, it should.
You may move from the UK to Australia, New Zealand, America, etc, anywhere, and the debt(s) could follow you.
However, you still have options as we will soon see.
One thing we should have realised by now is that moving to another town, city or even country, does not make our obligations go away.
There are things creditors can and cannot do to collect a debt, but many people think they first have to find me.
Not entirely correct.
As we have noted, you may live outside the UK, but proceedings against you to collect an account can very well stay here in the UK, and move forward without you being present.
Then of course there is the issue of the accounts being sold on to a collection agency in another country.
So how will I be found? How can my creditors and those I owe locate me???
Let’s just say they can.
The world has gotten smaller, and “skip tracing” someone has gotten more sophisticated, in part due to the Internet and social media.
Some collection agencies use social media to locate and collect accounts. And for some people, staying off of social media is near impossible. We use it as a communication tool to stay in contact with friends and family when we move away.
And collectors know this.
There are many ways collectors, or anyone for that matter may locate you. It can be as simple as a redirection on your post, to changing jobs and paying taxes, using credit and your credit history being updated.
There are ways to go “underground” and hide completely, but we re not underground animals, we are social beings, and not paying bills and accounts is not something to try to hide from to that extent.