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Nicola-mod
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i have had a letter from DWP saying i owe £4013.87, this was

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i have had a letter from DWP saying i owe £4013.87, this was for something that happened 15 years ago, i was claiming benefit and had a cash in hand job. i was taken to court & had to pay it back which i did at £15 per week. then a few years ago i started getting these letters saying i still owe this. because of this it looks like i have a bad credit rating. i have phoned them but just don't get anywhere with them. then to top it all i have received a letter from tax credits saying i have a debt with them of £826.50, since at least 2012, the last time i had a claim with them was about 2003/4. these people are really getting me down i am a good payer and don't like debt and always pay for things when i get them. can you help. because it was such a long time ago i have no proof of me paying DWP the money back, but i know for a fact i paid it.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Do you have any evidence of payment?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jomo1972


no unfortunately it was that long ago, and i have moved a few times since then, so i no longer have the payment slips, sorry for the delay.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I am sorry for any delay you are experiencing. Unfortunately there are some bugs online and have been for a while. Its not something I have control over because the site is hosted in California and I am in London.

When you say taken to court, do you mean a civil or criminal court?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jomo1972 not sure criminal i think, sorry but don't know the difference. it was at the county court in kendal, cumbria, if that helps.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok. Thats all I need to know. Thanks. Thats a civil court.

Now, I presume you would have had to pay in instalments? This was a large sum of money.

I'm just trying to find a record or payment
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes i had to pay it back at £15 per week, and i also had to do community service. is this going to cost me anymore than the £33 i paid because i really can't afford to pay anymore than that. i'm divorced, and find it hard to make ends meet, i don't want to sound ungreatfull, and appreciate what you are doing, but i really do find things a struggle. sorry. and i can't understand why they are bringing this up after 15 years, can they do that.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes i had to pay it back at £15 per week, and i also had to do community service. is this going to cost me anymore than the £33 i paid because i really can't afford to pay anymore than that. i'm divorced, and find it hard to make ends meet, i don't want to sound ungreatfull, and appreciate what you are doing, but i really do find things a struggle. sorry. and i can't understand why they are bringing this up after 15 years, can they do that. sorry forgot to put, for jomo1972.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok. This is a criminal matter then.

If you were paying this at £15 a month then you wouldn't have cleared it all. Have you stopped paying? Do you remember when you last paid roughly?

No, this won't cost more than the sum you paid.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jomo1972, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX paid it back at £15 per week so that i could get it payed back quicker, my last payment would of been roughly 1998.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks

Surely you couldn't have paid it all off? £15 a week would be about £60 a month ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jomo1972, yes that's right, it did work out at 60 a month, but i used to go down to the county courts on burniside road, kendal weekly to pay the £15 per week, i was taken to court for this around 1990/ 91.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok. I see Whats happened.

If that hearing was in 2003-4 is it possible you were repaying until 2006-7? If so there might be a record?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jomo1972, no it was in the early 1990s, when i was taken to court for this, that's how long ago it was, and it would of been around 1997/98, when i made my final payment.it was at least 15 years ago, that's why i can't understand why they are sending me letters after all that time. Apparently they moved offices and some records were lost, so because they haven't got anything to say that i have paid it, it is there word against mine, but i know i paid it, but unfortunately i have no proof either, because it was such a long time ago, i would of kept them for a while, but when i have had a sort out when moving, i would of chucked them away thinking i wouldn't need to keep them anymore, after such a long time. but now i wish i had.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
They are sending letters because the DVLA are cracking down on stale debts now. They have run out of money and are frantically trying to recover anything that they can.

It sounds as though you were prosecuted and there was a compensation order. If that is right then you can get a memorandum of conviction from the courts. That will show the sentence that you received and it should show the compensation order. Obviously this is proceeding on the basis that records are properly kept.

That is worth doing because at least it will show that you have paid some of this.

The fact that the criminal courts imposed a compensation order upon you is not dispositive of the claim. They are entitled to sue you for any additional sum.

The fact of the delay acts against you but it also acts against them as well. Unfortunately this is Crown's debt and so it is not subject to limitation and they can recover from you despite the time delay. However, delay makes it more likely that they will have difficulty proving this.

The advantage of your situation is that they cannot prosecute you again and usually that is the sword of Damocles that they use to frighten people into repayment.

If you get the memorandum of conviction then that might deter them. If it does not then just refuse to pay and invite them to sue. If you are no longer on benefits then they cannot deduct from your benefits.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

for jom1972, thank you i will do that, and see what comes of it .

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No problem.

Please remember to rate my answer.

All the best.
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Just a quick reminder, there is an unrated answer waiting for you here from the Professional.

If the Expert was helpful, rating their answer as satisfactory transfers your deposit to them – this is how the Expert is compensated. If you still need help with your question, please feel free reply to the Expert on this question page. You may ask as many follow-up questions on the same question page as you need until you are satisfied.

Thank you,
Nicola

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