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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if you have checked your credit report to confirm Orange have not registered a default notice nor any adverse entries against your name please?
Not last time I checked there wasn't even a search from orange, only the other address listed as a linked address
Thanks. Have you dispute the linked address?
Thanks. Has this now been removed as a linked address?Do you have a note of your crime reference number from the police?
I do not know if it has been removed, but I do have a crime reference number from the police
Thanks. It is important your credit reference file does not contain any incorrect information as this can impact your credit profile. Accordingly consider rechecking that it has been removed and if not follow up the dispute with the three credit reference agencies. They are obliged to deal with any dispute you make as they have an obligation to ensure that the information they hold about you is correct. There is an easy way of doing this by using a service called www.creditexpert.co.uk/ which offer a free trial.
In terms of the debt collection agency that is chasing you..
Consider writing to them denying any liability for the debt and you have ascertained that you were the victim of identity fraud providing your crime reference number. Consider requiring them to cease and desist all further communications with you unless it is in respect of issuing proceedings in the county court for recovery of the debt which you can advise will be fully defended by you.
Consider advising them that you will consider any other communications besides the above to constitute harrassment and breaches of Section 1 & 2 - Malicious Communications Act 1988, s1 Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and that further communications will result in your considering a report to trading standards as to their conduct with a view to their reviewing their licences and also reserve your rights to seek civil injunctions and costs against them if they conduct continues
I have written to them denying liability for the debt and advising them I was a victim of identity fraud for someone to obtain a phone in my name, however orange advised the agency that I must have either updated my contract or allowed a third party to do so.
A debt collector may not chase you for a debt which you have denied liability for other than through the courts. Such behaviour is unlawful under the above legislation and can result in the above consequences for the agency. If they do not believe you after you have denied liability then their only choice is to issue proceedings in the county court which can be defended by you and based upon what you say you will be able to show that it was not you that incurred the charges. If they are unsuccessful that is an end to the matter though many agencies will not issue proceedings due to the costs involved for them unless they are very confident as to the outcome.
I am extremely worried that they will take me to court for this debt which is not mine and how I would go about defending myself.
If they take you to court, they must show on the balance of probability that you owe the debt. You would have a defence based upon what you say because the phone was dispatched to an address which you have no association with, you have a crime reference number and therefore did not receive service from the phone company. The debt collector would need to show how they claim you incurred the debt in those circumstances which would be difficult. You may wish to follow up with the police to ascertain the outcome of any investigation thought they may not have done anything further.
Typically agencies would not risk court where you have supplied evidence that suggests identity theft as they can be significantly out of pocket if they lose in terms of staff time preparing the case etc.
So do you suggest that I write one further letter stating that I have denied responsibility and suggest they write to the other address, would they mark a default on my credit file
I would consider a letter in the above terms mentioning that you will consider further communications to be unlawful under the above legislation and reserving your position regarding damages etc. This is normally sufficient to make the most aggressive debt collector back off because continuing to pursue you is genuinely unlawful and can threaten their licence. I would not mention the other address - how they choose to pursue the debt is up to them.
The debt collector cannot mark your credit file - only orange could do that and their entries would be subject to challenge as you did not have a credit agreement with them, but just PAYG. From what you say they have not done so and are unlikely to do so now.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
no that all thank you I feel a little better about the situation now
A pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.
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Thanks. It is important your credit reference file does not contain any incorrect information as this can impact your credit profile. Accordingly consider rechecking that it has been removed and if not follow up the dispute with the three credit reference agencies. They are obliged to deal with any dispute you make as they have an obligation to ensure that the information they hold about you is correct. There is an easy way of doing this by using a service called www.creditexpert