A reader asked:
I had an old credit card debt from Vanquis, the last payment was made in 2018. It dropped off my credit file last week. I have just received a letter from Lowell saying they have bought the debt and have to contact them.
Will I have to pay, just as I thought I was getting out of the woods with old debt? If I do, will it reappear on my credit file?
At the time I was in a terrible situation with a gambling problem and had other debts that I was hoping I would never hear from again that I haven’t heard anything from as yet, fingers crossed.
The simple answers are:
Yes, you have to make a payment arrangement in this situation.
But No, this won’t cause the debt to reappear on your credit report and harm your credit score. When a debt has dropped off 6 years after the default date, it will never reappear.
Old debts can still be enforceable in court
You may be hoping this debt is too old to be enforceable in court. But it isn’t the age of the debt that matters here. The problem is that you were making payments up to 2018 – and something doesn’t become statute-barred until at least 6 years after your stop paying.
A debt that is no longer on your credit record is still usually enforceable in court if you have made payments in the last 6 years so you could get a CCJ if you ignore the debt collector and don’t set up a payment arrangement. That would wreck your credit score for another 6 years. See Debts that are no longer on your credit record for more about this.
But not always…
I said “usually”… there is an exception here if the debt collector can’t produce the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) agreement for the debt.
Asking for the CCA agreement only applies to loans, credit cards and catalogues. Not to overdrafts or utility bills.
So this is relevant for your Vanquis debt. If Lowell can’t produce the CCA agreement when you so them, the debt is not enforceable in court and you don’t need to pay them.
Read Why, when and how to ask for the CCA agreement for a debt for more about this as there is some specific wording you should use and you need to send a payment of £1 when you make this enquiry.
Was the Vanquis debt affordable?
In your case, there could be another possible route that may help.
Did Vanquis increase your credit limit too high when you were already in a mess and only making minimum monthly payments?
If they did, then you may be able to win an affordability complaint against Vanquis. See How to ask for a refund from credit cards and catalogues for more about these complaints, with a template letter you can use.
Only making minimum payments for a long period is one sign of problems. Another is gambling. You can’t use a credit card for gambling anymore, but back in 2018 you could. If you had used the Vanquis card for gambling, then Vanquis should have seen those transactions and not offered you any credit increases.
As you had other debt problems at that time, I think you should look now at whether you can make any affordability complaints about each of them.
It is going to be several more years before these debts become statute barred if you last made a payment in 2018. Crossing your fingers and hoping for this is not a good plan – you may be contacted by a lot more debt collectors over the next couple of years
See Affordability refunds for a list of my articles about different types of credit – not just credit cards but loans and overdrafts as well. There is also an article there that looks at the role of gambling in these complaints.
If a lender rejects your complaint, you can send the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman. This can be slow, so it’s best to start these complaints as soon as possible, not wait until you are being threatened with court.