back to article Data Protection the DVLA Way

Don’t mess with the DVLA, or bad things might happen to your data. At least, that is the experience of Register reader, James Collins, who has been at odds with the DVLA for the best part of a year over what he believes to be serious inadequacies in its handling of penalty notices. Let’s park that issue for now. After a year of …

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Flame

Debt collection agencies...

....will do whatever they want, they are virtually lawless.

I'd been out of the country for many years and one bank was chasing a disputed debt. I got back to the country, moved into a new house (rented) and within a week had a letter from this debt collection agency. I hadn't told anyone, not even the DVLA. The only thing I'd arranged up to that point was Council Tax and maybe my bank. Hadn't registered for voting, hadn't got electricity and gas signed over, hadn't sent my driving licence off, no TV licence,etc, absolutely nothing. Debt collection agencies have their ways and means. I asked them point blank where they got my address from and they said they couldn't divulge that information so I said, have you heard about the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information act? I asked for full disclosure of all information they had on me and even sent a small fee I seem to remember. Did I get a result? Did I fuck? And who do you go to to complain? The Data Protection People? Don't make me laugh. It's a sham, an utter sham, the whole business.

Burn 'em - burn 'em all!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Moorcroft

There's more chance of Amy Whinehouse quitting drugs than there is of Mr Collins getting Moorcroft off his back. A quick SOTFW will show countless cases of underhand and frankly illegal practices commited by that organisation.

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Moorcroft debt recovery

I had Moorcroft debt recovery chase me for an unpaid electricity bill. I had moved house, and the letter reached me via Royal Mail's letter redirection scheme. It being a valid debt, I called them to pay up.

I informed them that I had moved house and that they didn't have my current address. When I was asked to give them my new address, I told the operative that I now lived at 123 Fake Street, postcode PI55 0FF. She challenged me on this, but I insisted that this was my new address. She refused to take payment, informing me that she was unable to do so unless I gave them my real address.

I told her that Woolies didn't need to know my address to take a payment on my debit card, so Moorcroft bloody well didn't either. A brief chat to her supervisor later they grudgingly took my payment.

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Coat

Moorcroft ..

You don't want to get on the wrong end of them. I had a 'run-in' with BT, who passed the debt to Moorcroft, despite having told me that they had cancelled the debt. Not pleasant.

It makes you wonder who would would want to work in a place like that, and if the rest of the staff are there on sufferance because it's all they can get, no wonder the business is so crap. They reduced an ex of mine to tears once, over a debt that had already been paid.

One of my small pleasures in life is knowing that I once got a debt collector (not from Moorcrofts, sadly) fired, because he phoned my house one afternoon and discussed the full details of my apparent inabilities to pay my bills with our cleaning lady!

B**tards, the lot of 'em.

*Mines the one with the CCJ's tucked in the pocket.

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Heh

"and demanding to see our bona fides before they would deal with us at all."

Ask them for their date of birth before you can talk to THEM.

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so, fast forward.....

to the National Identity Register and the government selling all that loverly data to whomever will pay for it.

Worried now? You should be.

What goes on with DVLA pimping your details will just be amplified a hundred-fold

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder if his call records are handed over

Suppose nut job Jacqui gets here way and there is a central database of all calls made, to whom and where you were when they were made. .... And a central database of all emails sent and received and IP addresses of where they went from and to....etc. etc.

Now suppose the DVLA or IR or any other government agency wants to levy a fine. Do you think nutjob Jacqui would allow them access to that data just to collect the fine easier?

I reckon she would. I reckon she wouldn't think twice about say, the Inland Revenue harrassing family members to extract some fine from a person, or debt collectors doorstepping a persons employer to convince them to pay the money over.

Yeh, I reckon nutjob would see no problem with that.

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Gates Horns

Debt Recovery Agencies require a licence to operate...

So who regulates them? If they operate in contravention of their licence then it should be revoked - but it won't cos they provide a necessary public service.....

BG 'cos it's Halloween.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't blame the DVLA

Debt collection agencies are well know for being extraordinarilly dodgy when it comes to the aquisition and use of personal data. In my experience the data mysteriously disappears from their systems as soon as you challenge them. In my case denied that they have ever held that information even when the man making the denials was standing on my doorstep at the time.

Basically they were chasing somebody who'd given a false address and were going to everybody in a wide area with the same name and other similarities in their personal details (age group etc.). So how did they trace all the people in the area with the same name without breaking data protection laws?

The best bit was that neither they nor the well known electrical retailer who had employed them had the nouse to think that maybe the name and ID provided were also false. They also slapped a bad credit rating report on each and every one of the people they targetted. The debt collection agency blamed their employer and the retailler blamed the agency. Amazingly however the bad credit ratings disappeared once legal action was mentioned.

Credit ratings in themselves are interesting when it comes to DP. You get a bad rating on your record and according to Experian it's up to you to prove that it's incorrect. They claim that neither they nor the company who made the report have to provide any proof.

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Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Its well known......

that the DVLA will sell your details to anyone who asks. Dodgy wheel-clampers, debt collectors, all borderline criminals.

Anyone here under any illusions as to what will happen to your (much more sensitive) data on the NIR and the lowlifes they will sell it to?

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Silver badge

simple solution

Small calims court. It is a wonderful tool. I took both british gas and an accountancy firm to small claims for leaking my information when they shouldnt. Regulatory commission did nothing and neither turned up at court. Got me £100 each. Nice earner.

The best part is, if they do it again then I can cash in again and again...

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Dan
Flame

Usual stuff

As bad as this is, it really isn't uncommon. My missus got calls to her mobile that went 'please provide your name, address and date of birth' Er, no. Who are you? 'I can only tell you that once you confirm your identity'. We simply refused to speak with them until they identified themselves. It turns out that British Gas (yes, that beacon of good practice) had incorrectly passed a (non)-debt to a recovery agency. The only answer is not to be intimidated, and once you get written confirmation of your innocence, keep it handy for when the whole thing starts again.

Flames cos I'd happily set fire to the feckers behind this stuff...

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IT Angle

Debt collectors

My advice is to simply ignore them. Get caller ID and shred the letters. If you do actually owe the money then pay it (to the company you owe the money to and not the debt collection agency) and if you can't (and have assets worth less than £3k) then go bankrupt. Do not enter into any dialogue whatsoever with Debt Collectors - it will save you a hell of a lot of grief. Oh, and if a doorstep collection agent turns up just politely tell them you won't discuss it. They have no power whatsoever.

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Thumb Down

Yours for £2.50

As reported here http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/02/dvla_data_sharing/ the DVLA will sell your data to anyone for £2.50, actively encourage all sorts of parking fine scams and worse. So if you owe them money do your really think they wont had over every last scrap of data on you to the thugs that will come round to take away your telly?

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Have your day in court

They'll never go that far in my experience. Invariably a letter stating why I won't be paying sent back to the Debt Collectors has stopped the whole thing in its tracks.

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Thumb Up

An easy way to get rid of them...

I replied to one of the debt collection companies with a letter outlining why they were in the wrong, giving them 14 days to respond and stating that the I would consider the matter closed should they not respond in this time frame. I also included an invoice for my time and materials and stated that I would be charging them £30 for every letter that I had to send them. I also pointed out that if they replied to any of my letters I would take this as an agreement that they were happy to pay my fees.

After the third unpaid invoice had gone unpaid, I threatened them with Legal action for non-payment and they left me well alone.

Moral of the story: Start invoicing and chasing them for payment and see how quickly they back down...

/me has just thought - maybe I could hire them to chase themselves for the debt they owe me...

IT'S FRIDAY!!!! :o)

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Stop

Worse still

I know that some organisations don't look at debt per se, but rather uncleared invoices. I've been rung up several times by companies saying that I have an outstanding invoice. I then said, what's the balance on the account. Zero I am told. It's just that their accounting system hasn't allocated the funds to the invoice.

I used to work for a company that worked in this way. It used a dailer. Yes, a computer rings up a customer, the screen is populated and you see that they have no debt and you try to explain away the call. All driven by a failure to clear invoices properly.

The real question is whether the DVLA give Moorcroft direct access to their systems?

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Alert

Reminds me of a spat I had with Ebay

Sounds very similar to when a debt collection agency called me up on my mobile number, asked for me by name, and then asked me for my date of birth. Cant remember whether its the same company as this chap.

All to do with a disputed Ebay listings fee bill.

I just told them politely that they have no rights holding my personal information, and less rights asking me for my DoB, stating that absolutely anybody could ring up and ask for that, and if I were to provide it, I could be furnishing phishers with more info about me. "But its from Ebay." they said. I then asked them to prove that they weren't phishers operating off Ebay, and they couldn't.

I then pressed them on the matter of how they got hold of what personal information they had on me. When the operator and I got into a circular argument, I just hung up. No one ever turned up at my house.

I got about five phone calls in the end, the matter was then settled with Ebay and I never heard from the agency again.

The Advice from above commenters is correct - do NOT deal with the agency, dont reveal anything to them, deal only with the original complainant (if thats a real word). For starters Ebay is, quite possibly illegally, passing personal information about its customers between companies, when that company has your info, they then could do anything with it, including selling it. Its unregulated and dangerous.

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Anonymous Coward

How to circumvent debt recovery action

My advice is, don't get into any telephone conversations on debt matters with debt collection agencies, you might give them some personal information which you later regret.

Let them send you a letter with their demands in and then respond back in writing. Ask them to prove to you the claim for the money is valid ( because they will have to do precisely that if the issue goes to court)

Debt collection agencies by their very nature rely on intimidation tactics to get you to pay up.

They can not force you to pay up, they can only then take the matter to a small claims court, and even then if you really want to resist you can.

I had a dodgy tenant who owed me rent and he fought the court case for a year without presenting any evidence, I eventually won the case against him, but he simply returned the letters from the court unopened, and the court said to me "the order to pay you, has been returned unopened, it has not been served, there is no further action that can be taken".

And the bast**rd got away without paying me a penny.

There is nothing the courts can do. Don't open the letters from the court, return them back to the court unopened. If you open them, the order is deemed to have been served.

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Unhappy

Debt collection feckers

I had a demand for payment sent to my house for someone with a similar surname and different date of birth for £1500 from American Express. After calling the company back and sending them a photocopy of my drivers license they left me alone.

Then it happened again a few months later from a different company...

Then again a few months later...

Finally I wrote "not at this address" on any letters with my name misspelt and sent them back.

Job done! I thought until I tried to get a mobile phone contract. They blacklisted my credit for my correctly spelt name and address! After getting Experion reports I was told that the original guy lived near my area and they had found my name and address after a search despite most of it being wrong and tried to tap me for the money. Eventually I had to contact American Express and get them to sort it out. Bastards!

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@ Thomas Baker

Once you have given the council your details, it is available to a wide range of public and private bodies.

My local council passes out information on council tax payers to everyone from HMRC to the electoral register.

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Paris Hilton

Ask them for proof

Next time I get some-one calling me, and asking me to prove who I am I'll be turning the tables. Unless they prove who they are first, then they can go swing.

PH, because she always gets DNA proof!

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Moorcroft (and their likes) aren't to blame

It's the companies that use them, I had a Virgin credit card, missed one £5 payment (completely forgot, my fault) and within 4 weeks a debt collection agency was contacting me, no reminder from Virgin, for £5! I'll never use them again, without people like Virgin you wouldn't have people like Moorcroft.

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@AC

"Let them send you a letter with their demands in and then respond back in writing. Ask them to prove to you the claim for the money is valid ( because they will have to do precisely that if the issue goes to court)"

Correct. I've done this twice now. You get shirty letters and I just said "please prove that I owe money to the claimant". Until a court case had proven I owed the money (I didn't) I don't own squat.

My dad had watched TV and "seen" debt collection agencies breaking in while out and taking stuff. What they missed out in this "informational broadcast" is that the debtor had allowed them in to the premises beforehand. Don't. They go away if you don't pay up there and break in. The law allows them to do that, but only if they have previously been allowed in.

Keep them on the doorstep and ask that they prove the debt.

They never can.

Such debt can only be proven and levied by court and by selling the debt on to the debt collection agency, they lose standing for that case. So they cannot prove debt.

What they can do is intimidate you into paying or by finessing the law (which you don't know about, 'cos all the ToS and so on have excruciating detail on what THEIR rights are but you just get "this does not affect your statutory rights", which tells you feck all) and taking the debt and leaving YOU to prove your innocence instead.

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re: Usual stuff

I had the same deal ***from my Bank*** they wanted that before they could tell me what the call was about. They offered to give me a phone number to call to call back when I said I had no idea who they were so would not give out personal information.

I pointed out that any phone number given is no more trustworthy than the phone call giving it.

Wallies.

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re: Moorcroft (and their likes) aren't to blame

Yes they are.

If they didn't take the debt with no questions asked, the original plaintiff would either keep it themselves or make a better job of finding the debtor.

If the agencies told you of your rights rather than hid you from them so the loopholes could be abused, we wouldn't have to hate and fear them.

They are 100% responsible for their actions.

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Happy

@Mike

Use the Co-op bank for your credit cards then.

I have missed 3 payments with them over the years, each time I got a very polite phone call asking me if there was a problem with my ability to repay the money. Once I was on holiday and unable to pay them for a couple of weeks, I tolled them tis and they asked my to pay as soon as I got back, which I did.

No debt collector, no hassle, and nothing on my credit rating either.

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We all hate 'em more than traffic wardens

I have a story too. I was working at the time for a small Telecoms company. It turns out that one of the Directors had neglected to pay a parking ticket so it got referred to the Debt Collectors. All well and good i suppose. Then one day I get a call, when the directors are off at a board meeting and so unreachable from the downstairs receptionist in quite a terrible state. A bailiff was down there making all kinds of threats, despite her having told him that the debtor was not on the premises. I went down to intervene. It resulted in a very long and heated argument with said jumped up little oik about the law. He was overtly threatening to force his way into the premises and seize goods up the value of the debt (he'd not get much, I offered him some mousepads and a t-shirt) regardless of the debtor not being in the building. He threatened myself and other members of staff and tried to tell me (I'd spent a very brief spell in debt collection myself, but left before my soul was irrepairably tarnished) that he was legally able to do so and force his way in to collect the debt. I asked him, then, where his warrent and accompanying two uniforms were. He refused to comment and continued to threaten myself personally now with, i may add, obstruction, to be violently opposed (haha). I then asked to speak directly to his manager and requested the number. he refused to do this. I told him the law in no uncertain terms and he got angry again. I eventually, with assistence, ejected the leather jacketed fool from the premises. Parting threats were never realised.

I later spoke to his manager who promised to investigate (threatening behaviour to a pregnant woman - the receptionist among his legion of sins) but again heard nothing. It was fun to watch the man squirm though, I admit. How many people though, less aware of the law and less able to defend themselves (the elderly and so on) have not successfully gotten rid of this man or others?

Time to rein these people in and regulate them, or at least educate people of the law. Bailiffs can only enter and seize property with a warrent and the presence of two uniforms to represent the law. You can refuse them entry and they can do nothing about it, except apply for a warrent. You refuse their calls and after three-six months they will refer the debt back to the originator. basically, like all bad things, ignore them for long enough and they'll go away

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Anonymous Coward

@Don't blame the DVLA

>>So how did they trace all the people in the area with the same name without breaking data protection laws?

Last time I looked, flicking through the phone book wasn't against the law :p

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If it's a small debt

Not directly a comment about the story, but if a big company is chasing you for a small debt, and you're still a customer of one said company's many tentacles (e.g. I had Virgin Home Insurance chasing me but we still have accounts with Virgin Active and Virgin Media) write them a stern letter saying you pay more each month for their services than you supposedly owe them in debt and if they don't call off the hounds (i.e. Moorcroft) you'll take your business elsewhere. Works a charm.

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Silver badge

@Jaowon

I'm not in the phone book, I've ticked the box on the electoral roll to restrict access to my data. I'm not impossible to find, but you'd have to try a bit harder than just the phone book.

It also helps that there is someone who writes books and shares my name, so even Google finds him for several pages before I appear.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Jaowon

Quote Article:

"So he was very surprised when he received a phone call from Moorcroft Debt Recovery, one of the UK’s largest debt collecting agencies, to his ex-directory phone number."

I think you may have missed that bit"

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Debt Collection on this side of the pond...

...Is not so bad. Pretty easy to ignore, actually. The general pattern for a private debt collection agency in the U.S.:

-They send you a letter explaining your "obligation" (generally a certified letter if the supposed debt is large, which you can refuse to sign for, thereby preventing its delivery).

-They call you, from a restricted number (caller ID blocked), and demand that you verify your identity, without first identifying themselves. If you refuse to do this, they get pissy and hang up.

They repeat these steps for a few months, generally calling much more than mailing, and eventually they give up. I suppose if it's a particularly large debt and the company which claims the debt cares enough, they can file a lien or even sue you, but that seems to be fairly rare.

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Alert

Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act

If want to put S%^T up Moorcroft there little bit law worth knowing.

Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act

http://www.cccs.co.uk/faqs/Creditors__Collections.aspx#BM1

Look it up on Google, a nice bit of law.

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Unhappy

funny phone calls

I keep getting answerphone messages asking me to "press one to continue" - obviously the autodialler system is so fracking useless it can't even figure out it's talking to another machine instead of a real person.

And it's a "number withheld" on 1471 so I can't even try phoning them back.

Idiots.

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Happy

re: funny phone calls

Note the time of one of the calls, to the second, then report it to your 'phone provider as a nuisance call, mentioning that it keeps happening, it's unsolicited and perturbing you. It'll generally be dealt with fairly swiftly..

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Anonymous Coward

For all those suffering from bad credit report

If anyone has a bad credit report because of dept collectors or any other reason there is a very simple fix.

Simply send all three credit report companies a registered letter detailing who you are and any address they might have you listed under and state the following

"You revoke permission to collect hold and give out any of your private data that they have collected through prior permission given through proxy."

What this means is that the credit report companies who have your information have it only because you have given them permission through proxy i.e. any time you got or sent in an applicaton for a credit card or mortgage or insurance there would have been small print that makes you give permission for that company to pass on the information to third parties of interest i.e. the credit report companies. But under data protection they cant give out your details as they do not have your direct permission to do so only to collect that is why when you have a search done on you they ask do you give them permission to check your credit report this is how they get around it.

But permission is permission it can be given OR revoked at any time and if you revoke permission to collect and hold your information they are legally bound to delete and not collect your information till you give them permission again through proxy again.

Sorry if the above sounds confusing its 2am lol hope you got the jist of it anyhow.

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Unhappy

@Shagbert

Yeah, but then the only problem is that I might find out who it is, and have to talk to them...

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Flame

DVLA - becoming a sci-fi Ministry from'Brazil'

The more I read of this DVLA organisations attitude to its clients and lack of information security

the more I am reminded of the ministry of Information in the film Brazil.

Next the torture sessions and the signing of the love pact with the state

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Bronze badge

@Jaowon

I'm not in the phone book or any other directory. Never have been. So the question still stands.

Got another smart arsed, ill considered response?

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Dan
Paris Hilton

Mooridiots

I have spent the last year or so dealing with Moorcroft in relation to a bill that was partially in my name. I stress partially as they had my surname but the wrong initial for my or my wifes first name. That raised alarm bells for me when they first contacted me so I requested the original bill information to check what the bill was, when it was for, and if it was a valid bill.

I lost count the number of times I requested this information, and it was never sent to me. But those nasty letters and then phonecalls kept coming. Eventually I got one person there who had an ounce of sense and they gave me the dates of the bill. I advised her, (and repeated by letter later,) that the dates they had were for after we had moved out of the property in question, and this explained the partially incorrect name details. Basically the Landlord hadn't wanted to foot the electricity bill and had told the provider that we were still living there during the period the property was vacant.

A quick copy of my council tax bill for that period, and a copy of the final bill from the provider shut Moorcroft up. However............

.....they have still not sent me written documentation accepting the documents, and have not confirmed by hardcopy letter that the account is closed. So Im going to do what I should have done a long time.

One letter re-requesting the close off and confirmation of documentation notification shall be sent to Moorcroft, the second copy shall be sent to the Credit Ombudsman with Moorcroft being advised that the Ombudsman is being contacted as well.

We'll see how quickly Moorcroft respond then. :D

Paris, as Im sure she's had to deal with these muppets at some point or other as well :D

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Paris Hilton

RE: Mooridiots

Dude, seriously, you need to get on with your life. Do not enter into any further correspondence whatsoever with Moorcroft. Let them waste money sending you standard letters and phone calls. In the highly unlikely case you get a county court claim from them then reply with your supporting evidence and it will be thrown out in your favour.

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