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Friday, October 9, 2015

ஆமை புகுந்த வீடு ~woman pounded by bailiff for non-repayment of loans that she never took !!

ஆமை புகுந்த வீடும் அமீனா புகுந்த வீடும் உருப்படாது - என்பது வழக்கு மொழி.  ஆமை என்றாலே துரதிர்ஷ்டவசமானது என்ற எண்ணம் பரவலாக உள்ளது.  : அமீனா : தமிழ் அகராதியில் : உரிமையியல் நீதிமன்றத்தின் கட்டளைகளை உரியவரிடம் வழங்குவது போன்ற பணிகளை நிறைவேற்றுகிற ஒர் அலுவலர்; நிலுவை, வராக்கடனாக நிற்கும் பணத்தை ஏலம் முதலியன செய்து வசூல் செய்யும் அலுவலர்.  ஆமை வரவைப் பற்றி  சொல்ல ஒன்றும் இல்லை எனினும் - நீதி மன்றத்தின் வழியாக வசூல் செய்ய அலுவலரின் வரவு - விரும்பத்தக்கதல்ல ! 

There is an oft repeated saying in Tamil meaning that ‘the entry of tortoise and ameena is unwelcome’ ~not sure of its origin.  Nothing to say about the tortoise, though it continues to be of great value for smugglers - but ameena [a Court bailiff] entering a place armed with a court order to recover money for sure would not be welcome for anybody.  A bailiff (from Middle English baillif, Old French baillis, bail "custody, charge] is a manager, overseer or custodian; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority or jurisdiction is given. Bailiffs are of various kinds and their offices and duties vary greatly.  In Switzerland, such Official is known as Vogt.  During Shakespeare's time, they had acquired the nickname bum-bailiffs, perhaps because they followed debtors very closely behind them; in France, the term pousse-cul (literallypush-arse), was similarly used for their equivalent officers.

Financial institutions would adopt various methods to recover their dues from loanees.  Sometimes they resort to unlawful methods of pressuring those who had taken the loan too.  Here is a story of a woman, bullied by banks for 5 years over a £16k debt.  

Money Mail carried this interesting story a couple of months back.   Jennifer Walker has been harassed for five years over debts ~ that aren’t hers.  Though  she has frequently protested her innocence, the demands keep coming. She has been contacted by 24 different firms, had bailiffs shouting through her letterbox and received intimidating letters on Christmas Eve from debt collectors threatening to repossess her house. She has explained to banks, phone companies, mail order firms and credit card providers that she is not the person they are looking for — but it makes no difference. In total, she has been accused of owing £16,000. But the reason Jennifer can’t prove her innocence is because the person who owes this money has an almost identical date of birth and name. The 35-year-old, from Fareham, Hampshire, says: ‘When speaking with these firms on the phone, I’ve been in tears. It really got to me having to come home to piles of letters demanding I pay all this money.

‘It felt horrible that they actually thought I was a bad person not repaying all this money. It made my stomach churn and I found it difficult to concentrate on my life.’ The first letter accusing her of owing money — some £5,543 — arrived in 2010 from Santander. Jennifer told the bank she’d never had any dealings with it and contacted the credit reference agencies to amend the mistake. But the bank refused to believe her, and so kept chasing her for the money. Then more letters started pouring in, including ones from Lloyds, Nationwide, Halifax and Capital One. Most were sent through debt collectors. Every time a demand arrived, Jennifer rang up to explain it wasn’t for her.

At times, she has received up to four letters a day. She’s had threats of bailiffs coming to seize goods or that money could be taken from her salary. On one occasion Jennifer was sleeping, having worked a night shift at her former job as an office manager, and was woken by a bailiff banging on her door. She says: ‘He was shouting through the letterbox: “I know you’re in there!” ‘It was so stressful to be hounded like that. My life has changed. I can’t do anything because I fail credit checks through no fault of my own. It’s affected my family and my mother has been in tears.’

Occasionally, firms have admitted making an error. In November 2014, a debt collection agency acknowledged it had made a mistake chasing her for a £2,800 debt to Lloyds, and paid her £500 as compensation. But she is still being chased by 13 firms and there are debts of £12,637 against her name. Jennifer’s ordeal highlights the struggle innocent people face if the wrong information appears on their credit file. In UK, If you get a black mark on your credit file, a credit reference agency is not obliged to tell you it exists. You often don’t find out until you are refused credit. However, to correct the information, the onus is on you to prove you’re not a bad debtor. And only the company which made the original entry on your credit file can change it.

Jennifer’s ordeal seems to stem from Santander’s original error which linked her address to that of a woman with a near-identical name. Despite her request to amend the error, the bank failed to do so. This meant that every other company owed money by her namesake continued to wrongly pester her.  It is reported that after intervention of Money Mail,  the firms currently chasing debts from Jennifer finally apologise — and immediately cleared her name.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th Oct 2015.

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