If you’ve settled a debt this December, you might be looking forward to a hassle-free Christmas – but one recent case adjudicated by the Financial Ombudsman shows how a simple admin error can lead to a significant credit control failure, and a whole lot of stress for one former debtor.
Referred to only as ‘Miss E’, the credit card customer was unable to meet her monthly repayments for several months, after her working hours were cut.
Eventually, the case was referred to debt collectors, but Miss E’s financial position improved and she was able to repay what she owed in full.
By early December, she had sent a cheque for the full amount, received confirmation of receipt, and that should have been the end of it.
Then in the middle of the month, Miss E was contacted again by the debt collector, followed by a letter on December 23rd threatening her with legal action.
As anybody might do – especially as she knew she had paid – Miss E simply ignored the letter until after Christmas, and contacted her credit card provider again on December 27th.
Their investigations revealed that the cheque had indeed been received, but in their own records Miss E’s account number had been mistyped, effectively meaning the funds were credited to a different customer’s account.
Miss E was told she would not be contacted again about the debt – but being credit-savvy, she checked her credit history and found that it showed her debt as having been settled in January, and not December when she sent the cheque.
She called in the FOS, saying that on top of all of the inconvenience, her Christmas had been ruined – and the FOS agreed.
Her credit card providers were instructed to amend her credit history to properly reflect when she had settled her debt, and to give her £200 towards making up for the stress she had suffered over the Christmas period.
The case is a fine example of the importance of accuracy in credit control processes – first with Miss E’s account number, and then with the mark added to her credit record, neither of which were a fair reflection of her actual financial position.