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I've received a letter telling me to cancel my IVA. What do I do?

For the past few years we’ve warned our individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) clients about scam letters that try to take advantage of people with IVAs.

We’ve heard several stories of our IVA clients receiving ‘missold IVA’ letters. Some of these letters inform them that they’ve been missold the debt solution and that the company can either help reduce payments to creditors or “get the debt written off” to be “debt free sooner”.

These letters, sent out in bulk, assume an individual IVA was missold without seeing or reading the IVA proposal. If we helped you put together a personalised debt solution, then it’s unlikely that the blanket ‘solutions’ offered by these letters would be beneficial for you.

If you receive a letter such as the one below, please contact us through the IVA clients page.

What do these letters look like?

Here's a typical example of what a misleading letter from one of these companies looks like:

Example of an IVA scam letter

Why are these scam letters sent?

When someone’s subject to an IVA, their name and address is listed on the Individual Insolvency Register. As this is public, it means anyone can access the details.

There are good reasons for making insolvencies public. It means if any creditors are missed out of an IVA or other insolvency, they have an opportunity to find out about it and make sure they’re included. It also allows businesses or individuals who are considering lending you money to find out if you’re able to pay.

Unfortunately, the Register can also be abused by companies looking for names and addresses of people with recent debt problems so they can send junk mail.

Some companies send letters to try and persuade or scare people on IVAs into contacting them. In our experience they often tell people to stop their IVA payments so the arrangement fails. They sometimes mention a service like ‘assisted bankruptcy’ as an alternative.

Going bankrupt currently costs a total of £680 in fees; £130 to the adjudicator and £550 to the official receiver. These companies are trying to get you to go bankrupt so they can charge fees on top of this for ‘help’ applying for bankruptcy, irrespective of whether it’s the best solution or not.

On a few unfortunate occasions we’ve spoken to people who’ve failed their IVA after taking advice from these companies, only to later realise that bankruptcy is not in their best interest. In some cases, we’ve even had to help client’s re-propose IVAs having previously failed them based on advice from these scam companies.

What should I do if I get a letter?

If you’re on an IVA with us and you receive a similar letter remember that your name and address is on a public register. we can't prevent these details appearing on the register, nor can we prevent companies from contacting you. The companies sending these letters are know you are on an IVA, but they have no way of knowing your individual circumstances or what has been agreed between you and your creditors.

When we propose an IVA we have to check that it is the best option for you. If bankruptcy or another solution would be better, we’d have to tell you about this. Please feel free to get in touch with your IVA case worker if you’re concerned.

Fortunately, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) works hard to close down scam operations as quickly as possible, but it always pays to be vigilant. If you’re on an IVA and receive a letter like this we’d recommend that you ignore it but don’t “file it in the shredder”. Instead, forward it into us and we’ll try as hard as possible to stop this sharp practice.

I’m struggling with my IVA payments – what can I do?

If you’re finding your IVA difficult to deal with, then you need to let us know. Any changes in your circumstances such as reduced income need to be discussed so we can take it into account while supervising your IVA.

Living costs are rising all of the time. It could be that your living expenses have become more difficult to manage. If this is the case, there are things you can do to save some money or boost your income:

 

Our team is here to help

0800 197 1713 Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm*

contact

Our address

StepChange Voluntary Arrangements

Arena Point

Merrion Way

Leeds

LS2 8PA

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2017