D4D

Slapping the Stupid with Stun-Guns

Archive for the category “Bankruptcy”

Disconnecting

As part of the whole bankruptcy process (now well and truly complete, of course) I’ve been using a couple of free services to keep track of my credit score.  It’s been useful to know what’s going on, and where things stand.

I primarily use ClearScore (who use data from Equifax) and CreditKarma – who used to be Noddle – and use data from Transunion (which used to be Legatio)

Part of the reports from both of those (and from Experian, whose ‘free’ service is an absolute dumpster fire, and absolutely refuses to allow me to view my own data) involves past addresses, and people with whom one has had a credit connection – things like a shared mortgage, or whatever.

Looking through the CreditKarma stuff in particular, I noticed that they still have a record of my old addresses going right back to Bracknell – bearing in mind, I moved there back in early 2005…   It also still had me linked to Herself for the mortgage we had back on the Norfolk place (which must’ve been 2007/8, if not earlier)

So, I asked them about why this stuff was still on there – bearing in mind, credit stuff is supposed to stay on one’s record for six years and then go – and got a response back that was… less than encouraging.  (Note, I’m going to edit some of this so it’s comprehensible without being comprehensive)

There are several reasons why TransUnion UK hold historic address information [including] something called asset reunification, which is when TransUnion UK helps clients trace the holders of lost or forgotten financial accounts, such as pensions or bank accounts.  So, if you have an account associated with an old address that you don’t know about, financial institutions will be able to find you.

Another reason [we hold] old historic address information is to help organisations trace individuals who have moved without telling their creditors where their new home is (this is known as debt tracing).

For now, let me confirm that TransUnion UK holds address information indefinitely. However, they are reviewing their policy to see if a fixed upper limit can be set on how long they will keep address data for.

The “Indefinite holding” of that data is definitely a no-no. So far as I know, it’s still the case that if a company doesn’t get in touch with a debtor at all for six years, that debt is no longer viable, and is effectively written off.  So historic data could be stored for (I’ll be charitable) seven years, and then get erased. I’d be OK (ish) with that, at least.

But this is information going back more than twice that time.  I’ve now filed requests to lose all of that data – I’ve now been at this one address for longer than the six years usually required – and also to take away the connection to Herself. (I can’t imagine she’d be overly happy to still have that connection either)  We’ll see what happens on those things.

I’m also going to refer this to the Information Commissioner, because I’m pretty sure they’ll be interested in anyone who claims to be storing personal data indefinitely…

Slump

Things have been quiet on D4D of late. Basically, I’m in a bit of a slump, and at the moment I’m not quite sure how to get out of it.

There’s a lot of reasons behind it, but mainly it’s down to an overbearing feeling of stagnation, or being a bit bogged down. I’m used to having change in my life, and at the moment it’s not really there. Some of that is inertia, some of it is still the final stages from the bankruptcy process and some of it is the current state of things. But it all adds up to an overall sludge – and while I know I want things to change, I also don’t quite know what I want to do next, or where I want to be.

Domestically, I’ve been in this house for seven years. That’s by far the longest I’ve been in any one place since I left the family home. I was looking at moving last year when the tenancy came up, but that was only just after the bankruptcy finished, and I didn’t want to push things while it was still showing up on credit checks and the like.  So I’m thinking about it for this year – but there’s also nowhere that’s dragging me, nowhere that I’ve been and thought “OK, this is where I want/need to be”, and it’s all a bit up in the air. There’s still time, though.

Workwise, I’ve been working on the same project for more than three years. (Probably closer to 4, all told)  And while we’ve got a lot done, there still feels like no end in sight (things keep on being added in to it, or stuff is more complex than initially expected) which doesn’t help. I like contracting in general for exactly this – that each contract is finite – even though they can (and usually do) get extended, they still have an end date where I can say “Nope, I’m done”. This one is open-ended, and it’s feeling more and more like a proper job and blah blah.

Outside of those two things, there’s so much doubt about what’s going on in the UK – with Brexit being delayed even further, it’s left everything in limbo again, of not knowing what’ll happen with it, and what’ll happen with jobs, economy and so on if and when it happens. I can’t deny, that all contributes to the current sense of stagnation.

I’m not depressed – well, no more than usual – and I’m still getting out and getting other stuff done. It’s just that I’ve not got the time or energy for anything extra. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I’m going to keep on working on it, though.  I know I need a couple of new projects to be getting on with – but I also need to find the motivation to get it going. That’s where the stagnation is really hurting – I know I need and want to change, but right now the drive to change things is also being blocked.

I’ll figure it out, I know – I always do, and always have done.  And hopefully it won’t take too much longer to turn the corner.

The Joy of Tech

Yesterday, while doing a quick shop on the way to work, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. Bugger.

I was just about prepared to take everything back to its shelves/locations, when it occurred to me that actually I was still OK – I had my phone with me still. That meant I’d got the ability to make a contactless payment – and because I’d also added the details of my Monzo card/account to the phone, it meant I had everything I needed.

It’s pretty amazing, the way these things have now become so much more mainstream than they were ten years ago, or even five.  Since I got the Monzo card eighteen months ago (it’s the only one I have that also connects into my ApplePay account on the phone) I’ve stopped carrying cash except for specific occasions – for example, the car wash I use still only takes cash.

I still prefer to carry physical cards (hence usually having a wallet) but it was still interesting to realise that forgetting it is no longer the “Oh shit!” moment it used to be. (So long as I remember my phone, and that I can use it, anyway)

Ain’t progress grand?

Ten Years Back – The Changes

Having whanged on about things from Ten Years Ago, I thought I’d have a quick sum-up of what’s changed in that time as well. It might be interesting, it might not.

So anyway, since Jan 2009 I have…

  • lived in five different houses (a couple only short 6-month tenancy things, but still)
  • been a lot more settled of late, and now been in the same house for nearly seven years. Which is faintly terrifying
  • changed jobs and contracts more times than enough – by my reckoning I’ve done 17 jobs/contracts in that time, but I’ve still probably forgotten at least one.
  • been through the whole bankruptcy process from start to finish
  • gained three cats
  • lost one cat
  • changed car. Twice.
  • driven lots (and lots and lots) of miles
  • Started going to see more plays and theatre stuff
  • Been to a whole load of Michelin-starred restaurants (as well as plenty of other places) as part of that whole “solo dining” thing

There’s other stuff as well, but that seems to be the key points, at least.  All told, I’m pretty happy with that list – some of it’s not been great, but even those have been better than the alternatives.

I wonder what’ll come in the next ten?

Closing The Year

And so we’re at the end of 2018. And as such, it seems apt that the last post of the year should be a quick assessment and overview.

All told, it’s been a good – and busy – year.

There’s been more travel than usual, with that week in Toronto to add into the bargain.

There’s been more work, but also more fun times, trips out, meals, etc.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on weight-loss which has ultimately ended up not doing much – but I have more knowledge, more figures, and the steps I’ve taken have improved my health, strength, stamina, and resilience. They’ve just done sod-all to lose actual weight. But I’m OK with that, and it’s something I’ll continue to work on.

On the downside, I’m ending the year with a bit more debt than I’d like. It’s nothing earth-shattering, nor even major. A fair chunk of it is for tickets for things in 2019, of which another decent chunk is owed to me by others for their tickets. But all the same, it’s more than I’d like it to be.

However, in a fit of progress and being grown up, it’s also now all in one place, with zero-interest ’til 2022, and it’ll be done by the end of 2019.  I could do it even quicker if I wanted – and I may do so – but it’s all under control, and I’m OK with it.

There are, as always, things I haven’t done – no matter the good intentions, they just haven’t happened. I’ll continue to work towards those things, and I’m going to write more about that tomorrow.

All told, it’s been a positive year, and I’m feeling pretty good at the end of it.

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

Nearly Done

Today marks the six-year anniversary of when I declared myself bankrupt.

The next twelve months is the final stage of it all – Bankruptcy is a strange edge-case when it comes to credit-score reporting, because it actually has a duration.

If it had been a simple marker, it would expire today and all would be well.

But because it lasts a year, it doesn’t come off the record until six years after the bankruptcy period *ends*. So, another year of it being on the record.

It’s an oddity, and one that seems to confuse a lot of people when it comes to asking about when these things expire.

Still, only another 12 months to go. Could be worse.

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