*Knock knock…* – The sound of someone at the door usually make people jump up from the sofa and run excitedly to see who’s arrived.
However, when you owe Council Tax arrears or have the Sheriff Officers coming after you, a simple ring of the door bell can be a very stressful experience!
For those who don’t know, Sheriff Officers are the Scottish equivalent of Debt Enforcement Agents, AKA Bailiffs. Sheriff Officers who enforce debt Council Tax arrears are known to use heavy-handed scare tactics to try and repossess your wages and belongings.
But most people don’t know what you can do to protect yourself against Sheriff Officers.
Sheriff Officers will use broad and ambiguous language in their letters and when on your doorstep. This is to make it seem like they are all-powerful and you have to do what they say – or else….
In most cases, this is not true.
What Sheriff Officers are allowed to do is heavily legislated. There are also plenty of loopholes and Scottish legislation in place to protect debtors from over-zealous Sheriff Officers.
As long as you know your rights and act within the law, you can prevent sheriff officers from taking your belongings and arresting your wages – or at least stall them so you have time to seek advice from the experts.
Here are 3 things you can do to protect yourself and your belongings from Sheriff Officers.
1. Don’t tell them where you work
If you have unpaid debts, your creditor can pass these debts on to the Sheriffs, who will take out what as known as a “Summary Warrant” against you. This will give them the right to arrest your wages if you don’t act fast!
Sheriff Officers will take money directly from your wages – but they can only do this if they know where your wages are coming from. The simple solution is – do not tell them where you work.
A more zealous Sheriff Officer may do some snooping, so if you are on good terms with your neighbours, ask them not to give away any gossip about you to anyone they don’t know.
This is only a temporary solution, so make sure you seek independent advice to work out how to proceed.
2. Take your finances into your own hands
Debts, like your maw’s phone calls, are not something you can duck forever. A good solution is to bite the bullet and make sure you keep control of your finances.
Once you find out that you have a Summary Warrant taken out against you & before they have arrested your wages, call the Sheriff’s Office directly and organise an affordable payment plan. You can pay back your debts in small but regular instalments without the money being taken straight from your wages.
The Sheriff will want to see a budget that shows your income and outgoings. If you have trouble working this out, seek independent advice to make sure you can make the payments as affordable as possible.
This way you can keep all your wages and pay your debts on your own terms.
3. Don’t help them do their job
As good as it is to be polite and helpful to your fellow man, remember that a Sheriff Officers job is to collect your money through any legal means.
Do yourself a favour and don’t help out. Make sure you:
- Don’t grant them entry to your home, unless they have the court order that allows them to do so. Sheriff Officers are like vampires – once invited in they can enter your house whenever they want.
- Don’t give out any personal information, like phone numbers, bank account details, or even if you are who they say you are. You are not obligated to tell them anything.
- Don’t leave anything in your front garden. Sheriff Officers can take bicycles, motorbikes & cars worth more than £1000 from outside your property WITHOUT a court order.
- Don’t open your door to them. Talk through the letter box, an open window or, if you have to, your open door with the chain firmly on. This will help you feel safe against intimidation, and is perfectly legal.
While all this information will help you delay Sheriffs, you cannot run away from your debt forever.
To help stop Sheriff Officer’s calling permanently, you are going to have to seek expert advice to help clear your debts.
Luckily, Council Tax Advisors are a community interest company that will answer any questions you have about debt, sheriff officers and Council Tax arrears FOR FREE.
So if you have any questions about defending yourself and your property from Sheriff Officers, click the button below to get in touch with Council Tax Advisors for FREE advice.