Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.2. Tracing a debtor

ryanrori January 23, 2021

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If a letter is returned via Royal Mail marked ‘Addressee Not Known’ or ‘No longer at this Address’, never assume this is actually the case. Many practised debtors simply return a letter as ‘Gone Away’ to give themselves more time.

Start by taking the following steps:

  • Check your own information to see if you have made any errors on the original information. If you identify an error, reissue your invoice immediately using the correct details.
  • Dial telephone numbers and re-check via a directory-enquiry facility to ensure that you have the correct number.
  • Try a recorded delivery letter as this may be accepted and thus confirm occupancy.

If the debtor appears to be no longer trading from the premises you have details for, then consider the following:

  • Contact the debtor’s local Royal Mail Sorting Offices as they may have forwarding addresses, or may confirm that the subject is ‘still at the address’.
  • If you operate in the vicinity, use your delivery drivers or staff to seek information from the address or from its neighbours. However, you must have due regard to the Data Protection Act 1998. In particular, do not divulge any information about a debt to non-interested parties. You are seeking general information on a ‘private matter’ – “Is there a forwarding address that they know of?”
  • If you know any other suppliers that your customer uses, contact them to enquire if they have been notified of their change of address.
  • For businesses rather than individuals, use the Yellow Pages for the area of enquiry to identify and telephone businesses/newsagents in the locality who may well know the business or have useful information on the business’s status. Again you must have due regard to the Data Protection Act when making such enquiries.
  • Look at the Status/Credit Reference Report you may have obtained when opening the account as this may give you alternative addresses. In the case of a limited company, you are entitled to contact the directors, particularly the Company Secretary, who has an obligation to inform any interested party of the status of the limited company.

You can contact these individuals at their home address or address lodged with Companies House but you cannot make them individually liable for any debt. A polite question should help you establish whether, for example, the company has entered liquidation, or a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement.

Debtor Tracing options include:

  • Data wash – We supply you with a return file containing updated information.
  • Data wash with telephone confirmation – We supply you with a return file of updated and confirmed information.
  • Data wash with telephone confirmation and immediate transfer to your infrastructure.
  • Data wash with telephone confirmation and payment arrangement negotiation.