This blog is certainly not legal advice.
In recent years, we have seen and heard of people receiving demands from debt recovery companies claiming they owe money on old credit accounts like mobile phones, credit cards and loans.
Whilst in a lot of cases, the demands are reasonable and can be proven, we have heard of stories where the people receiving demands have never owed the money. This could be for example where the customer has cancelled the account (properly,) but that cancellation has not been processed correctly.
The common theme with these demands is that these debt recovery companies all tend to say the same thing. They tend to say that they will threaten you with a report to the credit reference agency.
If the person making the demand does not have reasonable grounds for making the demand and the use of the threat is not a proper means of reinforcing the demand, then the person making the demand can be guilty of the offence of blackmail. Section 21 Theft Act 1968 says:
(1) A person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces; and for this purpose a demand with menaces is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief—
(a)that he has reasonable grounds for making the demand; and
(b)that the use of the menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand.
(2) The nature of the act or omission demanded is immaterial, and it is also immaterial whether the menaces relate to action to be taken by the person making the demand.
(3) A person guilty of blackmail shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
A report to the credit reference agency is not a proper mean of reinforcing the demand.
The most proper use of reinforcing a demand is the threat and taking of Court action or insolvency (subject to the amount). Therefore, it could be that the person making the demand may be committing an offence.