After 16 years of serving the interests of humanity as a volunteer worker in Germany and Botswana, it was now time for me to take my pregnant wife back home to the UK.
Having lived frugally on a minimum allowance for so many years, we knew what lay ahead would be a challenge, but the change to parenthood and self financing appeared exciting in the approaching horizon as we left behind a life never to be lived again.
My father in law owned a small cottage in Moffat, Scotland, not far from the English border town of Carlisle. We took up residency in this tourist town, not fully understanding the difficulties of finding employment in a rural area. When setting up house afresh after being abroad, necessary things like washing machines etc have to be purchased. We had little funds due to our previous lifestyle so we were hoping to obtain 0% store credit - then we received our 1st surprise!
Because we had not been on the elector roll in the past 12 months and we had no proof of permanent residency in the UK for the last 3 years - credit facilities could not be granted - instead I had to use a High Interest Credit Card which I possessed from the time before I became an international volunteer.
My wife wanted me to try developing some kind of home business opportunity so I checked the magazine 'Exchange & Mart', which contained many such business opportunities. Unknown to myself many of these listed business opportunities are elaborate scams and such scammers then proceed to sell your address details to other scammers - hence you receive plenty of scam opportunities through the mail, whose appeal is to sell you their sizzle and to send you into a financial tailspin by fooling your imagination with enticements of freedom and prosperity. These postal scammer of the1990's have since migrated onto the Internet to perpetuate their dastardly deeds. The end result was that my credit card balance suffered several blows, before I knew what was happening.
Since I arrived in Scotland a few years before the DotCom crash and before the year 2000 roll over debacle - Getting into computing seemed the perfect career opportunity,
So I applied to the banks for a career development loan to pay for a course which promised me a job after passing my MSCE qualifications from Microsoft or they would give me my course money back in full. However in the small print, which I did not see, the agreement stated that I should apply for this provision, within 8 days of gaining my final Qualification.
By the time I had gained my final qualifications, I had been unemployed almost 5 years - My wife left me just 2 months short of the final exam, how I passed the exams, during the ensuing emotional turmoil I will never know - such turmoil guaranteed I would never see that important small print - hence after enquiring about a job a few weeks after passing the exam, which few weeks I needed to myself in order to come to terms with my new found circumstances - I discovered the horrifying truth that there was no job, the training company folded up and I owed the bank thousands of £'s.
If that was not bad enough, the unemployment people cut my state benefits by 50%, since I was now classified as being single, and thus I found I was unable to pay my credit card payments. I moved to Manchester my home town to seek employment - my personal family was long dead so I was basically on my own trying to work out my personal survival. By this time I had cancer for the 2nd time and the future looked bleak.
My credit card with one bank went into default - My mind was now on my health. I spent hours scouring nutritional books from the public library - but I could not afford the supplements or the equipment that I was reading about. However, after 1 full year of intense reading, I had enough knowledge to get a job in a health store and thus purchase supplements some times at a reduction of 70%, as a perk.
6 years have passed and some how by the grace of God I am alive. Learning the importance of keeping my body in an Alkaline state by eating Alkaline foods and drinking Alkalised water and eating foods that block the absorption of Iron, which Iron cancer depends upon along with an acidified oxygen starved bodily environment - such knowledge as helped me through this crisis, I am sure!
But what about the bank problem - well the bank I owed my career development loan too was understanding and were willing to take a minimum payment at an interest free rate, once they understood my situation. The credit card bank, though knowing my medical condition and circumstances used bully tactics and threats of visitations - at the time my cancer had returned for a 2nd time - I could not afford the stress of such intimidation - hence I gave in and agreed to make a monthly payment, though I could not afford it.
After 6 years I checked my credit files and found 3 defaults recorded, of the 3 defaults 2 should not have been there. I made an appeal and received a promise that at the end of July 2007 they would be removed. The final default was from my credit card bank, which was genuine, I appealed to those who maintained such data, insisting that for the last few years I have been paying off the balance monthly - they replied that I should not worry because at the end of July 2007, the default is to be removed according to the 6 year rule.
A credit file completely free of defaults can only lead to a brighter financial future - I had survived cancer and I had survived not giving into bankruptcy - I had a lot to be proud of!
Just a few days before the banks default was to be removed I received a letter from this bank saying that they had sold my account to a Credit Agency - A quick Google search on the Internet revealed to me that this agency has the worst reputation for intimidation, demands and issuing court papers imaginable.
I still only work part time, its taken me so long to regain my strength and I still cannot afford to undergo stress - so what now?
Lessons to be learned
Always read the small print
In the 90's DotCom was really DotCon - Never ever scam - the damage to family life is beyond belief.
Keep a careful watch on your Credit File - 2 false defaults had been there for 3 years in my case!!
Are you buying a genuine opportunity or a crafted sales letter?
Banks are Goliaths - But David is fighting back
Consumer groups are in touch with The Office of Fair Trading
As for myself - I have presented my case to a consumer group who are watching my case closely. I intend to write to my bank complimenting their staff in my local branch and then asking them why they carried out such a dreadful deed without consulting me first and with full knowledge of my condition.
I also intend to write to the UK Prime Minister and to the Office of Fair Trading
For all of this - I still believe in my heart - I will win through!
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