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Can I Visit My Family and Friends in the UK Without Being Arrested? – Melissa

“Dear Jon,

Hello, I am a US citizen who was living in the UK between 1998 and 2004. I still technically hold a UK resident permit (ILR), but I currently reside in Turkey.

In 2004 after the breakdown of a personal romantic relationship in the UK I found myself unable to pay on a loan and two credit cards that were in my name. I did not have any income or any way to make money, as I did not have a work permit (my ex-partner had been paying all my bills up until the point when we split). I soon discovered that due to not having a work permit I would not be able to afford the cost of living in the UK, so I moved to Turkey in the summer of 2004, and have been here ever since.

Upon moving to Turkey, I took out another loan from my UK bank to try to help me establish myself and hopefully start a business. Unfortunately my business failed and my financial situation never improved to the point where I was ever able to resume paying on my delinquent accounts, and I was unable to repay the loan I took out. I also went deep into overdraft on my current account. I was pestered by a couple of different collection agencies, and when they learned that I had moved to Turkey and had taken the second loan after I’d moved, I was told that the timing looked suspicious, and that the assumption they were making was that I’d taken out the loans and run up the credit cards knowing full well that I was skipping out of the UK and that I never had any intention of paying that money back. I assured them this was not the case, I had always had spotless credit up until that point and took these matters seriously. I also pointed out that if I h ad intended to skip out on my financial obligations, I would not have given them my contact information in Turkey or kept in touch with them.

Nonetheless, when I still was not able to make payments after about a year, I was told by one of the collection officers that my case had been passed on to the police and that the police would be pursuing it as a fraud case. I asked how I could sort it out and was told that it was too late for that, and that if I tried to come back to the UK for a visit (I still have family and friends there), I would be arrested at the airport.

In short, I have not returned to the UK since August 2005 out of fear that I would be arrested. I have been intermittently trying to learn whether I truly do have a warrant for my arrest, but have been told that I can only do this in person in the UK, which of course puts me in a catch-22 situation, as I do not want to fly to the UK until I know for sure what my legal status is.

So I’m wondering how I can be sure whether I have an outstanding warrant. I have been told by several people that it’s likely the collections agency was just trying to scare me with threats of a fraud charge, and that if I really had a warrant and if they really wanted to arrest me they would have stayed quiet about it and waited for me to visit, but regardless it’s not a risk I’m willing to take blindly. I’d rather know for sure first whether this warrant exists before attempting to fly to the UK. My concern is not so much about the credit card debts, but about the second loan, on which I was never able to make a payment and which I received after I had already left the UK.

Any insight you could give would be tremendously appreciated. Thank you!

Can I visit my family and friends in the UK for Christmas without being arrested?

Melissa”

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The Answer

Melissa,

Your situation is a bit complicated on the surface, but basically unless there has been a criminal case filed against you, and your Passport flagged somehow, entering the UK with just having outstanding debts is not going to get you arrested.

I do have a few questions.

If you were not permitted to work in the UK, how did you initially get the credit, overdraft, loans, etc?

When you took out the loan in the UK whilst in Turkey, were you asked to disclose any financials, income/wages, other debts? Do you know if the bank did a credit inquiry on you?

How much debt in total are we discussing and how much was the last loan you took out when you were in Turkey?

What was the date of the last contact you had with any bank or collection agency in the UK?

I am not going to try and second guess the collection firm as to if a fraud charge was brought against you or not, or if they were just using it as a threat, but you do need to find this out.

You can look into having a CRB or Criminal Records Bureau search done, which you would need to pay for and should be able to do this as you can request it stating you need it for future employment. You can also have someone do this for you who is in the UK, but they would need written permission from you and there are special forms that need to be completed.

You could have family members inquire with the courts as well, and/or any local Police stations, but the CRB check is more definitive.

If a fraud charge was brought against you, then it does take things up a notch and you would need to get legal advice.

I hope this helps and let me know what you find out.

Regards,

Jon

Can I Visit My Family and Friends in the UK Without Being Arrested?   MelissaJon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.

If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.

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  • Melissa

    Thank you for your response, Jon

    I was living in the UK on an unmarried partner visa, and my then-partner was well-established and solvent. As we were living together in a relationship akin to marriage, I was able to get credit based on his credit rating.

    I was not asked to disclose any information when I took out the loan. Because of the stellar credit rating I had built due to my partner’s exceptionally good financial situation, I had the sort of relationship with my bank where a large loan could be sorted out with a single phone call. I don’t know whether a credit inquiry would have been done for that, but at that point I was only very slightly behind on my credit bills and should have still had decent credit at that point.

    Debts: 2 small credit cards with less than £500 each, then one larger credit card that may have been as much as £1500. The loan I believe came in two pieces – if I remember correctly, there was an initial loan for a couple thousand, and then soon after when I had the idea to start a business, I added a much larger amount on. I think altogether that loan ended up being around £17,000, plus the credit cards (one was from the same bank, and the other two from Egg and Smile, I think).

    I’m not sure of the exact date when I last spoke to a collector at my Turkish phone number, I think it may have been late 2005 or early 2006. At my permanent address in the UK they’ve said they occasionally get envelopes for me through the post, but have marked them as “no longer at this address” and sent them back. They also say that collectors used to phone up, but that the phone calls have pretty much stopped over the past couple of years. I have not received a phone call on my Turkish phone from a UK number in a very long time.

    I am more than happy to pay for a CRB search – is this something that can be done online? If not, I may have to take your second suggestion and have someone in the UK do it on my behalf.

    Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate your advice.

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