The debt collection process: What to expect

There are various stages in the debt collection process, such as your debt being sold, debt collectors getting in touch, and the different payment options. The whole process can be very confusing, so we’ve created a guide to explain how debt collection works and how Lowell will work with you.

Debt is sold

When a company is owed an outstanding balance by a customer who stops making payments, they often have the contractual right to sell that debt on to a debt collection company such as Lowell.

Once a debt is sold, the outstanding balance is legally owed to the new company instead of the original. If your debt is purchased by Lowell, we’ll work with you to get your debt cleared in a way that’s affordable and realistic for you.

If the original company was reporting details about the status of your account to credit reference agencies, once the account is sold to Lowell, we'll take over this responsibility and you'll see our name on your credit file.

Is selling debt to a debt collector legal?

Yes - debts can be sold on or ’assigned’ to another company if you don’t keep up with your contractual payments. This is a common practice with a number of debt types such as a loans, overdrafts, credit cards and store cards, hire purchase and catalogues. You can find more information about debt purchasing from the Credit Services Association.

Is Lowell a debt collector?

Lowell are classed as both a debt collector and debt purchaser. We buy debts from businesses in a range of sectors like financial services, retail, telecoms and utilities. Once we purchase a debt, the balance is owed to us, so we then work with the account holders of the debt to pay back what they owe in an affordable way that suits them.

Who do Lowell collect for?

Lowell don’t collect debt on behalf of anyone else. Once Lowell purchases a debt from another company, we’re the legal owners of it and the outstanding balance is owed to us. There’s a large variety of companies that we purchase debt from regularly:

  • Utilities – These can be gas, electric or water
  • Banking and financial services – These can be loans, overdrafts or credit cards
  • Telecommunications – These are usually mobile phone, broadband or TV contracts
  • Home shopping – This type of debt usually relates to catalogues or online shopping accounts that use credit

Do Lowell charge interest?

No. Once your debt is purchased by Lowell, we don’t add any interest or charges to the account, so any payment you make towards the debt goes towards clearing your balance. If we don’t hear from you after repeatedly trying to get in touch with you, we may pass your account to a solicitor, to begin legal proceedings which will result in charges being added to your account. However, as long as you work with Lowell to manage your account, you don’t need to worry about this.

How will I know my debt is sold?

Once your debt is sold, the original company will send you a ‘goodbye letter’ to notify you of the sale and the new company will send you a letter to make you aware of the debt purchase (a Notice of Assignment). Lowell’s Notice of Assignment letter will explain that we have purchased your debt and the balance is owed to us, so you’ll need to get in touch with us to discuss your account going forward.  We will also try to contact you.

Why are Lowell contacting me?

We’ll contact you to let you know that we’re here to support you with your debt, and to give you options for making repayments. We’re not contacting you to ask you to clear your debt in one payment – we want to understand your circumstances, help you understand what’s affordable and set a payment plan that suits your situation.

How do Lowell have my contact details before I give you them?

When your debt is purchased from another company, the account information is shared with us. This includes personal details such as the name, date of birth and address of the customer so that we can identify you when speaking to you, and contact information so that we can let you know that we’ve purchased your debt and that you need to get in touch with us. If you want to change the contact details we hold for you or let us know which contact method you’d prefer, you can do this online by registering your Lowell account. You can also learn more about how data privacy works with Lowell.

Getting in touch

Debt collection companies work in different ways, but generally they’ll get in touch to speak with you about how you can begin to repay your debt. At Lowell, our priority is to support you with managing your debt in the way that’s right for you.

Once you get in touch with Lowell, we’ll start with some security questions to make sure we’re speaking with the right person. These are simple questions such as your name and your date of birth to ensure your details match the information we hold for your account.

When we’ve confirmed we’re speaking with the account holder, we’ll discuss your situation, and what your intention with your debt is. We’re here to listen and support you with your account, so depending on what your circumstances are, we’ll try and offer the best solution going forward. This might include going through a budget calculator to discuss what payment plan might be affordable for you, or it might be that we offer other options that better suit your situation, such as speaking with a free and independent debt advisor.

Why do I need to confirm my personal details on the phone?

As many companies do, Lowell complete security questions at the beginning of phone calls to ensure that we’re speaking with the account holder. This is information that we already hold for you in our database, and the questions are to protect your data from being shared with anyone other than yourself. This is in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is the law that companies have to follow to ensure they keep their customers’ data accurate, safe and secure.

What is a budget calculator?

A budget calculator is a tool you can use to understand how much money you have left over at the end of the month. It works by inputting your income and outgoings to calculate what the remainder is and helps to indicate how much might be affordable for you to pay towards your debt. You can complete the budget calculator with us over the phone or online – it’s really easy to use and provides options for all the different types of income and outgoings, to help you make sure you don’t miss anything.

What is a free, independent debt management company?

Debt management companies help people with their finances by arranging a repayment plan for outstanding debts. You will normally discuss your income and outgoings with them to work out what you have left at the end of the month to pay towards your debts. They will then arrange affordable payment plans with the companies you owe debt to on your behalf. You will make single payments to the debt management company who will then distribute the money to the companies that you owe money to. Some debt management companies charge a fee for this, however, there are companies that arrange payment plans for free. Learn more about the free, independent debt management companies we work with.

Setting a plan

Again, different debt companies have different processes for how customers can pay their debt. At Lowell, our process is to ensure that your payment is affordable and suitable for you. Beyond that, you’re in control of your payment plan.

After we’ve gone through a budget calculator with you, we’ll let you know how much money it shows that you have left at the end of the month. We can set up an affordable payment plan based on your budget calculator results and let you know how long that amount would take to clear your debt. You decide what amount is suitable for you, as well as the payment method, frequency and start date of your payment plan.

If you’d prefer, you’re able to set a plan or make a payment online instead of over the phone – simply register your Lowell account online.

What frequency options are available for a Lowell payment plan?

We understand that everyone’s situation is different – some people receive a wage, some people receive benefits, some people receive both. To help make your payment plan fit your finances, you’re able to make a payment weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or monthly.

What are the different payment methods I can use?

We have a variety of different payment methods for you to choose from, for example Direct Debit, debit card, cheque or standing order. You can only set a payment plan online by Direct Debit. If you’d prefer to pay using a different method or find out about other payment methods, you can call or email us. Learn more about the different payment methods available.

Managing your payment plan

At Lowell, once your payment plan is set, we’ll send you an email or letter to confirm this. We’ll then only contact you periodically to make sure your plan is still suitable, or if you miss a payment.

However, if you have a change in circumstances and need to change the details of your plan, you can do this online or by contacting us.

How do I get in touch with Lowell?

The quickest way is by phone – you can call us on 0333 556 5550. Alternatively, you can contact us online using our enquiry form.

Can I stop paying Lowell?

If you’ve had a change in circumstances and can no longer afford the payment plan you set up with us, please get in touch with us to let us know. We understand that individual circumstances change all the time and will help you work out what the next best step is, whether it’s amending your payment plan or speaking to a free, independent debt advisor.

If you stop making payments and don’t get in touch to discuss the reason why, we’ll continue to try to contact you to understand what’s happened. If we attempt contact repeatedly but don’t get a response, your account may be at risk of potential legal action, so make sure you get in touch to let us know what’s going on. Learn more about what happens if you don’t pay.

What else am I able to do online?

By registering your Lowell account online you’re able to manage your debt yourself, from anywhere at any time without needing to call us. Here’s are a few things you can do online:

  • Use our budget calculator to work out what you can afford
  • Set a payment plan
  • Check and amend your payment plan
  • Make a payment any time - day or night
  • Update your contact details
  • Receive and review documents from Lowell
  • Log in and check the progress of your payment plan

Learn more about how you can register your account online.

There are lots of different parts to the debt collection process, but we try to make working with Lowell to manage your debt as simple and easy as possible. Get in touch with us today to speak to our team and find out how we can help or find more helpful guides to all things debt related.