The debt collection process: What to expect

There are various stages in the debt collection process, which can vary depending upon who your debt is owed to.

The different stages or approaches could include steps such as your debt being sold to another company, or a debt collection company getting in touch.

We know that the process can be confusing, so we've created a helpful guide to explain how debt collection works within Lowell, and how we will work with you to agree an appropriate solution based on your individual circumstances.

Click on the links below to jump to the section you want to read and find out more about debt collection and Lowell.

How does debt collection work?

Is Lowell a debt collector?

How will I know when my debt is sold?

More about Lowell and debt collection

Setting a payment plan with Lowell

Managing your payment plan

How does debt collection work?

When a company is owed an outstanding balance by a customer who stops or is unable to make payments, they often have the contractual right to sell that debt on to a debt purchase company such as Lowell, or to pass the account for collection to a debt collection agency.

What happens when a debt is sold to another company?

Once a debt is sold, the outstanding balance is legally owed to the new company instead of the original client.

If your debt is purchased by Lowell for debt collection, we'll work with you to get your debt cleared in a way that's affordable for you, and we'll tailor a solution that is based on your individual circumstances.

Is selling debt to a debt purchase company legal?

Yes - debts can be sold on or 'assigned' to another company if you don't keep up with your contractual payments. This is common practice with a number of debt types such as:

  • Loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Credit cards
  • Store cards
  • Hire purchase agreements
  • Catalogues

You can find out more information about debt purchasing from the Credit Services Association.

Is Lowell a debt collector?

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. We then work closely with our customers to pay back what they owe in an affordable way that suits them.

Who do Lowell collect for?

Lowell don't collect on behalf on 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:

  • Utilities - This can include gas, electric or water
  • Banking and financial services - This can include 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?

Once your debt is purchased by Lowell, we don't add any interest or charges to the account. 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, we may pass your account to a solicitor to begin legal proceedings. At this stage, fees and interest could be added, increasing what you owe.

If a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is granted, this will be visible on your credit file for 6 years, and may impact your ability to get future credit. 

However, as long as you engage with us and work with Lowell to manage your account, you don't need to worry about this.

Once your debt is purchased by Lowell, we don't add any interest or charges to the account. Any payment you make towards the debt goes towards clearing your balance.

How will I know if my debt is sold?

Once your debt is sold to another company, 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 (this is called 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 directly.

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 payments.

When we contact you, we want to better understand your circumstances. This will help us to agree an appropriate solution that is tailored to you.

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 Lowell's data privacy promise to find out how Lowell protects your data.

More about Lowell and debt collection

Whilst all debt collection companies work in different ways, in general, 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, address and your date of birth to ensure your details match the information we hold for your account.

Once 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 may 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?

Lowell ask you to confirm your personal details at the start of phone calls as a security measure before sharing any personal data or account information.  We ask you to confirm information that we already hold about you in our systems to make sure we’re speaking with the right person.  This is in line with our obligations under the data protection laws to keep your personal data 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 once you have paid all your bills and regular monthly expenses.

The Lowell budget calculator is completely free, and there's no obligation to get in touch with us when you use it. It works by putting 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 advice agency?

There are free debt advice agencies that help people with their finances by reviewing their circumstances, completing a financial budget and offering advice.

Once they understand your circumstances, one way they may be able to support you is by contacting the companies that you owe money to and agreeing a payment plan on your behalf.

Learn more about the free, independent debt support you can access and the support that they can provide to you.

At Lowell, our priority is to support you with managing your debt in the way that's right for you.

Setting a payment plan with Lowell

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, we’re able to offer you payment plans that are 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 call or email us if you’d prefer to pay using a different method or find out about other payment methods. Learn more about the different payment methods for Lowell that are available.

Do Lowell accept credit cards?

No, Lowell do not accept payments with a credit card.

Paying by credit card could cause more financial problems in the long run, as you may be charged interest and have to pay a minimum payment to your card provider.

Lowell don’t charge interest on payments and are able to accept payments that are affordable for you and tailored to your circumstances. Get in touch to talk with us about what payment options are available to you.

Managing your payment plan

At Lowell, once your payment plan is set, we’ll send you an email or letter to confirm the details. We’ll then only contact you periodically to make sure that 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 5552. If you’d rather not speak to someone on the phone, you can also use our website's handy live chat function.

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 we will work with you to work out what the next best step is, whether it’s amending your payment plan or taking some time to speak 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. This legal action could mean that fees and interest are added, increasing what you owe. If a County Court Judgment (CCJ) is granted, this will be visible on your credit file for 6 years and may impact your ability to get future credit. It's important that you get in touch to let us know what’s going on.

Check out our guide to your next steps with Lowell to see how we’ll work with you in different circumstances.

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

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. If you have more questions about Lowell debt collection, then get in touch with us today to speak to our team and find out how we can help.

For more information, check out our helpful debt guides to find out more about finance and debt.

First Published: 19th November, 2020

Content Reviewed and Updated: 22nd June, 2022

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