How to recognise if a debt's yours

Discover our guide on how to recognise if a debt is yours, and your next steps with Lowell. If you're worried that a debt isn't yours, find out how we can help.

Sometimes, customers get in touch to ask us why they have been contacted by Lowell. We understand that you might feel surprised if you weren't aware that there was a debt in your name, but we're here to help. There are several ways that this could have happened, so this guide is here to help you understand how to recognise if a debt is yours, and your next steps. If you think that something isn't right, we'll always look into the situation to help you get it resolved.

In this guide:

  • When am I still liable for debt?
  • What to do if you don't think you're liable for debt
  • If you are liable for debt, what happens if you don't pay Lowell?
  • Why would Lowell contact me? Why are Lowell contacting me?
  • How did Lowell get my number?
  • How can I stop letters from Lowell Financial?

When am I still liable for a debt?

There are lots of reasons why you may think that you're no longer liable for a debt, but there may still be charges or fees due on the account. If the account is purchased by Lowell, we'll contact you to help you determine a payment plan and start you on the road to settling the debt. There are also steps you can take to make sure that this doesn't happen to any other accounts and contracts that you currently have.

You might have closed an account with outstanding charges you weren't aware of

You might have closed an account without being aware that there are still outstanding charges or interest on the account, or things that you need to settle to make sure that you're not charged.

Information on this will be available on cancellation documents that the company sent to you. However, if you didn't read or didn't notice the information on the contract when you signed it, you may not be aware of additional charges.

In some situations, not returning equipment can result in a charge, which will still need to be paid to that company, even if you didn't have an account with them anymore. An example would be a broadband company, who might request that you return a router once you close your account.

How to prevent this: Always check with your provider if you can close the account without charges, and if any equipment needs to be returned to close the account.

You may have cancelled a contract before the fixed period ended

If you have a contract for a fixed period, you may believe that you can cancel the contract at any point, such as mobile, TV or broadband, with no further costs. However, once you open a contract with a company, you're agreeing to continue that contract for the full period.

For example, a lot of mobile contracts are for 24 months. If you cancel your contract before the end of the period that you agreed to, you'll likely be charged for the remaining cost of that contract, including potential early repayment charges and any additional costs while in the contract.

How to prevent this: If you speak to a company to cancel a contract, they should make you aware of any extra charges or fees. Make sure to check whether the agreed period has ended first, and whether there will be any fees or charges for cancelling.

You were a guarantor for someone else's credit

If you have been a guarantor for someone else for credit, you may believe that you're simply helping them to get credit and that's all. However, being a guarantor for someone could mean that you end up being responsible for their credit in certain circumstances.

If the person you have guaranteed is unable to make payments and breaks the terms of their contract, you could be responsible for the amount they have borrowed if their account defaults.

How to prevent this: Before becoming a guarantor for someone, you should make sure that you fully understand the potential risks that come with it.

You had a joint account with someone else

If you open an account jointly with someone else, you'll both be responsible for repaying the credit that's taken out. However, many people don't understand that this means you'll each be responsible for the full amount owed.

This means that if the other person has taken out more credit on that account than you wanted or agreed to, and they're unable to repay the amount, you might have to repay the money that they owe.

How to prevent this: Be cautious about opening a joint account with someone else if you think they might not be able to keep up with payments, and keep track of payments on that account.

You moved out of a house but didn't update your utility companies

When you pay for utilities in a house, you may believe that once you move out of that house, you're no longer liable for those utilities, but this might not be accurate. If you have utility accounts in your name and you move out of the house without making the utility providers aware that you're moving, they will be unaware that the account name needs to be updated, and the utilities used in the house may continue to be racked up in your name.

If you can provide proof that you've moved out of the property, then you may be able to resolve the issue.

How to prevent this: Make your utility companies aware that you're moving out of the property before you leave. You should also check that there's no outstanding balance on your utility bills before moving. You might assume that the account is fully settled, and be unaware that there's a balance remaining to be paid.

What should you do if you don't think you're liable for a debt, and what can Lowell Financial do to help?

If you've been contacted by Lowell about a debt that you don't think is yours, or you think that something isn't right, please get in touch. We're here to help, so we'll give you all the information we have about the debt, including the original company that the debt was taken out with. If you still think something's not right, we'll look into the situation.

You can contact us in writing at any time asking us to explain a debt that you think might not belong to you and we will work with you to understand what's happening. We'll give you all the details we have about the account, and we'll ask you some questions to help us figure out what's happened.

If you are liable for a debt, what happens if you don't pay Lowell?

If you have a debt that's owned by Lowell, we'll reach out and try to contact you by phone, email and letter. If you don't get in touch to explain your situation or set up a payment plan, you might be at risk of your account being passed on for further action from a solicitor.

The solicitor will also try to contact you, but if we don't respond, they may take legal action. This could result in a County Court Judgment (CCJ), which may lead to enforcement action such as bailiffs (enforcement agents). For more about the CCJ process and how Lowell works with bailiffs, you can find helpful guides in our debt guidance hub.

We understand that everyone's circumstances are different, but Lowell are here to help and support our customers and help you find an affordable and fair path towards becoming debt-free.

While you're making payments we'll never add fees or interest, and your payment plan will be based on what you can afford within your budget. If you want to talk through your options, get in touch and tell us about your situation so our friendly team can help you find the right support.

Why are Lowell contacting me?

If you've had a letter, email or phone call from Lowell, it's probably us getting in touch to tell you that we've purchased your debt.

We'll try to contact you to inform you that Lowell own your debt and to talk about the best way forward for you. If you think there's something wrong, please let us know and we'll always do our best to get to the bottom of things.

Why would Lowell contact me?

Lowell will get in touch to introduce ourselves, and let you know that we've purchased your debt. If you're not expecting a call from us, and you're concerned about discussing financial matters over the phone, you're right to be wary. If you receive a call from Lowell we'll identify ourselves, but if you're not sure you can hang up and call us back on 0333 556 5550. Head to our Fraud Awareness guide for more tips on identifying and avoiding scam calls. 

If you have any concerns about Lowell contacting you and you'd like more information about your account, you can check online to find out more information. You can also contact us directly by phone, email or letter.

How did Lowell get my number?

When Lowell purchases debt from other companies, the relevant details of the account will be shared with us. This could include your name, date of birth and address, so that we can identify you when we speak to you and make sure that we're speaking to the right person. It might also include contact details such as your phone number so that we can get in touch and keep you updated once Lowell has purchased your debt.

Your data is protected at every stage - for more information about your data, see our Customer Privacy Notice and frequently asked questions about Data Privacy. 

You also have rights about your information, including the rights to make a Subject Access Request (SAR). For more about your rights and how to request data, please see the 'What Rights Do You Have?' section of our Customer Privacy Notice.

How can I stop letters from Lowell Financial?

The easiest way to stop letters from Lowell Financial is to start a payment plan. Our payment plans are always based on your budget and what you can afford to pay, and you can control the amount you repay.

If you're receiving letters from us that are intended for someone else, please get in touch to let us know and we'll investigate. Our team will find the correct address for the person we're looking for.

Recognising if a debt is yours will help you to get your finances in order and beginning a payment plan with Lowell is the first step. We're here to help our customers, so if you think that something's not quite right please let us know, and we'll do everything we can to get it cleared up. For more guides on debt and working with Lowell, head to our debt guidance hub or check out your next steps.

First published: 25th June, 2021