In September 2022, the debt collector Lowell bought Hoist’s UK business, with over 2 million defaulted accounts.
Most of these debts were loans, credit cards or overdrafts from lenders such as Barclays, Egg, HSBC, Newday and Santander.
Lowell is moving over the Hoist accounts to its system. With so many accounts to be transferred, this is being done in batches.
When yours is switched over, you should be sent a letter from Lowell. The first letters I heard about were in February 2023, and there have been a lot more in March and April.
What should happen
If this all goes smoothly:
- your account should be moved over to the Lowell system
- if you have a direct debit, that should be changed by Lowell so you do not have to do anything
- if you are making bank transfers yourself or paying by standing order you will need to change to paying a Lowell account
- your credit record should be changed to show that Lowell now own the debt, but the default date should be the same as it was before
- you will get a letter from Lowell with the details including your Lowell reference number.
Not paying? Lowell will want you to start
If you ignore any debt collector, you are likely to be taken to court for a CCJ at some point. Problem debts rarely just disappear.
Your options include:
- making a payment arrangement with Lowell. See How does a payment arrangement work & is one right for you? for details. Do not offer more than you can afford every month;
- offering a token payment or explaining to Lowell that you have priority debts and cannot afford to make any payment at the moment;
- making a settlement offer if you have some spare money. These do NOT mean the default will stay on your credit record for longer, it will still drop off after 6 years. See A Guide to Settlement Offers for details.
- if you have other problem debts it is better to look at your full situation, not try to sort debts out one at a time. Phone National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
You could also think about:
- asking Lowell to produce the Consumer Credit Act agreement for the debt, see How and when to ask for the CCA;
- whether you could make an affordability complaint to the original lender. If you win that it could reduce or clear the amount owed and improve your credit record.
Can’t afford your current payment arrangement?
If you have been paying Hoist £20 a month, say, this may have been affordable when you set it up a couple of years ago. But now the rising cost of living may mean that you really can’t afford that much.
See this transfer to Lowell as a good point to review the arrangement. You may need to reduce it to £5 a month, or even nothing if your mortgage or rent or energy bills are now much higher.
So talk to Lowell about this. All debt collectors have been told by the regulator that they have to be sympathetic to people in difficulty.
But also think about taking debt advice on your full situation. Lowell may be happy to accept nothing for a while – but it doesn’t actually resolve the debt problem.
Some questions and problems
“Is this legal?”
Yes, it is. You have no right to be consulted over this or to refuse to allow your debt to be sold. The money you previously owed to Hoist you now owe to Lowell.
This sort of sale is pretty common in the debt management world. Hoist itself bought Robinson Way and Compello some years ago.
“I’m still paying Hoist – should I stop?”
You don’t need to do anything unless Lowell tell you to.
The money you are paying to Hoist is not going to get lost, it will still be credited to your debt.
“Lowell has written to me about a debt that I never owed”
This may be some form of “mistrace” where you have been wrongly identified as the person that owes the debt.
You could send Lowell a standard Prove It! letter, but I suggest you add in any helpful other details. For example, “Hoist never contacted me about this alleged debt”, “I have never had any accounts with Santander” or “You say this is a Barclaycard account, but I have had a Barclaycard for more than 10 years and have never had any payment difficulty with it.”
Don’t ignore this, it is better to get it sorted out now rather than in court.
“I can’t make a payment on the Hoist page”
If you haven’t yet had the transfer letter from Lowell, you won’t know your Lowell reference number, so you can’t just pay Lowell.
This may feel worrying, especially if you are making payments after a CCJ. But in practice, Lowell is not going to get aggressive if you miss a payment in this situation.
If you are very concerned, you could email to email@example.com explaining your situation.
“I’ve only been contacted about one Hoist account”
This is probably because the accounts are being handled in different batches. Don’t assume one you haven’t heard about isn’t being transferred, or that it has somehow got lost so you can stop paying it.
“Hoist couldn’t produce the CCA in 2019”
If you have had a letter from Hoist saying the debt has been sold to Lowell, you can ignore this.
But if you get a letter from Lowell asking you to set up a payment arrangement, I suggest you reply saying what happened with Hoist. If you have the letter or email from Hoist saying they cannot produce the CC, attach that.
If Lowell persists, send them a new request to produce the CCA.
“Lowell has asked me to pay an old debt but it’s statute barred”
You may assume the debt is statute barred if it has been more than six years since you paid it. But it isn’t always easy to tell, see Statute barred debt – common questions. If you talk to National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 about this, they have a template letter you can sent Lowell to say the debt is statute barred.
When there is already a CCJ, the debt will never become statute-barred, but it becomes harder to enforce, see next question. If Lowell say there is a CCJ, but you knew nothing about this and it doesn’t show on your credit record, ask Lowell to produce the details of the CCJ.
“Lowell has sent me a letter about an old Hoist CCJ I have never paid”
Talk to National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 about this. A debt collector can only “enforce” a CCJ that is more than 6 years old which you have not been paying if it goes back to court to get special permission.
Have you had a problem with this transfer?
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