I have been in dispute with Lowell for a long time now regarding a default on my CRA files
that is not mine and has been proven by the FOS not to be mine
I received the final decision (below) from the adjudicator but still feel that it is not enough
and really want Lowell to pay for what they have done.
£500 seems a small amount.
I just wished I was in US as a woman their sued one for $83 million and won for the same thing.
Should I accept it?
complaint about: Lowell Financial Ltd
date of decision: 15 November 2015
Mr C complains about court action by Lowell Financial Ltd for a debt that isn’t his.
Mr C’s address was first linked to a person of the same name in 2009.
This affected his credit file with several credit reference agencies.
Mr C believed the issue had been resolved in 2014 after he first complained to Lowell.
In April 2015 Mr C received court papers from Lowell relating to a different debt which doesn’t belong to him.
Mr C complained again and Lowell investigated.
Lowell accepted that a mistake had been made.
Lowell explained that it had put procedures in place in 2014
to stop Mr C being connected to their customer of the same name.
However, Lowell had passed this debt to one of its sister companies which wasn’t aware of the history.
The legal action was later discontinued and Lowell offered Mr C £250 compensation
for the distress and inconvenience he’d been caused.
But, Lowell said it couldn’t remove the link to its customer on Mr C’s credit file.
It said this could only be done by the business which had created the link in the first place.
Mr C wasn’t happy with the compensation offered by Lowell.
He has also continued to get texts from them.
Our adjudicator recommended that the complaint should be upheld.
As Lowell accepts Mr C isn’t connected to any of its accounts,
she said Lowell should remove the record from Mr C’s credit file.
She also recommended £450 compensation for the inconvenience and upset caused to Mr C.
Mr C was still unhappy with the compensation recommendation.
He says it doesn’t take into account the financial impact this has had on him.
Mr C says he has been forced to take a loan at an exaggerated rate
and he would like the cost to be taken into account.
He also says he hasn’t been able to get a mortgage and has been denied credit.
Finally he says he’s been denied the opportunity to earn a higher salary
because the default prevented him from getting security clearance.
I’ve considered all the available evidence and arguments to decide what’s fair and reasonable in the circumstances of this complaint.
I have taken into account the information sent to us by credit reference agencies
and by the business which first created the link.
The lender which created the link between Mr C and its former customer
with the same name has explained that its customer’s account defaulted in March 2010.
The lender then passed the debt to an outside debt collection agent.
This is when the mistaken link to Mr C’s address seems to have been made.
It’s not clear how this happened as the debt collector is no longer trading.
The lender thinks there might have been a ‘mis-trace’.
The lender says it then updated its records with Mr C’s address
before selling the account to Lowell in January 2013.
At this point it deleted its entry with credit reference agencies.
As Lowell is now the owner of the debt the default is registered by Lowell.
The credit reference agencies also say Lowell is the data controller for the account
and is responsible for sharing the information with them.
As the data belongs to Lowell, the agencies say they can’t independently remove or change the information.
One of the agencies has also told us that Mr C made contact in July 2014 to challenge the record.
The agency says it contacted Lowell but Lowell wouldn’t agree to delete the link.
Lowell said the information was correctly registered because the address details had come from the original lender.
The agency says it will remove the link if Lowell confirms the information is wrong.
It’s clear that Lowell wasn’t responsible for creating the link.
But, I’m satisfied that Lowell is now responsible for maintaining the entry on Mr C’s credit file,
which it knows to be wrong.
Lowell knew in January 2014
– when it dealt with Mr C’s first complaint - that Mr C wasn’t connected to its customer.
Therefore, when the credit reference agency contacted Lowell in July 2014,
it should have authorised correction of Mr C’s credit file.
Similarly, when it passed the debt to its sister company it should have known that the address was wrong.
I don’t agree that it’s Mr C’s responsibility to contact the credit reference agencies.
He’s already tried this unsuccessfully.
Lowell’s response is surprising and unhelpful, particularly as it’s accepted all along that Mr C
and its customer are unconnected.
For these reasons,
Lowell must now instruct all credit reference agencies to delete its account altogether from Mr C’s credit file.
Lowell must also pay Mr C compensation for the upset and inconvenience it’s caused him.
I consider an award of £500 to be fair in all the circumstances.
Mr C says Lowell’s mistake has caused him financial loss as well so he’s entitled to more compensation.
But, having taken everything he’s said and provided into account, I don’t agree.
I have noted that Mr C has taken a loan at 16% APR.
But he hasn’t shown that a similar type of loan was available at a lower rate from a different provider.
If Mr C had been denied cheaper credit
I would have expected to see searches on his credit file from those creditors.
But there are none
In fact, Mr C says his partner took out loans for home improvement
and furniture in her name because she had a better credit rating.
I accept this might have been inconvenient, but it isn’t evidence of financial loss.
Mr C also claims he wasn’t able to apply for a number of jobs
because his security clearance was suspended until Lowell removed the default.
He says the suspension was lifted when Lowell confirmed there’d been a mistake in February 2014.
Mr C has forwarded an email from a colleague threatening suspension of his security clearance.
This email was sent in March 2014.
Therefore it implies Mr C had security clearance until then.
Also, the email is not specific about the information Mr C needed to provide
to prevent his security clearance being lapsed or suspended.
In any event, I’d also have to consider that Mr C’s job applications might have been unsuccessful for other reasons.
Therefore, I can’t award compensation for loss of salary expectation.
my final decision
For the reasons given, my final decision is that I uphold Mr C’s complaint against Lowell Financial Ltd.
I direct Lowell to instruct all credit reference agencies to delete its account from Mr C’s credit file.
Lowell must also pay Mr C £500 compensation for distress and inconvenience caused.
Under the rules of the Financial Ombudsman Service,
I’m required to ask Mr C to accept or reject my decision before 15 January 2016.