Companies attacked for 'potentially misleading' debt collection letters

Banks and utilities are facing criticism Credit: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

A string of banks and utilities have today given details of how they sent letters to customers under other names.

This is a practice that is being criticised by some consumer campaigners and MPs as potentially misleading.

The letters were sent to customers as part of debt collection - and the criticism centres on concerns that they may have alarmed customers who may have wrongly thought the debt had been handed over to a separate collection agency or to lawyers.

The organisations concerned deny that there was anything misleading.

Here the facts ITV News has now confirmed:

  • Barclaycard used "Mercers Debt Collection"

  • Anglian Water used "Frontier Debt Collection"

  • RBS used "Green & Co"

  • HSBC used "DG Solicitors" what is now Lloyds Group used "Blair Oliver & Scott"

  • Scottish Power used "Sterling Collections"

Barclaycard say they were clear in the first paragraph of letters that Mercers was a registered company in the Barclays Group.

They have now changed policy and debt collection is done under the Barclaycard name. Anglian Water says it has never sent letters impersonating solicitors or law firms.

Frontier was a trading name of Anglian Water – made clear in all correspondence .

They say they stopped it of their own volition last year.

RBS say their letters clearly explained that Green & Co were in house solicitors employed by them.

HSBC says letters from DG Solicitors complied with debt recovery rules and made it clear that it was HSBC's in-house firm of solicitors - it stopped the practice in January.

Lloyds Group say Blair, Oliver & Scott is a wholly owned subsidiary as a debt collection company the bank never represented itself as a firm of solicitors.

Scottish Power tells us all customer communications referencing Sterling Collections clearly state that its a trading name of Scottish Power.

All firms say they made it clear and there was no intended deception - well thanks to all this publicity is certainly clear now.

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