When you borrow money from a creditor it is agreed that you will repay what you owe over a set period of time.

However, should you fail to stay on top of your payment schedule and find yourself in arrears, your creditor or creditors may pass your debt on to a different company to collect on their behalf.

Dealing with debt is stressful but it can also be confusion, especially when you receive a letter from a company you’ve never heard of asking you to make payments to them instead of who you originally borrowed from.

If you receive a letter like this, it is what’s known as a Notice of Assignment (NOA). They are sent to inform you that a third party has bought a debt that you owe from the company you borrowed it from.

If your debt is assigned to a third party, they will then take over the collection of the debt and will sometimes hire a collection agency to work on their behalf.

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Types of assignment

There are two types of assignment that a creditor can make – legal and equitable.

They both fall under the Law of Property Act 1925 and both require the creditor to notify you of the change in writing.

It also isn’t possible to assign only part of a debt to a third party. If a creditor is ‘selling’ your debt, they need to sell the debt in its entirety.


A legal assignment gives the purchasing company the power to enforce the debt. You will also then make payments to this company instead of the original creditor.


When a debt goes through an equitable assignment, it is only the amount owed that is transferred. In these instances, the purchasing company cannot enforce the debt and the original creditor will still retain their original rights and responsibilities.

Why do creditors sell debts?

One of the most common questions asked when a notice of assignment is received is why? Why have they sold it and how can they?

The answer is that it is perfectly legal for them to sell your debt to another company.

When you sign a credit agreement there will have been a clause within the fine print. This will have stated that they are able to assign their rights to a third party.

As you have signed for this, they do not need to ask your permission to ‘sell’ the debt and you are unfortunately unable to dispute it.

The only exception to this rule is if the lender pledges to the Standards of Lending Practice and you have given evidence of mental health issues previously. In these instances, your debt should not have been sold and you should seek advice on this.

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What does a Notice of Assignment mean for you?

If a creditor passes one of your debts to a third party, they will notify the credit reference agencies that they are now responsible for the collection. You will notice that the name will change on your credit report and that any defaults will also be registered in their name.

Many people often find that having a debt being passed to a third party is a blessing in disguise. The new company might be easier to deal with or be more flexible when it comes to the interest and charges, giving you more scope to pay back your debt quickly.

Ultimately, getting your debt paid off is in both yours and the creditors best interests. Agreeing to a manageable payment plan gives you some breathing space and it can often mean they won’t need to take any further action against you.

It’s also worth noting that this also does not reset the six-year period for the debt to become statute-barred and debts that are already in this category will remain as such.

Assignment and debt collection agencies

Sometimes, the purchasing company will employ a debt collection agency to act on their behalf or the debt will be purchased by an agency themselves They will take over the full rights to the debt and attempt to collect it from you in full.

As such, they will contact you by letter, phone calls, texts or emails. It also means that they can take further action against you should you continue to default on the account.

However, unless it is stated otherwise, debt collection agencies only work on behalf of a company. The purchasing company will still own the debt, although some collection agencies do deal in debt purchasing also.

It’s also important to remember that although they can contact you for payment, they still have to abide by creditor etiquette. They cannot pretend to have certain legal powers or lie to you, break data protection laws or search for you on social media.

You’ll likely find that debt collection agencies are often open to negotiations, so it is always best to contact them as soon as possible when they contact you for payment.

Assignment and debt solutions

If you are already in some form of debt solution such as an IVA, Trust Deed or a DMP that is run privately by a company, you must notify the company running your agreement.

They will make the necessary updates to their records and contact the company to arrange payment to the new company.

If you are managing your own debts, you will need to cancel any payment to the original company and set up a new one to the purchasing company or debt collection agency. In this instance, you may be asked to show them an up to date state of affairs in case any changes need to be made.

If you’re receiving notices of assignment and struggling with debt collection, call Carrington Dean today on 0808 301 9819. Their expert advisors are on hand to give you free confidential advice and help you find the right solution for your debts.

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