How can Ovo send debt threats when I don’t even have an account?

I am being warned my credit rating could be impacted when I have never had an account with it or any of the companies it owns

Can you can help me resolve a problem with Ovo Energy? I spent a year working in Ireland, and, during that time, I had mail redirected to my dad’s address in Scotland.

When I returned to the UK, one of the letters was from Ovo demanding I settle an overdue bill for £1,690. I have never had an account with Ovo or SSE Energy (Ovo bought SSE’s retail arm in 2020), or even lived with my father at this address.

I tried to explain all this but I am being chased by a debt collection agency for the unpaid bill, which is now £2,121. The email I received warns that Ovo shares its data with credit reference agencies, and the debt “could impact my credit rating”.

To wipe the account, Ovo is asking for documents that I simply don’t have. This seems a ridiculous amount of stress to cause someone who has never held an account with it or any of the companies it owns.

PS, by email

Ovo Energy is no stranger to this column and, after we contacted it on your behalf, the debt collection activity was halted, and the account erroneously set up in your name now has a zero balance.

The confusion – if I can generously call it that – comes from how the billing is managed. Though your father has lived at his address for nearly a decade and pays his bills on time, his account remains under “the occupier”.

His supplier used to be SSE Energy Services, and you were wrongly added as the named account holder when the account was migrated to Ovo (it bought SSE’s retail arm in 2020).

Ovo says: “The home is owned by PS’s father, and the account remained under ‘the occupier’ until PS’s name was added. We have stopped all activity under his name and advised his father to register as the named account holder.”

This is not the first case I have dealt with where the problem stemmed from an unnamed account, and I think it is an unnecessary complication, especially when things go wrong.

Nonetheless, the bills were being paid for this address, so it does not seem beyond the wit of man to join the dots before sending threatening letters.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

Contributor

Zoe Wood

The GuardianTramp

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