I’ve just had warning from the excellent WMNow system (you can sign up here – it’s free and very useful) that there’s a very convincing scam in operation I think readers should be aware of – and will be wanting to warn their elderly and vulnerable friends, family and neighbours about.
It seems scumbags are cold calling people with basic details (the kind of stuff you can easily get publicly) and using the information to personate debt collectors who are chasing a payment for a non-existent debt.
West Midlands Police wrote:
Victims receive a telephone call from someone purporting to be a bailiff enforcing a court judgement, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt. The fraudsters state the debt originates from the victim not paying a magazine advertisement subscription.
A variety of magazine names and publishers are being used by the fraudsters, who also commonly use the names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents such “Scott Davis”, “Stephen King” and “Mark Taylor”. These are names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents employed by debt enforcement companies.
The fraudsters request that the debt be repaid by bank transfer. If the victim refuses, they threaten to visit the victim’s home or place of work to recover the debt that is owed.
Once the money has been transferred, victims are not provided with receipt details of the payment or contact details. Later when victims make enquiries, they’ll discover that the debt did not exist, and often that no advertisement was placed.
This type of fraud is nationwide. Since 2017, there have been 52 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud. From the reports received, there are a range of different businesses and individuals being targeted.
- Listen to your instinct: just because someone knows your basic details, such as your name and address, it doesn’t mean they are genuine.
- 2. Stay in control: always question cold callers: always contact the companies directly using a known email or phone number.
- 3. Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision: a legitimate company will be prepared to wait whilst you verify information.
If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Please tell your relatives and neighbours about this scam, and impress upon them how important it is not to give away dpersonal details on the phone to cold callers. If in doubt, get details, call companies back and have someone else check them out before making any kind of payment for anything.
Explain that no official body will turn up at your door or call you demanding money – even with bailiffs and debt collectors there is an extensive procedure beforehand.