Protect yourself from new wave of imposter bailiffs and fraudsters, warns CIVEA.
In the month that the Government announced its Fraud Strategy, the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) has warned of a spate of scams using information from the Ministry of Justice to dupe people into paying money to fake enforcement firms.
CIVEA, which represents civil enforcement agencies, has received 16 complaints this year from people who have paid fake fines to fraudsters posing as enforcement agents.
This month, the fraudsters were identified using a new name. This is the third time the company name has changed name, but the scam is identical. Notices of Enforcement are sent from Debt Recovery Solutions, Court Enforcement Bailiffs (aka CEBG Legal) and WIRO with demands for payment of unpaid parking debts. The letters replicate Notices of Enforcement issued by the courts that instruct civil enforcement agents (bailiffs).
In response, CIVEA is reminding the public that each genuine case will have a unique reference number from the court, which will be on all correspondence. Case numbers can be checked directly with the company in question or against any previous correspondence. The advice from the industry is, if there is an unwillingness or a refusal to confirm the correct case number, terminate the conversation.
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of CIVEA, warned: “The scam uses genuine names of enforcement agents taken from the Ministry of Justice Bailiff Register, which gives the impression it is authentic. The scam is designed to intimidate and cause great distress, as well as bringing legitimate enforcement agents into disrepute. Anyone turning up without identification is not a certificated agent and anyone asking you to transfer money may be a fraudster.”
CIVEA member firms may call them to discuss a warrant of control and will offer to take debit or credit card payments over the phone. But a legitimate agent will never ask for bank details, sort codes or account numbers to complete a bank transfer.
CIVEA has taken steps to advise the individuals concerned that their details are being used and CIVEA has alerted the Ministry of Justice and debt advice charities. CIVEA has also received correspondence from Ammar Bashir of Court Enforcement UK who is named as an owner of this company. Mr Bashir is aware his details are being used fraudulently and has advised that he has no knowledge of the company, and he has also reported the matter to Action Fraud.
CIVEA member firms will not authorise an enforcement visit without prior notification. Therefore, it is essential to update the enforcement firm of any change of address, and legally you must inform the DVLA if you own a vehicle and change address.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam you should report the matter immediately to Action Fraud online or on 0300 123 2040.
Notes for editors:
Examples of the fraudulent letters are available.
CIVEA represents approximately 40 companies that make up more than 95% of the entire enforcement industry. CIVEA’s members work to enforce civil debt on behalf of local authorities and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) including council tax, business rates, road traffic and parking penalties, magistrates’ court fines, employment tribunal awards, child support payments, B2B and commercial rent arrears. This amounts to over £550 million (half a billion) of unpaid taxes and fines recovered each year at no cost to the public bodies themselves. Each year CIVEA members receive c5 million warrants and court orders for payments owed to central and local government.
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