People are at risk from fraudsters masquerading as enforcement agents (bailiffs) and small businesses are a popular target, according to the civil enforcement industry’s trade body Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA).
The warning comes after CIVEA identified cases of fraudsters using the government’s public register of enforcement agents to demand payments for bogus government debts. The details of certificated enforcement agents are used to put pressure on people to pay quickly saying that costs will go up if they delay. They threaten to visit within hours with a locksmith.
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said: “We want to protect people from bogus bailiffs who are using legitimate certificated agents’ details. These fraudsters appear very convincing, but do not be hurried and always check before making any payments.”
CIVEA has provided some guidance on avoiding being a victim of a bogus bailiff:
- Do not pay over the telephone unless you agree you owe a debt and you are satisfied you are dealing with a certificated enforcement agent or agency
- Ask for a Head Office number for the company he or she works for and ask for details of the debt that is owed
- Ask the enforcement agents for a case reference number and check with the court, if necessary
- An enforcement agent will not visit without giving at least 7 days’ notice, and you will probably receive further letters, emails and text messages
- All enforcement agents are approved by the court and will be happy to show you their certificate
- Always request photographic ID before making any payment
- Visiting enforcement agents will have electronic documents with details of the warrants of court orders
- If you receive one of these calls report it to Action Fraud and receive a police crime reference number, by calling 0300 123 2040 or using our online fraud reporting tool.