Action Fraud has seen an increase in the number of small to medium sized businesses being contacted by fake bailiffs requesting payments for a phantom debt.
The scam involves the business being cold called from someone purporting they are bailiffs working on behalf of a court, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt. The caller will then request payment by means of bank transfer and if this is refused, will threaten to visit the premises to recover the debt that is owed.
A range of different businesses are being targeted; including Nurseries, Manufacturers, Hotels and Taxi Services.
- Confirm what the debt is regarding; bailiffs are only used to recover certain debts such as council tax, child support and compensation orders. Bailiffs are not used to recover debts relating to private advertisement; these would be collected by debt collectors. Debt collectors do not have the same legal powers as bailiffs and will not have special court authorisation to act. For more details regarding this, please look at the Citizens Advice website.
- Double check with the Court or originating company to confirm whether the suspects are legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the suspects could still be on the line.
- Request details of the debt in writing to access its legitimacy.
- Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call.