Tuesday, 06 November 2018 11:03

Fake Bailiff Telephone and Text Scams

Action Fraud are warning UK based consumers and businesses to be aware of a new type of financial scam, fraudsters claiming to be bailiffs are sending SMS messages or making calls to targets across the UK in the hope of pressuring them to pay fictitious debts.

The scam sees victims receive texts by the fraudsters about the fake debt, claiming that they will "attend your address for resolution" if payment of the imaginary debt is not made.

Some of these texts include limited contact details for the fake bailiffs, but many do not and these latter messages are causing fear and confusion as people genuinely believe a bailiff is coming to seize goods. We have received hundreds of calls over the last 18 months from concerned members of the public who have received text messages similar to those described below and they do cause genuine concern.

If you have received one of the messages below then do not panic, as our investigations show these messages are spam/fake and we have received no reports of any of the promised visits occurring.

Example texts

An example of some of these types of messages that we have seen are below:

  • "We have tried to contact you regarding your outstanding arrears. We will be attending your address for resolution before escalation to CCJ/Collections"
  • "We have tried to contact you regarding your outstanding arrears. We are attending your address for resolution on [DATE] before escalation to CCJ/Enforcement."
  • "We have tried to contact you regarding your outstanding arrears. We will be attending [POSTCODE] to carry out enforcement/collections."
  • "This is an important message for the immediate attention of [YOUR NAME] only. Multiple attempts to contact you have failed. Enforcement agents will be attending [HOUSE NUMBER] [POSTCODE] imminently for immediate resolution."
  • "This is an important message for [YOUR NAME] only. We have failed to contact you to resolve your outstanding balance arrears. This has now been passed on to enforcement and collections. Enforcement agents will be attending [HOUSE NUMBER] [POSTCODE] on [DATE].
  • "DO NOT IGNORE. This is an important message for [YOUR NAME]. We are attending [HOUSENUMBER] [POSTCODE] within 7 days to resolve balance or list goods for removal. If you are in any legal / asset / debt protection scheme, please have relevant documentation available."
  • “Our client has instructed us to recover the balance owed to them as detailed below: Case ref: [REFERENCE]. Please make payment in full within 7 days to avoid further recover action. Your possessions may be listed for removal. Enforcement & Collections team will be attending [HOUSENUMBER] [POSTCODE] within 7 days to. To avoid further recovery action, please make payment in full.”
  • “DO NOT IGNORE. IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR THE ATTENTION OF [YOUR NAME] ONLY. Our client has instructed us to recover the full balance due to them reference number [REFERENCE]. Enforcement agents will be attending [HOUSENUMBER] [POSTCODE] this week to recover balance in full. Your possessions may be listed for removal. If you are in any asset, legal or debt protection scheme, you will need to have any proof or documentation readily available”

These messages all originate from numbers that cannot receive replies and some of the names we have seen to date include: "RECOVERIES" "TL COLLECT" "SL COLLECT" "ENFORCEMENT" "URGENTRQD".

Many of these messages also re-use the same reference number in numerous texts and to date we have seen references including: "RDCZ17492" "RCV17529" "8743687373".

How to spot a fake

Thankfully for the recipients, these types of actions are easy to distinguish from those of a genuine Bailiff, High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) or even debt collector. 

A genuine Bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer will never:

  • Send an anonymous text message.
  • Cold call and demand immediate payment over the phone "to stop enforcement".
  • Refuse to confirm the name of the creditor or the reason for the alleged debt.
  • Refuse to provide contact details for the company, hide the name of the company or the names of its agents.

A Bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer will always:

  • Write by normal 1st class post to the enforcement address before any visit takes place.
  • Carry identification to confirm their identity and the identity of their employer.
  • Carry sufficient documentation to confirm the judgment is valid and provide details, including the court claim number, when requested.
  • Leave a sealed notification of attendance if they have visited an address in an effort to secure payment.

These messages seem designed to scare people into taking action, but unluckily for the scammers the service they are using to send these texts is unable to receive replies. Again these texts are not genuine and we have spoken to hundreds of recipients and not one has been visited by any enforcement officers or bailiffs. 

If you have received a nuisance or spam text you can report it to Information Commissioner here and consumer group Which? recommends that you "report spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider free of charge by forwarding the text message to 7726. All operators now use 7726, with the exception of Vodafone who use 87726."

Remember. If you are in any doubt as to the validity of the claim being pursued or you have doubts about the company or people "collecting" it, then we would recommend you do not pay anything.

If someone does attend your address and attempts to collect goods or money without paperwork do not admit them and call the police on 101, or 999 if you feel threatened or intimidated. Genuine Bailiffs and Enforcement Officers will welcome the attendance of the police and will not seek to dissuade you from contacting them. Nor will they refuse to provide the Court Claim Number as this will allow you to verify if a judgment exists with the court.

More details on what a bailiff can and can not do when they visit an address to collect can be found on the .gov site here or the Citizens Advice service here

Please note that we at Safe Collections do not send unsolicited text messages to anyone and we do not conduct any home visits. These message did not originate with us.

This article was updated 06.11.18 to include additional text examples and links to Which?

This article was updated 29.01.19 to include an additional text example including a name.

This article was updated 14.05.19 to include an additional text example.

This article was updated 07.10.19 to include an additional text example and names of apparent companies involved.

This article was amended and rewritten 08.06.2020 to include additional examples, expand the advice and provide further reassurance.

Image "Evidence" from "Picserver.org" used in accordance with CC by 2.0
Last modified on Monday, 08 June 2020 11:38
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