Police in South Yorkshire have seen a rise in the number of debt fraud scam phone calls. Following a surge in reports, Police have warned members of the public to be on guard against phoney debt collection phone calls.
The scam involves callers posing as debt collectors, bailiffs or enforcement agents and claiming to be recovering funds for a debt which doesn’t exist. They ask for payment, sometimes by bank transfer, and if refused will threaten to visit the victim’s home or workplace to recover the non-existent debt.
Due to an increase in these scam phone calls, South Yorkshire Police posted a warning from Action Fraud, the national crime reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime reporting. The warning provides the following guidance for people who think they may have been targeted:
- Make vital checks if you ever get a call regarding debt and make a note of all details provided to you. Bailiffs, for example, should always be able to provide you with a case number and warrant number, along with their name and the court they are calling from.
- A bailiff must always identify themselves as a court bailiff and show a card with their photograph and identity number which they must carry to prove who they are. They will also carry the physical warrant showing the debt and certified with a court seal. If they have not provided this, ask to see them before going any further.
- If you work for a business and receive a call or visit, never pay the debts yourself on behalf of the business you work for; always be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Some scammers have suggested employees make payment stating they can then be reimbursed by their employer when in reality the debt does not exist.
- Double check with the court, company or public body they claim to work for to confirm whether the call is legitimate, especially if you are unaware of any debt or do not have debt. Also be sure to independently search for a telephone number to call; never use a number provided by the caller without carrying out your own research.
- Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call. Tell them you will call back and listen to your instincts.
- If you know you have a debt, keep in regular contact with your creditor and are sure to establish the debt type at the earliest opportunity if you are not aware. This will help you to understand who might be in contact with you regarding any repayments.
- You can report suspicious calls like these to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 123 2040.