Fraud officers are warning of an increase in the number of fake calls targeting businesses.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, has seen a increase in the number of small to medium sized businesses being contacted by fake bailiffs requesting payments for a phantom debt.
A range of different businesses are being targeted, including nurseries, manufacturers, hotels and taxi services, said Action Fraud.
The scam involves the business being cold-called from someone claiming to be a bailiff working on behalf of the courts, 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.
The centre warns that people and businesses must protect themselves from such scams.
A spokesperson said: “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.
If you suspect a call, double check with the court or originating company to confirm whether they 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,” added Action Fraud.
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.
If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk