Consumer Direct East Midlands, the government’s consumer advice service, has received a number of worried calls from local residents who, in the last week, have received letters claiming to be from a debt collection agency in the Czech Republic demanding money for an outstanding debt.
Legal proceedings, a county court judgement and the debt being referred to a UK based doorstep collector are some of the threats the company use in order to make you part with your cash. They then request you contact them immediately by phoning an international number.
The con artists hope that an intimidating letter will frighten consumers into paying a small but totally bogus debt. Consumer Direct East Midlands is warning people not to respond.
Sara Barry, Consumer Direct East Midlands Manager said: ‘Scams and rip-off money-making schemes continue to resurface in a number of different guises, but they all have the same purpose – to part you from your money. This is an attempt to scare people into sending cash to avoid further action being taken against them. Our advice would be to stop and think before you respond to any unsolicited mail. Don’t send money to anyone and don’t give out bank or other personal information. Unfortunately if you do respond to these scams, you could be targeted again.’
Consumer Direct East Midlands has these tips to help you protect yourself from scams:
- Are you the only one to receive this letter? Check with someone you know and trust like a friend, relative or neighbour – that personalised approach has probably been sent to thousands.
- Check out the company to see if it is legitimate.
- Stop and think – if you haven’t bought anything with the company that is named in the letter, how can you owe them money?
- Don’t be pressured into sending any money or calling a premium rate number.
- If in doubt, bin the letter.
- Remember there is a scam for everyone. No one is immune to them.
- It’s not always easy to spot a scam as new ones appear all the time. If you suspect you have been the target of a scam don’t be embarrassed – you’re not alone.
- If you have been taken in by a scam, don’t be ashamed. Most scams are highly professional. Report it and become a scambuster.