Bogus Enforcement Officers
In recent times, there have been increasing numbers of reports of “Bogus Enforcement Officers”, conning the everyday public out of their hard earned money. In 2017, Action For Fraud received 52 unique complaints regarding Bogus Enforcement Officers and this number is ever growing in 2018. These fraudsters’ techniques to part you from your cash are now becoming more brazen than ever.
What is an Enforcement Officer?
An Enforcement Officer is an encapsulating description for either a High Court Enforcement Officer or County Court Bailiff. A legitimate Enforcement Officer, with the authority of the court, will attend your business premises or home to enforce an order of the court. The order may be that of repossession or, in these circumstances, a money judgment. On attendance, they will inform you that, should you be unable to pay the outstanding debt, they will be removing goods and chattels to the value of the debt.
How are Bogus Enforcement Officers operating?
The Bogus Enforcement Officers are very sophisticated and persuasive in the way they operate. They will carry out a credit check on you or your company to ascertain whether there are any outstanding County Court Judgments. They will then often make contact by telephone, informing you that a warrant has been issued by the court in respect of that judgment and that they are duty bound to enforce it. The fraudsters will often provide you with the name of an official registered bailiff. They will suggest that they are in close proximity to your address and that payment of the warrant is required immediately or enforcement action will take place. A telephone number will then be provided so that you can make payment of the debt over the phone.
It is likely this conversation will leave you confused and may, understandably, cause a degree of panic. Many people will make contact with these fraudsters, using the telephone number provided, and make payment to them, believing they are satisfying the debt. You may find that the telephone is convincingly answered by someone purporting to be from the ‘Warrant And Bailiffs Office’. Once payment has been made, the fraudsters disappear with your money, never to be seen again!
What should I do?
Before you make payment of any kind to an Enforcement Officer, you need to be sure that they are legitimate and that the warrant or writ they have is genuine and endorsed by the court.
Some helpful tips to assist you in establishing whether the Enforcement Officer is genuine are:
- An Enforcement Officer will usually write to you, putting you on notice of their attendance. This will likely be 7 clear days prior to their planned attendance. If you have never received a notice, you should be questioning the Enforcement Officer’s legitimacy;
- You should make your own enquiries into the principal debt, for example, requesting details of the Judgment Creditor and contacting them to establish whether the debt does indeed exist;
- Ask for the court’s claim number. The fraudsters are often reluctant to provide this and will only give you a warrant number (which is likely to be fake). If a claim number is given, contact the court immediately to clarify details;
- Carry out a credit check on yourself to see whether the judgment order they are purporting to enforce exists. If it does, contact to the relevant court to see if a warrant or writ has been issued.
- Request a copy of the warrant or writ and seek independent legal advice.
If you are in doubt that the Enforcement Officer is genuine then do not make payment to them until you are sure. Any legitimate Enforcement Officer will have no problem with you validating, or attempting to validate, any enforcement document issued against you.
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Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.