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Bogus operators

A selection of the different types of bogus claims that have been carried out.

Bogus claims management

Since April 2007 it's been an offence for those offering claims management services in areas such as personal injury, bank charge refunds and endowment mis-selling to work without authorisation or an exemption - check the Claims Regulation web site to see if providers are authorised and to report complaints about those working inappropriately.

The Ministry of Justice has also produced a guide to the regulations called 'Claims Management Regulation: what you need to know'.

Operators of bogus competitions ...

  • inform you that you have won a prize - even though you can't remember entering a competition - via the post, email, fax or over the phone;
  • invite you to claim your allocated prize by phoning a hotline number for which you will be charged at a premium rate of up to £1 or £1.50 per minute;
  • tell you, in very small print at the bottom of the notification, that the call is likely to last about 9 minutes!
  • may ask you to send an "administration fee" to process your prize;
  • claim that the 'prize' may be of high value, like a holiday, car, TV, music system, although it's more likely to be a plastic pen or piece of cheap jewellery.

If you know about a bogus competition circulating in your area ...

Tell us - it may help us to stop them and protect other people.

If the competition is linked to a premium rate telephone number you can also contact Phone-paid Services Authority .

Bogus 'debt repair' companies

If you have been approached by a credit repair company or seen advertisements for credit repair services, beware. Debt service providers who charge an up front fee or ask you to call a premium phone number are often bogus - after all, it is people with poor credit history and debt problems (past or present) who can least afford to pay up front for such services (or the large phone bill). Some so-called credit repair companies act as a 'cover' for a finance broker or lender who wants to sell you a loan. What's more, you can actually improve your credit history without paying for assistance.

Companies that offer you the chance to clean up your poor credit history or restore your credit rating should be approached with caution, especially if they charge an up front fee or have a premium phone number. You can repair your own credit file without using the services of a credit repair company.

County court judgments cannot be removed from credit files unless they have been discharged or were incorrectly granted. Unsubstantiated claims that a court summons was not received or that correct procedure was not followed will not persuade a court to remove a judgment from its records. It is possible to check for yourself what is on your files and request that corrections are made if the information is incorrect.

Request a copy of your credit file from the Credit Reference Agencies: Equifax and Experion. If anything on there is incorrect, you can request that it is removed but will need to prove any errors. The Consumer Credit Act 1974 gives you the right to have incorrect information corrected or removed from your file or have a note put on the file which explains why you think the information is wrong.

Request cancellation of a CCJ if you have paid the debt within a month of it being granted. This is the only way to have a judgment cancelled and removed from your credit reference file and court records. However, the history of the debt will probably not be removed from your file, whether it's been paid or not. If you pay off a CCJ after one month of it being granted, you can apply for a 'Certificate of Satisfaction' to be added to your credit reference file.

Bogus discounts on household goods

Some disreputable stores con shoppers by advertising goods like carpets or three piece suites with huge discounts when in fact they have manipulated the before and after sales prices to create false reductions. Some 'Sales' are also extended past the 'Must End Today' deadlines that are advertised to pressurise consumers in to buying before the 'sale price' is increased.

Always ...

  • look at the actual selling price rather than the amount of discount especially when shopping for expensive household items like furniture, carpets or electrical goods;
  • check the small print in promotional material to ensure the reduction is genuine;
  • shop around and compare prices to get the best deal.

Operators of bogus homeworking schemes ...

  • usually rip off those people least able to lose money, such as pensioners, one-parent families or the unemployed;
  • advertise in local or national newspapers. They also put notices on lamposts, local buses or in shop windows. They may also put a leaflet through your letter box;

Typical scams may involve:

  • Addressing and stuffing envelopes where you need to send a registration fee up front. Usually all you get for your money is worthless advice on how to place adverts like one you responded to. It's not a real job, just a scam to con you out of money;
  • You send off money for home assembly kits. When completed, you should be paid for your work plus the fee you originally sent. However, this rarely happens. You are told that your goods are not up to standard and just end up out of pocket. They may even try to sell you another kit.

Bogus mobile phone cashbacks

Cashback is a widely used customer incentive in mobile phone industry. Offers of up to £1,000 cashback are used to lure customers into signing mobile phone contracts. All too frequently these deals are too good to be true! Many consumers complain that they don't get their cash and are left tied into high-cost contracts with the networks.

Last year, several mobile retailers went out of business owing 60,000+ customers an estimated £12m in cashback deals. The lesson for customers really is one of awareness. If you're thinking of opting for a cheap mobile phone deal, do some research and try to find a reputable company. There are lots of review sites on the internet, and many other customers will have posted their experiences of these retailers' customer service and ease of use.

That should hopefully give you some idea of how likely it will be that the company will honour their side of the deal. And do the maths - remember that for a company to be viable in the long term they have to make some money too - if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Bogus Ticket Touts

With huge demand for gigs all round the country, it's no surprise to find tickets on the internet at hugely inflated prices. Consumers pay an arm and a leg to go to a live gig, but sometimes they get their tickets, sometimes they don't. Trading Standards services receive hundreds of complaints about ticket touts each year.

Consumers spend hundreds of pounds on event tickets but the tickets don't arrive. Purchasers are told to meet a representative from the company at the venue on the night to collect their tickets. Often, while the rep is there, the tickets aren't. It can also be very hard to get a refund.

Many ticket reselling companies have no links with the official ticket distributors or venues. They make their money by buying up highly sought-after tickets and re-selling them for as much as they can.

When tickets are sold on in this way it's called a secondary ticket market. The problem is that unscrupulous touts sell tickets they haven't actually got, and can't guarantee they'll get. If you're buying over the internet, you can't see whether they have the tickets or not.

To avoid disappointment, consumers are urged to only use office distributors or book direct with the venue. If the total price of the tickets is more than £100 consider using a credit card to give added protection if the seller breaches their contract with you.  

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 03 Aug 2017 at 09:50