There are many types of fraud, including identity theft, loan scams, tax evasion and so on. Sometimes you might not even know you committed fraud until you are left with a debt to repay for someone else’s mistake. This article explains what to do if you are a victim of fraud and provides general advice on fraud.
What should I do if someone is using my name for debts?
This is fraud so you need to report it to the police. A common example of this is if someone orders goods in your name through a catalogue and then fails to pay for them. Any creditors you are aware of need to be informed of the situation and it would be advisable to obtain a credit report to gain details of any other debts that have been put in your name. If you have suffered financial loss as a result of this situation you would be able to sue the individual or company in question.
Please note if the court has already issued a judgment that states that the court is happy that you owe the money, then this means that you have been ordered to pay the debt off. If the creditor then decides that they may take further enforcement action and ignore the original court judgment, then you will have to prove that a crime has been committed against you.
Have I committed fraud?
If you are worried that you may have committed fraud or are under investigation then you should take legal advice as benefit fraud is a criminal offence and can result in prosecution. Some commons examples of fraud are using someone else’s address for your accounts, using someone else’s name/identity or even lying about personal information (i.e. age) on legally binding contracts or forms.
Should I let someone else use my mailing address?
The biggest issue with letting anybody use your mailing address is usually going to be the hassle involved. Sorting out someone else’s junk mail, the space it takes up in your mailbox and your house, having to meet them on their schedule so they can retrieve mail, having them calling to check if certain mail has arrived, having to pay any postage they don’t pay, etc.
They will also be committing fraud if they apply for any bank accounts or other forms of credit using your address.
A bigger issue with anyone using your address as their own is that somebody is going to be under the impression they live there. If that person turns out to owe money or have involvement with any unsavoury characters then their drama may very well end up at your front door, because whoever has the issue is actually under the impression that somebody else lives there.
You increase the risk of something happening to you too by willingly allowing anybody not residing with you to use your mailing address.
Can I stop someone from using my address for unpaid debts?
You can’t stop that person from claiming they live at your address, but you can take some actions to prevent this.
If you receive any communication regarding their debts then you can return to them with a note saying that this person is no longer a resident at your address or you can provide a forwarding address. The difficulty with all of this is that they will continue to pursue that person for the debt and their situation will steadily get worse until some form of resolution is found.
If that person is able to speak to a debt advisor they will, as a short term measure, be able to introduce some control and should be able to find the best method of dealing with these debts in the long term.
Also if any bailiffs or enforcement officers come knocking, you can let them know and even show proof that this person does not live here and they are falsely using your address. For more information read our article on how to remove someone off the electoral roll.
Can I claim compensation for mistaken debt?
If you feel that false debts have been registered against your name, you need to contact the two credit reference agencies, Equifax and Experion. You need to ask for a copy of your credit record. Then you can highlight which of the false debts have been registered against your name and ask to be financially disconnected from this person.
If you have also been issued a CCJ by mistake, then you will need to seek legal advice on how to reverse the CCJ that has been issued incorrectly.
Who can I contact about fraud?
If you believe that a crime has been committed against you, that a fraudulent act has taken place, then your best starting point may be to contact ActionFraud. They can also offer advice on fraud and how to proceed. If it cannot be proven that this has taken place then your other option could be to take legal advice on how to pursue them to pay back the debt they have incurred in your name.
If you lent someone money and are worried about how their debts will affect your credit rating, you can visit CIFAS website where for £20 you can add a protective registration on your credit report.
This won’t prevent you from borrowing in future but will act as an alert to lenders that you are vulnerable to identity fraud and will require them to take additional steps to protect you.
If you think that fraud has occurred in your company but you were not involved or aware of this then you should not be held responsible, but you should report it. I would suggest you contact ‘Business Debtline’ for further free advice.