Watch out for this latest scam

April 27th, 2018
27 April

The scammers of the world are out there right now planning to relieve you of your hard-earned cash. You know it and I know it – but we also think we know what a potential scam looks like.

The days of the email from Nigeria giving us the good news that we are about to receive a large sum of money are more or less behind us now. They have been replaced by boiler room share selling operations, online criminals getting between solicitor and client to intercept cash transactions, virus hoax messages (just enter your credit card details) and messages from friends abroad who need money urgently following a road accident.

However, this is a new one on me – people have been receiving telephone messages to make unscheduled and unnecessary calls to the Insolvency Service using (of course) a premium-rate telephone number.

The Insolvency Service is an executive agency of the Government and is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I work closely with them and they are a pretty unflappable bunch. Even so, they obviously feel the need to issue a statement about this scam so people, including accountants, are aware.

The Insolvency Service says this is a new scam where members of the public are receiving telephone messages to make unscheduled and unnecessary calls to the Insolvency Service. The article is here.  Not only are unsuspecting members of the public being asked to make unnecessary calls but they are being asked to dial a telephone number that although it does connect to the Insolvency Service, is not one of their official numbers and is a premium-rate number that costs a lot of money.

So that’s the clever bit – the number does actually connect to the Insolvency Service. So while you are on the line trying to figure out with them what the problem is you are racking up a large telephone bill. The scam appears to be instigated by, a website based outside of the UK, which provides direct telephone numbers of businesses in the UK but, when used, cost the caller a lot of money.

Also, be wary of doing a Google search for the Insolvency Service’s number – don’t use a number from the first few entries on the first Google page that may be flagged as [Ad] followed by a website address.  This is a paid for advert (which the Insolvency Service doesn’t do) on Google that automatically appears at the top of the page – you could be calling a premium rate number or indeed someone other than the Insolvency Service!

So look, if you’re being asked to call the Insolvency Service but you are not going through a bankruptcy or insolvency matter be very careful as it could be a scam phone call. Take a look at the number you’re being asked to call – if it looks like it’s a premium rate number (particularly 0345 or 0845) then it almost certainly is not legitimate.

If you’re still unsure about the number, check the official Insolvency Service website here to see if it is one of their numbers.  Their numbers usually begin with “0330” or “0300” and the general enquiry line for the Insolvency Service at April 2018 is 0300 678 0015.