MOTORISTS ARE warned to be on their guard for a phone text scam that threatens a visit from bailiffs and then fleeces them for a non-existent parking fine.
Consumers across the country have received text messages from a company calling itself UK Bailiff Services, say Croydon council.
The text messages, usually sent on a Sunday, state: “To avoid bailiffs coming to your property tomorrow, please visit www.bailiffs-gov.co.uk.”
The text also provides a reference number and pin code enabling access to the site, at which point the consumer is presented with a “parking fine” of about £80, although there is little, if any, detail as to where the alleged contravention occurred. Consumers have reported that, in some cases, the date of the “contravention” has been as long as a year ago.
Adding credence to the demand, the text often includes such information as the consumer’s name, address and telephone number, as well as the vehicle registration number, and make and model of car. Payment is asked for via credit/debit card through the website, or by Ukash voucher.
“The website has now been taken down, but the company was falsely using an address of Centre Tower, Whitgift Centre, Croydon CR0 1LP. “Residents should be alert to the possibility of similar websites being launched” said a spokesman for the outer London borough.
Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety said: “This is, quite simply, a scam, and anybody receiving such a message should not part with any money – and certainly not with a Ukash voucher, which, unlike, a cheque, cannot be stopped.
“Any legitimate parking-fines company will write to you, provide evidence of the contravention – for example photos, or give you an opportunity to view CCTV footage – and allow a period of time to appeal the charge.
“Worryingly, the scammers have been able to get hold of genuine information, which makes their scam a little more believable. “We understand that they’ve obtained the data from car-buying/car-selling websites, that have sold the data on.”
Any Croydon borough resident who suspects they may have been targeted by this, or a similar, scam should part with no money, and should phone Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.
(Source: Croydon council press release)