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How to Spot a Fake County Court Letter?

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated July, 1, 2022

If you’re wondering how to spot a fake County Court letter and avoid a scam, there are certain cues that can immediately give away a fraudulent attempt.  

Still, since most people go through their life without ever being served a CC letter, it is difficult to distinguish if the document or email you got is authentic or not. 

Read out to find out what to look for to avoid a CC letter scam and what you can do if you receive one.

What Does a Fake CC Letter Look Like?

In September last year, the HM Courts & Tribunals issued a warning to UK residents about scams related to CC letters.

Scammers posing as County Court bailiffs sent fraudulent ‘Notice of Enforcement’ emails to companies and private residents, claiming they have a debt that they need to pay.

The fake County Court claim form insisted that the “debt” needs to be paid “immediately” to avoid seizing goods and that the money you pay would go to a ‘Court Appointed Legal Advisor’.

The email also featured a sort and reference code, account number, and even a bailiff charge.

You can see an example of what a fake court letter in the UK looks like here.

The scammers would then follow up with a phone call (or more), using technology to mimic an official phone line.

You may be interested in: What Happens if I Ignore a CCJ?

How Can You Spot a Fake County Court Letter?

Although it can be hard to differentiate between a fake CCJ letter and an authentic one, there are some things you can look for to figure out if the letter is real or not.

The first thing you can do when you receive a CC letter is to check your credit report. Bailiffs can only pursue a debt after a CCJ (County Court Judgement) has been registered, which will show on your credit report.

Another thing to keep in mind is that bailiffs mainly deliver documents in person.

They might send a letter of enforcement to inform you that they’re going to visit your home or ask you to pay a debt, but they don’t ask for immediate payments and have to give you at least seven days to settle the debt

If you believe that you received a fake CC letter and a bailiff arrives at your home, ask them to see the court stamp and the signature of the magistrate. Refusal to show any form of identification or a certificate and failure to reveal relevant information about the collection agency is a strong indicator that you’re probably dealing with a scammer.

What Can You Do If You Receive a Dodgy Email or Phone Call?

If you receive suspicious emails or calls from someone you believe is posing as a bailiff, you can call the HM Courts & Tribunals Service and ask if you have outstanding debt and if they have been trying to contact you.

Avoid clicking on any links, phone numbers, or any media in a mail that looks fraudulent or coming from a sender you don’t recognise. You can check to see if the email is authentic by searching for it online or on the government’s official website.

Alternatively, you can check your credit report to find out if there’s a CCJ against you.

If you’ve fallen for a scam, you can report it to Action Fraud.

What County Court Bailiffs Can and Can’t Do

Most bailiff scams can be easily avoided if you know what bailiffs can and cannot do, whether online or in person.

Court bailiffs will not:

  • Take money from you on the spot. Instead, they will give you the number to the County Court so you can pay the debt by debit card. 
  • Ask you to transfer money into a bank account.
  • Give you pre-filled court forms.
  • Make multiple calls in a short period.
  • Send emails asking for immediate payment.

If you declare that you cannot (or will not) pay the debt, bailiffs can

  • Take belongings from your home, such as luxury items, like a game console or a TV.
  • Force their way into your homes to collect unpaid criminal fines.
  • Take things from outside your home if you do not let them in.

Bottom Line

Figuring out whether a CC letter is fake or not can be tricky, but not impossible if you know how to spot a fake Country Court letter and what to look for. To avoid falling for a scam, it’s important to be aware of some of the red flags like multiple calls in a short time span or refusal to offer proof of identification and information from a person that claims to be a bailiff. 

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.