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Companies House: How to spot and scam and report it

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The increased threat from scam and fraudulent activity has prompted Companies House (21st June 2021) to provide updated guidance on What to do if you think you’ve spotted a scam pretending to be from Companies House, giving stark examples of scam emails, letters and telephone calls.

Companies House report examples that include businesses and individuals being contacted and asked for payment of a late filing penalty over the telephone, people claiming to be from Companies House requesting details of their company’s directors or asking for authentication codes.  Spurious emails containing official looking documents as attachments or phishing emails, one claiming that hundreds of phone calls and emails have been sent in your company name asking customers to click a link to see what type of information has been sent. 

Companies House advise that they never contact you by telephone to find out who your officers are or ask for secure information. If anyone calls claiming to be from Companies House asking for this information – their advice is to try to get a return telephone number and contact them immediately on 0303 1234 500.

If you receive a suspicious email, you should report it to Companies House via

“At Top Service we are now seeing more and more potential fraud being reported from bone-fide company details being used without their knowledge, to fake companies being set up to obtain goods fraudulently and an increase in scam calls and emails claiming to be from official companies in particular Inland Revenue, Companies House and rogue collection officers is a real threat. At Top Service we urge our members and the wider construction industry to minimise the risk of fraud by carrying our formal checks before providing company and personal information to any third party or when providing goods on credit, it is vital to not just ask and record details but verify them and check, check, check.” Emma Miller, Company Director at Top Service Ltd.

What to check and how

Check phone numbers, dial them or use the internet to search for any reports of misuse. Once a fraudster has received the information they need, leaves your depot or takes delivery that is likely to be your last contact with them. Is the telephone number ringing and is it a normal tone? If it goes to the answerphone, is the mailbox full? This is a sign that messages are not being returned. Why would an active business not return and delete messages?

Send a confirmation email – we hear of so many people whose initial suspicions to fraud are raised when they email the invoice and the email bounces back. Check it first – a confirmation email thanking the customer for their application or order can help to pre-warn you of any problems and is also customer service friendly so your customers will see this a great customer service tool!

The internet opens a lot of avenues to carrying out non-intrusive checks. Look at the addresses you have been given, are they active trading addresses (as opposed to a mailbox)? Is it a residential address when you would expect it to be a business address or vice versa? There could of course be perfectly legitimate reasons for having numerous trading and / or delivery addresses but taking the time to check could be what will save you! Never allow goods to be cross loaded to unidentifiable vehicles waiting at the delivery location.

Search the business name and or directors / proprietor / partners names with other suppliers you may come across out of area news reports or other information that will help you.

Using a credit application form is the easiest way to ensure relevant and appropriate details of the potential customer are being taken. It doesn’t have to be long winded or lengthy, simply take the basic details you need to open a credit account and protect yourself:

Company Name AND Registration No
The entity of business if not Limited
Names of key people in the business
Contact numbers & email addresses

Using a credit application form is one thing but the key to protecting yourself is in the detail and checking the form and information provided for any anomalies is where you will be able to protect yourself the most. Use a credit reference agency to check you have been approached by a bone-fide company.

  • Check the Directors of the Limited company and see if they have a lot of either active Directorships, resignations or insolvent companies.
  • Use your credit reference agency to look at the trading history of the business, have other suppliers experienced non-payment or made enquiries about potential fraudulent applications.
  • Where you can, make a physical visit to the customer or potential customer if something doesn’t feel right to you. 

If you already have a trading history with the business, look at the orders that have previously been placed. Some fraudsters will establish a good line of credit with suppliers, placing small, regular orders to give the appearance of a good customer. Once an order pattern starts to change, ask questions to establish the reason for the change.

In short:

  • Confirm the details on the application are true, using credit information, the internet or ID checks
  • Check the condition of the business applying for goods on credit
  • Is the order consistent with past transactions or as you would expect it to be?
  • Satisfy your gut feeling and if you can’t, assess the risk and if needs be decline the application.

Testing is also important. It will help to ensure new processes and current processes are providing the protection you need. Internally, submitting a fictitious order or application will help you to track if you are getting the desired outcome.

What if you are a victim of fraud?

Report it – Call 101 or report to Action Fraud 
Share it – Sharing your experiences is the quickest way to stop fraudsters in their tracks. Talk to your trade association or industry specific credit information agency who will be able to make others in your industry aware.

For further information or support relating to fraud prevention or anything else relating to credit management please contact us:

Top Service Ltd
Tel: 01527 518800

2-3 Regents Court
Far Moor Lane
B98 0SD