DESPERATE families are being ripped off by rogue firms who promise to WIPE OUT their debts - then sting them for MORE cash.

The scandal is growing so fast in credit-crunch Britain that already this year an astonishing SIXTY-ONE dodgy companies have been BANNED by government watchdogs.

Claims management firms offer to help people take legal action over financial problems. Many are honest, but an increasing number are preying on the poor by saying they can exploit a legal loophole to clear CREDIT CARD debts or MORTGAGES.

Experts warn that in most cases people cannot wriggle out of their debts - and will end up WORSE OFF because the management fees are non-refundable.

The claims cowboys often get families to shell out around £1,500. Many charge up to £500 just to review a case, then demand even more if they win.

Some fool customers by suggesting they are almost certain to get debts written off with spurious adverts such as: "Eighty per cent of credit agreements are unenforceable", or "We'll get your credit cards written off within six weeks!"

But Sue Edwards, of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: "These companies seem to be offering an easy way out to struggling people but in many cases it'll just make their debt problems worse."

A clampdown this year has resulted in 70 per cent more claims firms losing their licences so far, compared to 2008.

Justice Ministry regulators say the figures reflect their success in detecting wrongdoing.

But they warn: "They also show the problem is growing. Any breach of rules is investigated and action taken."

ANYONE with a genuine complaint can get free help from the Financial Ombudsman Service or at Citizens Advice offices.

And the Ministry of Justice has set up a hotline to report dodgy companies. You can call their investigation team anonymously on 0333 200 0110.

Desperate families are being ripped off by dodgy claims companies

IT sounded too good to be true when a cold-caller offered to clear Denise Silverstein's £3,000 mortgage debt with a "sure-fire" legal challenge.

And it certainly was - for what the crafty claims salesman didn't know was that 62- year-old bookkeeper Denise had already paid off her debt.

The company wanted £50 up front, plus 20 per cent of any cash saved.

Luckily Denise, pictured, of north London, was not taken in. But she said: "It's a horrible scam. I'm sure they have conned other victims."
This article has 6 comments

I think we're being a bit harsh on these claims companies. I know for a fact there are bogus ones out there, but also that there are one or two very good ones that offer a valuable service to the consumer. I was approached not so long ago by one who were able to provide the name of their solicitors and also provide evidence of cases that had been won in court thus proving their service works. So what I would say is, be carefull, ask questions, but certainly don't tar all claims companies with the same brush!

By Neil. Posted June 23 2009 at 10:43 AM.

Unfortunately, it seems that we cannot rely on 'The System' - because The System is not actually on our side, methinks. It is on the side of Fred Goodwin and those who can successfully bring a bank - and its' clentéle - to its' knees, and take a massive handshake for so doing. - Those who can rip off their constituents with fraudulent expenses claims, and then attempt to run our country.

Us mere peasants have to educate ourselves by sharing our hard-earned wisdom with each other - as Denise Silverstein has done here. Knowledge is power. Those who are prepared to share their knowledge increase that power exponentially, I believe, and the plethora of self-help forums which have come into existence over the past few years is evidence of that. We are empowering each other, I believe. It's no easy ride - but nobody said it would be. Just getting on the damn horse and riding the critter - instead of letting it ride us - is the way to go, I reckon.

By Bill-K. Posted June 23 2009 at 1:57 AM.

Claims companies should be asked a number of question before plunging for any service, two important question are if they do a 'no win no fee' deal and who are their solicitors, if they tell you they have panel solicitors or dont offer a money back guarantee the chances are that they are bogus!

By Jobe. Posted June 22 2009 at 12:34 PM.

These companies pray on people's desperation, the system should tackle the issue more closely, often these companies are owned by the same idividuals who often as soon as one company is declared illigal they simply create a new one.

There are genuine companies out there, and possibly people with money issues are better off by talking to the citizen advice bureau who would be able to advise them on the best companies out there....

By John. Posted June 21 2009 at 9:44 PM.

A company from abroad rings me on a weekly basis demanding I allow them to transfer me to a uk claims advisor. I say no and they still dont get off the damm phone, dont you want to save money, you like to waste your money, is what they throw at you. I told them the line was tapped and bt were monitoring they replied they didnt care and would not be stopped even by the uk police, I rang bt who just wanted to charge me 11.99 to block what they said was unblockable. Why cant bt take responsibility for all these scam calls getting through and block them for free, then no one conned. BIT of a Turner round in the neighbourhood - Anthea's moving into Chris Evans's old gaff.

She and hubby Grant Bovey have snapped up the pile for £5million - securing £1million off the asking price.

The couple have already flogged their lavish Surrey mansion for £10.6million, making an £8.4million profit.

So they'll still trouser £3.4million after downsizing to Radio 2 DJ Chris's four-bedroom home. But they'll have to do without a few luxuries such as a polo field and heli pad.

Last night a source said: "For them it's a come-down, but for most people it's still the stuff of dreams."

Anthea, 48, and Grant, 47, were forced to sell up after the collapse of his £100million property empire and their company Imagine Furnishings. Yet 75 unsecured creditors of the firm are still owed nearly £400,000.

Their new place is part of the 172-acre Hascombe Court estate in Godalming. It has four en suite bathrooms, a home cinema, stables and a three-bedroom guests' cottage.

Chris moved out last year after wedding third wife Natasha Shishmanian, with whom he has a four-month-old son Noah.

Just Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, Chris.


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