1. Do not panic
Do not immediately comply with the demands of the letter/document, write an angry response, or destroy the letter in the hope that the issue will go away.
2. Keep good records
Keep a note of when you received the letter and any accompanying documents.
3. Check to see who sent the letter.
Research the individual or company to see if they have a website or are registered on Companies House. Search the contact number and/or email address on the Web, does it appear legitimate? Have others taken to the Web to complain about similar scams?
4. Look carefully at the content of the letter.
Does the letter look legitimate? Are there spelling or grammatical mistakes that might indicate the sender is not located in the UK? Has the sender clearly explained the legal basis of the claim?
5. Consider whether you should notify your insurance company that you have received a legal threat.
Failure to do so may mean you are not covered in the event that the claim is legitimate.
6. If court documents are enclosed, ring the court to be certain they are legitimate.
You should comply with any timescales given by the court as a failure to do so could result in you losing the right to defend the claim or further costs incurred/awarded against you.
7. Review the situation and the facts.
Write down everything you know about the situation.
8. Check whether the letter or documents specifies a time by which they expect you to comply with its demands.
If the sender expects immediate compliance, and you need time to investigate the claim, consider writing to the sender advising that you have received the correspondence and need time to consider and respond to the claims made. Give them a date by which you expect to be able to provide a response – and keep to it.
9. If the letter is from a debt collection agency, check on the Web to make sure they are legitimate.
Do not be immediately alarmed by threats to visit you personally. Only county and high court bailiffs have any powers of enforcement. The rest cannot require that you let them in your home/premises.
10. Take action (or not).
If the letter or documents appears legitimate, take legal advice. This may help determine whether you should i) do nothing more; ii) defend the claim; or iii) prepare for a hearing (if one has been scheduled). Alternatively, if you are satisfied the letter or document is legitimate – call their bluff.
11. Contact ActionFraud.
If a scam is suspected, contact ActionFraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre.
To find out more information about litigation fraud and how to identify it please visit our hub page. If you need advice about suspected litigation fraud, or a previous case, then our specialist team will be happy to help.