The last few weeks have left several companies owing apologies after it was confirmed that debtors were sent letters from fake law firms threatening legal action against them.
First in June, Wonga was fined £2.6 million after sending debt chaser letters threatening legal action from made up law firms “Chainey, D’Amato & Shannon” and “Barker and Lowe Legal Recoveries”.
This subsequently caused the Student Loans Company to suspend all use of its fictional debt collection agency “Smith Lawson and Company Recovery Services”. The fake firm had been chasing graduates who had fallen behind on their repayments. It has been claimed that hundreds of thousands of ex-students may have been misled by the system.
Then on 3 July it was confirmed that Lloyds bank had been using the above “Wonga” style tactics to chase its debts by placing the heading “SCM Solicitors”, formerly Sechiari, Clarke and Mitchell, in letters demanding repayment of debts even though the firm was dissolved in 2011.
In response to the “Wonga” letters, the Law Society has called on police to look at whether Wonga committed an offence of obtaining pecuniary advantages by deception and blackmail, as well as other offences under the Solicitors Act 1974. Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry also tweeted that she has written to the Financial Conduct Authority supporting the Law Society’s intervention.
In any case, we will be waiting with interest in the coming weeks to see whether it is confirmed that other companies have been using the “Wonga” style tactics.