Be Aware of Clone Debt Advice Firms

By 9th March 2021News
Debt News

Be Aware of Clone Debt Advice Firms

When you need expert debt advice, it’s vital to make sure you’re using a reputable organisation. Unfortunately, there’s been a noticeable rise in ‘clone firms’ in recent years. These firms use altered versions of the names of legitimate debt advice companies and charities to try and scam people. For example, ‘National-Debt-Helpline’ and ‘National Debtlines’ have been created to impersonate National Debtline – a national debt advice service which is free for consumers to use.  

What are ‘clone firms’?

Debt advice clone firms have fake websites that attempt to imitate real and trustworthy companies or charities. Set up by scammers, these sites try to trick you into parting with your personal data and even your money. You might think you’d never be fooled into using one of these firms, but it’s surprising how official they can seem. Telling the difference between a clone firm and a legitimate debt advice service can often be difficult.

What’s even more troubling is that links to clone firms’ websites often appear at the top of search engine results since these scammers will happily pay money to grab people’s attention first. Once you’re on the website, all may seem well. The site may look professional and offer the debt solutions you’re looking for. They probably also display a series of positive (fake) reviews about their service. However, just because they look the part, it doesn’t mean they’re legitimate. They might have a similar name to a reputable UK debt advice company or charity,  but they may still be a clone firm trying to trick you.

What can a clone firm do with my data?

Since your personal data (including your name, address and bank details) is very valuable, there are several reasons why a clone firm might want it. One reason is that they might want to offer it to debt management companies that ‘sell’ solutions that make them money rather than helping you. These companies may not be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) either.

As well as being able to sell it to other companies, they can also attempt to access your bank account. They might also try to take out credit in your name. Not only can they take your money, but your credit rating is likely to take a hit as a result.

What can I do to avoid using clone firms?

With many people worried about their finances during the Covid-19 pandemic, the risk posed by clone firms is high. Reports of these scams are on the rise, and it’s vital that you be aware and protect yourself. Firstly, you should check the web address is correct. For example, if you’re looking for Debt Assist UK, but the address isn’t debtassist.co.uk, you could be dealing with a clone firm. You should also check the FCA register. Debt Assist UK is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Be aware of clone firms when seeking the debt advice you need. Not only could you be scammed into giving away your personal details, but you may also receive incorrect advice that makes it harder to deal with your situation.