Questions of Cash: October 2015

Posted on October 26, 2015 · Posted in The Independent

Questions of Cash: The debt they tried to collect for the goods I hadn’t bought was another case of ID

theft

Q. I read of your recent help for a reader who had a problem with a firm called Lowell Financial (Questions of Cash, 5 September).

I returned in July from a trip abroad and found two letters from Lowell waiting for me. In the first, it suggested I should send it £283.02. The second expressed disappointment that I had not paid this and threatened me with the county court.

Before I opened these letters, I had not heard of Lowell, which was clearly a debt collector. Neither had I heard of the company that I apparently owed money, JD Williams, which sells outsize ladies’ clothing by catalogue.

It seemed someone might be using my name fraudulently, so I went to the police. It transpired, through a phone call to Lowell, that someone with a similar name who lived in London had defaulted on a payment; I have been in West Wales for 25 years.

I have since had another four letters from Lowell. TB, Carmarthen

A. Lowell’s spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry for any distress or inconvenience caused to [the reader], who was the victim of identity fraud and received letters intended for one of our customers.

“Following [the reader’s] contact in July, we wrote to him on 21 August to confirm the outcome of our investigation and to offer our apologies. Unfortunately it would seem this letter never arrived.

“Our letters aim to engage with our customers, provide transparent information about their situation and outline possible next steps. The tone and content of each letter is part of a wider customer journey.

“In [the reader’s] case, initial letters were sent to our customer’s address – provided on the fraudulent credit application. Information in the application also created an incorrect link on our customer’s credit file to [the reader’s] address. This led us to believe that our customer had moved, so further letters were sent to [the reader’s] address. Regrettably this meant that [the reader] viewed our letters in isolation.”

We also contacted JD Williams, but it did not provide us with a comment.

I settled with HMRC. Now it says I owe £400

Q. I have received a P800 tax calculation notifying me that I owe HM Revenue & Customs £400, despite settling my tax for 2014-15 online and even receiving a refund.

My online self-assessment form has clearly not been linked with my PAYE record on which the P800 demand is based. Is it common for the online self-assessment system and the PAYE system to fail to talk to each other? JL, Kidderminster

A. We contacted HMRC and you can now ignore the P800 calculation, which was issued in error. Your tax records have been updated and your self-assessment and PAYE records are now linked.

As you pay tax by PAYE, you do not meet the normal criteria for self-assessment. As a result, your records were closed by HMRC once your refund was processed. When this happened, the link between self-assessment and PAYE records were broken.

You completed the self-assessment form for the 2014-15 year voluntarily because of a large personal pension payment, which temporarily met the criteria for self-assessment.

Online store wanted sensitive details

Q. My daughter wanted to buy a pot plant for her grandmother’s birthday. I suggested a gift voucher for the plant as she lives five hours away on the train.

Granny uses the Wyevale Garden Centre in Woodbridge, Suffolk. I selected a gift card on its website but could not find a way to buy it without registering – a process that involves providing personal details such as gender and date of birth, which are irrelevant and could provide information for online fraud.

I feel we are being “coerced” into giving out all kinds of personal details if we want to shop on the internet. MW, by email

A. Wyevale Garden Centres is currently upgrading its website. When this goes live in the spring of next year, you will be able to make transactions without providing your date of birth and other unnecessary information.

Skype won’t help me remove an intruder

Q. I have had a Skype account for many years, and the company is well aware that I own the account. It contacts me when I change my password to verify this.

A couple of weeks ago a Skype user approached me and requested I add them. I do not know them, so I refused and blocked them. The next day I discovered that this person’s Skype ID appears beneath mine.

I have contacted Skype customer services at least four times, receiving the response that the ID cannot be removed until I answer a long list of questions. I have done this repeatedly but still the hacker’s ID continues to appear beneath my name.

I charged my account recently with a considerable amount of credit. But Skype suggests that I delete my account and open a new one.

I have a list of friends and family on this account, as well as the credit. VB, London.

A. Skype says the matter is now resolved and defends the actions of its staff. A spokeswoman said: “We’ve worked directly with [the reader] to verify her account information and ensure no fraudulent activity has occurred on her account.”