Questions of Cash: February 2014

Q.  I have received a letter from Lowell Financial claiming that I owe them £383.86.  This was a debt that Lowell bought from the mobile telephone company O2.  The letter indicated that I had received a notification from O2 stating “you were recently informed that your 02 (UK) Ltd account was sold to Lowell Portfolio 1 Ltd because there is an outstanding debt…”.  There was no such notification from either O2 or Lowell and no such debt is owed by me.  This appears to be a calamitous case of mistaken identity.  The letter from Lowell appears to list an O2 account number which is not mine.  I have written to both O2 and Lowell Financial, but have yet to receive a reply despite the urgency – I am being threatened with court action in a few days to reclaim the debt.  I am also concerned that my credit rating will be compromised.  MA, London.


A.  You are correct that this is a case of mistaken identity, which seems to have originated from several frauds committed using your identity.  O2 sold to Lowell the debt for another customer with an identical name, but did not provide Lowell with your address details, nor did it link that other account with you.  However, when Lowell checked your credit reference with Experian, it found a linkage between your address and that of the other person of your name.  It seems that your name was used fraudulently in 2008, with your current address quoted as a former address in loan applications to two lenders.  In total, there appear to be eight loans issued in your name, without your knowledge or approval, on which there are lodged defaults.  In addition, the O2 debt sold to Lowells used the same current address as those used on loans that are in default.  It is therefore understandable that Lowells sought recovery of this other O2 debt from you.  Experian has now corrected your credit reference and shared this correction with the other credit reference agencies, Equifax and Call Credit.  This means that there should be no further attempts at collecting this fraudster’s debts from you, nor should your credit reference be adversely affected.  Experian requests that you work with its ‘Victims of Fraud’ team to investigate the matter further and correct the records held with various companies in which your name was used fraudulently.


Q.  You responded to a reader (Questions of Cash, 29 November, 2013) who had been contacted by Stern Levenson offering to connect him to some lost investments.  The reader mentioned that he had various old shareholdings, which included Blue Arrow.  You reported that Blue Arrow was subsequently bought by Manpower.  We bought 1,305 Blue Arrow shares in 1988.  Over the past five years Stern Levenson has periodically contacted us about

“an unclaimed entitlement as a result of a shareholding”, valued in the region of £3,800. I have tried myself to track down Blue Arrow and Manpower, but without success.  Can you help?  DH, Wirral.


A.  The share registrar for Blue Arrow was Lloyds, whose business was transferred to Equiniti.  Equiniti told us that Blue Arrow became Manpower plc in April 1990 and this company was acquired by the US company Manpower Inc in May 1991.  Manpower Inc is now the ManpowerGroup, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange.  According to the company’s website, shareholders with queries should phone +1 201-680-6578.  We did this and were told that the registrar for ManpowerGroup’s shares is ComputerShare.  It can be contacted by post at Computershare Investor Services, P.O. Box 43078, Providence, RI 02940-3078, US.  You should then be able to get an updated share certificate and make a decision on what to do with your holdings.


Q.  In December 2012 my cousin and I flew from New York to Cambodia, via Tokyo and Singapore, flying with Delta Airlines and SilkAir, which is Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier.   On one leg of these flights, three of our suitcases were lost.  Under the Montreal Convention, the last carrier – Silk Air – is responsible for providing compensation to a maximum of $1,131 per person.  We completed our claim forms, but SilkAir will only provide compensation of $400 for my cousin and $200 for myself.  My claim was for more than $4,600 and my cousin’s was for more than $7,000.  AC, by email.


A.  We resent giving up on a case, but we are stumped.  Silk Air ignored our correspondence, but we eventually obtained responses from Silk Air via Singapore Airlines.  SilkAir has consistently refused to settle your claim, stating that it has no proof that your bags were not collected and also requiring copies of bills for all items that were lost – a request that we (and you) regard as impractical.  Singapore Airlines states: “Upon review, SilkAir has confirmed that it has not been possible to substantiate the claims made by [the reader] and his travelling companion due to the fact that records show the bags were uplifted onto the aircraft and that no bags were left unclaimed on arrival at the flight’s destination.  As per SilkAir procedure, including for situations where luggage may have been incorrectly claimed by other passengers, an interim payment of USD100 per customer has been provided for the inconvenience caused. Consequently, unless additional details to assist in verifying the claim can be provided, unfortunately any further amounts must be sought from the customers’ travel insurance providers.”   Very unwisely you did not take out travel insurance, so you cannot make an insurance claim.  We hoped Delta Airlines might assist us, despite it having no legal responsibility for the loss of the bags, but it did not reply to our correspondence.  We also sought help from the Civil Aviation Authority, but it was unable to assist as you do not currently reside within the UK.  We seem to be beaten.  Your only avenue appears to be to sue SilkAir, which is not an attractive option.  If there is a next time, take out travel insurance – and perhaps use different airlines.


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