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“English Commercial Register” Fraud

16th December 2016

english-commercial-register-letter

Ignore the letter

One of our clients received this letter, and was understandably concerned – this letter has left some businesses thousands of pounds out of pocket. Business owners should be worried by this letter, but not for the reasons that you think.

These letters are spam letters sent out by a Spanish publication firm, threatening businesses with being struck off a “Commercial Register” unless they pay €993 up-front. There are no such commercial registers though, and if you are our client, we will inform you immediately and directly if your company is at any risk of being struck off.

The only two actions you should take are:
• Ignore the letter – do NOT respond to it.
• Immediately report the fraud to fraud@companieshouse@gov.uk

Why?

This “publication of companies” has nothing to do with the Companies Registrar at Companies House, which is the only and official companies register for companies in the UK. Companies House explicitly states that these letters “are not connected to, or endorsed by, either Companies House or GOV.UK”. Further, “the fee requested is not required to keep the company registered at Companies House”.

This is true for companies in Wales and Scotland as well, where businesses have reported similar similar letters. There is no separate official register for companies that were registered in Wales; they too only have to have their details filed with Companies House. Companies registered in Scotland need to record so, but again they need to record their details with Companies House only. The latest flare-up started there, with letters spreading in November threatening removal from, of course, a made-up ‘Scottish Commercial Register’.

This scam seems to have been going on for a while too. Companies House tweeted confirmation that this scam has nothing to do with them, but this was back in April this year. It flared up again a few months later, with stories about the Welsh Commercial Register arising in June. That alerted it to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), who are now warning businesses of the scam.

Reporting the fraud

The NFIB’s advice is to never respond to these letters. HMRC advise reporting all such cases to fraud@companieshouse@gov.uk , including the full details of the fraud, plus your contact details. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have further commented that “any unsolicited contact followed by a request for an advance payment/fee is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you”. They strictly advise that in this case, “do not pay”, and to never disclose your bank details.

If you are in any doubt, or have any concerns about the above, you should seek advice from your accountant. We are happy to assist with any concerns about this matter, and can be contacted at 020 7488 3614, or any of the other contact details presented on the website.