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Applying for breathing space? Make sure you’re dealing with a professional adviser

12 May 2021

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is warning individuals applying for the new ‘breathing space’ scheme to ensure that they check any organisation or individual offering this service is registered to do so prior to handing over their details.

Under the new Debt Respite Scheme, individuals receiving debt advice can apply for a break of up to 60 days from additional interest and charges being applied to their debts. However, Breathing Space can only be initiated by debt advice providers authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to offer debt counselling or local authorities which provide debt advice to residents.

Cifas is reminding those looking to apply for a Breathing Space break to check the FCA’s Financial Services Register to ensure that any firm or individual offering this service is regulated to do so before handing over their personal and financial details. Once the register has been checked, those seeking help should only contact the provider offering the service using details listed on the FCA register to ensure the authorised adviser isn’t being impersonated.

Cifas has previously warned of a WhatsApp scam with messages purporting to be from The Money Advice Service asking recipients to send bank statements, payslips, ID and letters from creditors. It is likely that any details or documents provided in such scams will be used to impersonate the victim to set up new credit facilities or take over existing accounts.

If you do believe you have fallen for a scam and have provided your details or documents, report the case to Action Fraud, or to Police Scotland if you are Scottish resident. You should also consider applying for a Protective Registration with Cifas to protect yourself from being impersonated with any Cifas member organisation.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said, ‘Scammers are quick to take advantage of any new situation where they believe they can trick an individual out of their details or money. When it comes to providing debt advice, the FCA’s Financial Services Register provides a single source of businesses and advisers that are authorised to offer financial advice to those who need assistance.

‘With many individuals in these circumstances potentially feeling vulnerable, it is important they take extra steps to ensure they are dealing with legitimate sources of assistance and can trust those who are helping them.’

Notes to editors

About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention service. We lead the fight against fraud by sharing data, intelligence and learning. The organisations that collaborate with us are drawn from all sectors, operating in both the public and private sectors working together to stop fraud. A full list of our members can be found on our website.

Organisations that work with Cifas, contribute to and benefit from the UK’s largest databases of fraud risk data and intelligence. We are committed to the principle of collaboration, which connects and drives our community, and enables the sharing of:

Data
We enable the secure sharing of high quality, trusted data to fight fraud. Our databases are the most comprehensive and diverse sources of fraud risk data in the UK.

Intelligence
We provide research and dynamic intelligence that influences the threat picture and strengthens the response against fraud.

Learning
We are a leading provider of accredited education and trusted training.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team
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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

Contact us at press@cifas.org.uk

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