A A Leeds-based law firm acting on behalf of a debt firm sparked an uproar after sending letters claiming recipients had unpaid debts to energy supplier E.ON.
We have been contacted by many recipients, and since last weekend BW Legal’s Trustpilot page has been inundated with people reporting receiving requests for unpaid energy bills for properties they say they don’t live in. era. Some said they never had an E.ON.
Observer Cash understands that the shipment had three separate letters. One, led by E.ON, says the recipient is liable for an unpaid gas and electricity bill.
A second letter indicates that the debt was bought by PRAC Financial, based in Barnsley, and the third that PRAC is represented by BW Legal.
In one, seen by the Observer, the recipient is informed by E.ON: “We are not aware of any valid reason why the balance has not been paid” and then warned that an account “could be generated” with a credit reference agency and the outstanding balance recorded on it.
PRAC’s second letter adds: âWe therefore urge you to take this opportunity to discuss with BW Legal how they can help you manage your outstanding debt repayment. “
Rafael Heeb, a doctoral student from Bristol, is one of those who received a letter. He said there was a balance owed of Â£ 198 which would be reduced to Â£ 49 if he accepted a ‘pre-approved 75% discount’.
After spending hours on the phone with E.ON, he says he was told that the âdebtâ had been sold by E.ON to PRAC. However, the energy company told her that it had been registered in the name of the “occupant” of another apartment in the same building as his own.
âI don’t know how BW Legal and PRAC managed to link my name to this account,â he says. “I was told they had my personal information from the credit referral agency TransUnion – but looking at my TransUnion search history, no such search of a company associated with the two companies in question can be found. “
He adds: âI have to prove to them that I am not responsible for this invoice. But why should I? I am an E.ON customer, my invoices are up to date and my credit account. It caused me enormous distress.
Other people who sent the letters reported the same experience, with some claiming that the bills referred to addresses where they had previously lived, but had left debt-free.
Trustpilot reviews suggest many are furious they’ve been contacted.
Observer reader Simon Jones said he had received the same letter regarding a property he was leasing. “The debt period is after we moved, the account number is not mine, and I can only assume that BW and PRAC have linked me to my current address.”
âLetters refer to credit reports etc. He adds. âI have had no contact with E.ON in the past five and a half years since we left the property – we settled the account at the time and my credit report shows that the account is satisfied. “
BW promotes itself as the UK’s largest independent law firm specializing in debt collection services and has built a multi-million pound business employing 250 people.
In a statement, BW Legal questioned the credibility of reviews posted on Trustpilot.
He said in a statement: âBefore writing to clients, our client (PRAC) requested information from offices to locate (and verify) occupants who resided at supply addresses at the time the power was turned off. provided.
âIf clients were not residing at the property between the specified periods, they just need to contact us and we will resolve the issue with them. The matter would be closed and this client would no longer be contacted about the debt.
E.ON states: âAs a result of our own thorough attempts to collect the debt owed to us, we passed the debt owed to a third party, in this case BW Legal.
âWe have legitimately passed on the relevant ownership details to BW Legal and they have undertaken their own checks to identify who they believe owe the debt.
“However, anyone who believes they have been contacted in error and is not owed the debt should contact BW Legal, so that they can remove their debt details.”
Some recipients of the letters said they planned to report the matter to the Information Commissioner, believing their data had been misused. Others say they plan to contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
BW Legal says clients have the right to contact regulators however they want. He adds: âWe do not neglect any customer request, rather we work with them proactively to find amicable solutions. “