Water Rats: Company Sends Out Wonga-Style Debt Letter- Sunday Mirror Newspaper- Exclusive News Story- ***Last Week***

A customer of South West Water contacted us after feeling he had been unduly threatened after receiving a letter that looked to be from a debt-collecting agency.

In truth the letter was from a subisdiary of the water company itself.

Our source wanted us to warn other people of the scam and we placed the story in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

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A WATER company is threatening struggling customers with letters deliberately made to appear to be from a debt-collecting agency. 

South West Water is using tactics similar to the approach of controversial payday loan firm Wonga. 

The water company sends warnings from a firm called Source Collections Ltd saying legal proceedings will begin if outstanding amounts are not paid. 

The letters give the false impression that the two companies are separate and that the customer's file has been passed to a recovery firm. 

But Source Collections is a subsidiary of the water firm, whose profits have leapt nearly 11 per cent to PS162million. 

 

Source Collections claims to be run from a PO Box address in Worthing, West Sussex. But we can reveal the account is "dormant" and the firm is registered to South West Water's Exeter headquarters. 

Letters from the recovery firm - carrying an SCL masthead for Source Collections Ltd - warn that if outstanding sums are not cleared over the phone it could result "in your account being passed back to South West Water who may commence legal proceedings to recover this debt". 

They add: "If you are currently facing any financial difficulties or are in receipt of benefits, special arrangements can be made but you must contact us." 

A Source Collections Ltd phone number found online rings through to a South West Water call centre. 

One worried customer said yesterday: "When I opened the letter I found it really intimidating. I started imagining they'd be knocking at my door taking my possessions away. I feel the letter was misleading and designed to frighten me." 

The official Student Loans Company also chased thousands of graduates who have fallen behind on repayments through a false firm. 

The Government subsidiary reports to Vince Cable's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. 

Banks including Lloyds and Barclays also use Wonga-style bullying letters. Scottish Power and Anglian Water have also been named as alleged offenders. 

South West Water, which has six million customers, has the highest water rates in the country. 

A spokesman said: "South West Water uses different initiatives to recover unpaid bills, one of which is Source Collections Ltd, a legitimate and licensed debtcollection company. 

"The company has made no representations that it is a firm of solicitors." City of London Police are investigating Wonga under a number of headings. 

These range from the Fraud Act - which states it is a crime to make a false representation intending to make a gain or cause loss to another - and the Administration of Justice Act, which protects those in debt from harassment.



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