Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fife Gingerbread were left shocked this week when one if its long standing volunteers received a distressing letter from Concentrix, a company contracted by HMRC, demanding personal information be sent to them or risk tax credits being stopped.

The cold, almost threatening letter accused the lone parent of having another adult living with them, which in this instance is a false accusation, however it is up to the recipient to prove this is not the case by sending evidence such as bank statements, mortgage statements, council tax statements, gas and electricity bills, and court or solicitor letters with legal separation details.

Understandably, this incorrect allegation had the volunteer worried, upset and confused. They had never heard of Concentrix before, and considered it may in fact be a scam of some sort. They took the letter to Fife Gingerbread, who done some investigating and found out that Concentrix are part of a multi-billion pound US business services company who have been hired by HMRC to conduct tax credits checks, using automated systems to carry out searches of financial records.

Rhona Cunningham, Fife Gingerbread Strategic Manager said “This is the first time we had heard of someone receiving a letter from Concentrix, and we are shocked to see such a harsh letter being sent to lone parents, who are often very vulnerable and not able to deal with the demands. What makes it worse is that it’s not even sent directly from HMRC, it’s sent on their behalf, adding to the worry that it may be a scam”.

The three page letter begins by declaring in bold writing ‘Please send us all the information we ask for by (30 days). If we don’t hear from you by this date we may reduce or stop your tax credit payments’.

It then goes on to state ‘You have made a tax credit claim as a single person, but we have information that there may be another adult living with you…We need some information to check whether you should be claiming as part of a couple’, before demanding a long list of evidence covering the past twelve months be sent to them for investigation.

The lone parent who received the letter said “I don’t understand why I have received this or have to provide such personal information. My circumstances haven’t changed in the last year, so it feels like they’re just fishing for false claims”

Rhona added “Gathering this evidence and sending it to Concentrix undoubtedly causes massive stress, and Concentrix fail to provide information for how recipients can get support with their demands. We urge anyone who gets these letters to not ignore them, and contact Fife Gingerbread or our partners at Citizens Advice and Rights Fife and we will do all we can to help”.

If you have received a letter from Concentrix you can contact Fife Gingerbread for support on 01333 303124, or visit your local Citizens Advice and Rights Fife drop in session.