Fife charity's advice after volunteer receives '˜distressing' tax credits letter
A Levenmouth-based family charity has issued advice to parents who may have recently received a '˜distressing' letter which might appear to be a scam.
Staff at Fife Gingerbread were left shocked when one of the group’s long standing volunteers received the letter from Concentrix, a company contracted by HMRC, demanding personal information be sent to them or risk tax credits being stopped.
The letter, which the charity described as ‘cold, almost threatening’ accused the lone parent of having another adult living with them.
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.”
As well as asking the recipient to prove they are living along, the three page letter also warns that if the recipient doesn’t respond within 30 days, their tax credits could be reduced or event stopped.
The Fife Gingerbread volunteer, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “I don’t understand why I 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 (CARF) and we will do all we can to help.”
A spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC, and Concentrix on our behalf, routinely carry out checks on tax credits awards to make sure people are receiving the right amount of money and identify erroneous or fraudulent awards. It is right that we take great care to make sure correct payments are made and prevent customers getting into debt, which they may struggle to repay.
“When there is reason to believe someone’s award may be incorrect we, or Concentrix, will write to them and allow 30 days for a reply. If a customer has difficulty supplying the information needed, they should contact Concentrix who will work with them to find alternatives.”