Company Has Used My Address for VAT Registration

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I received a letter from HMRC saying a company had successfully registered for VAT: and for some reason, used my home address.

I have no connection to this company or the director (only one according to company's house).

It seems a legitimate company, or at least was at some point: their products are stocked on many retailer sites (I can see this just from a quick google search).

I tried contacting them to enquire, thinking this could be some sort of mistake, but they have refused to cooperate which can only lead me to believe this is fraudulent.

I have reported to HMRC and Action Fraud: the latter basically said they likely can't do much as it's not a police matter / serious until or unless I suffer some sort of loss...

Is there anything else I can or should do?

Replies (27)

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stonks
By WinterDragon
07th Mar 2024 14:12

Sorry to hear of your circumstances. I had a client have a fraudulent company registered in their name to their address and it took 8 months for the company to be struck off after we informed companies house.

Telling HMRC and going to actionfraud is likely all you can do but wait to see if anything happens. You could try contacting your MP in the hopes they might be interested but the system is as it stands is not fit for purpose for preventing fraud.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
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By FactChecker
07th Mar 2024 15:55

Whatever it is that Action Fraud are meant to do is not clear ... but what is clear is that they will do absolutely nothing, not even log your report, "unless you suffer direct financial loss".

When a similar thing happened to me (identity theft in order to fraudulently open bank accounts in my name at my address) ... they weren't interested in any losses suffered by anyone else (I could only report 'my' losses) and, after a lengthy interview, they refused to log a report on their system because I hadn't suffered any direct loss (just time, worry, etc) because I'd acted so quickly.

No idea what 'Action' their name covers but it certainly doesn't cover prevention!

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RLI
By lionofludesch
07th Mar 2024 14:12

Action Fraud are useless.

They have no foresight at all. Here's a red flag. Action Fraud ignore it.

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VAT
By Jason Croke
07th Mar 2024 15:25

It's clearly fraudulent if the VAT registered address is your address and you are nothing to do with the business.....although this happens an awful lot.

As long as you write or email HMRC and advise them this is fraudulent, then nothing much else you can do. At some point, HMRC may well write to you demanding outstanding VAT due and may even send debt collectors to your home to collect the VAT.

Not meant to scare you, just this will likely happen at some point, but having written/emailed HMRC and told them of the issue, then you can tell debt collectors to jog on and HMRC will have a record of your original complaint and so gives you protection.

Hopefully, HMRC will act quickly on this.

AWebbers - what's the view if the OP setup a government gateway and added the VAT service (using the details on the letter from HMRC) and then deregistered for VAT, thus scuppering the fraudsters plans. What's the legal impact of that (appreciating this is not a legal forum, more seeking general gut feelings).

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By paul.benny
07th Mar 2024 15:40

I'd be up for doing it myself. Especially as company has brushed off OP.
Less sure that I would advise someone else to do it.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
stonks
By WinterDragon
07th Mar 2024 15:55

Would I do this in any professional capacity - absolutely not. Might I set up an anonymous email address and press a few buttons? No comment, Officer.

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Replying to WinterDragon:
RLI
By lionofludesch
07th Mar 2024 16:06

WinterDragon wrote:

Would I do this in any professional capacity - absolutely not. Might I set up an anonymous email address and press a few buttons? No comment, Officer.

Don't forget your internet cafe IP address.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
stonks
By WinterDragon
07th Mar 2024 21:54

I've just realised the irony of us (hypothetically) taking steps to not get caught doing something naughty when the sole reason we'd be doing this is because the authorities aren't doing anything to track down actual fraudsters

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By FactChecker
07th Mar 2024 15:58

Do it ... but don't caught doing it. [You asked for personal, not professional, advice.]

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Replying to Jason Croke:
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By Paul Crowley
07th Mar 2024 17:14

Even before reading your posting I was thinking about telephone disruption, but not confident that HMRC would accept anything important over the phone.
Your plan is better, and done in the best possible taste.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By mumpin
07th Mar 2024 21:06

Wouldn't you need a hack email address to open a GG account for the business, and also a burner phone to set up secondary ID? Seems a lot of trouble to go to...

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VAT
By Jason Croke
07th Mar 2024 15:27

OP - might be worth joining the HMRC forum here https://community.hmrc.gov.uk/ and make a post there, the HMRC moderators might take more of an interest than Action Fraud or at he very least might give you an email address you can use to report this (outside of Action fraud who are, as others have stated, utterly useless).

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By Davola171
07th Mar 2024 16:00

Thanks for all comments so far:

Given it's a one director company that was "legit" until recently (as I mentioned, they have many real and positive reviews going back 10 years and many third party retailers stock their products), I also think it's possible the director has lost control of the company to fraudsters.

However, as I have no way of contacting them (their company address is registered to a "ghost" address and they have no public contact number), there's not much I can do.

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Replying to Davola171:
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By FactChecker
07th Mar 2024 16:43

Two quick thoughts:

1. you say "a letter from HMRC saying a company had successfully registered for VAT" ... but have you checked whether the company is indeed the very same one that you regard as above board (i.e. does this new VAT number tally when you use the VAT checker)?
[It could be a fraudulent company set up with a very similar name.]

2. you say you "have reported (this) to HMRC" ... hopefully this was in writing (letter and/or email) not just a phone-call?
[You may need hard evidence, at some point in the future, that you told them.]

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Davola171
07th Mar 2024 16:48

FactChecker wrote:

Two quick thoughts:

1. you say "a letter from HMRC saying a company had successfully registered for VAT" ... but have you checked whether the company is indeed the very same one that you regard as above board (i.e. does this new VAT number tally when you use the VAT checker)?
[It could be a fraudulent company set up with a very similar name.]

2. you say you "have reported (this) to HMRC" ... hopefully this was in writing (letter and/or email) not just a phone-call?
[You may need hard evidence, at some point in the future, that you told them.]

Hello, yes unfortunately I have checked the VAT number on HMRC's site and it's legit - they have indeed registered to my home address.

Regarding my HMRC "report": this was just via phone - but that's a good point, I will send them a letter / email too - any idea on best department / email to make this report or send a letter?

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Replying to Davola171:
RLI
By lionofludesch
07th Mar 2024 16:57

Post on their forum as well. And take a screen shot.

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Replying to Davola171:
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By kiwilondon99
07th Mar 2024 17:17

perfect candidate for the new CoHouse "upskilled" compliance regime [ + strike off]

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Replying to Davola171:
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By Paul Crowley
07th Mar 2024 17:26

The filing history of the company will show prior registered office on the Companies house listing.
Chances are that that it is a clone of the real company. I had idiots register the same company name, but just add Limited after Ltd on the second.
The thing to check is the prior accounts, and whether the company has changed its name.
Then charge a tax registered office fee.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Davola171
07th Mar 2024 17:33

This company doesn't appear to be a clone - they have accounts going back almost 10 years and the same Director throughout: no name change either.

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Replying to Davola171:
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By Paul Crowley
07th Mar 2024 17:45

If you are not in the trade, then it would be forgivable to state the company name, just the name, exactly as it is on the VAT registration. After all you must want to find the correct address to advise them of their error.

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Replying to Davola171:
RLI
By lionofludesch
07th Mar 2024 17:51

Davola171 wrote:

This company doesn't appear to be a clone - they have accounts going back almost 10 years and the same Director throughout: no name change either.

Just tell us the company number and we'll have a look.

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VAT
By Jason Croke
07th Mar 2024 17:56

If you visit www.vat-search.co.uk and type in the VAT number, it will show you the address and other details of the business (such as registered office, incorporation date, etc). It is free to search, you pay if you to know what the VAT number is - but as you know that then the rest of the information is free.

Presumably, it will show your home address as the VAT registered address

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By Open all hours
07th Mar 2024 19:25

Can you change the address to c/o 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ?

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By Truthsayer
08th Mar 2024 10:58

Just return all mail marked 'not known at this address'. HMRC should then cancel the VAT registration.

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By Davola171
08th Mar 2024 13:03

The company replied to one of my emails asking me to send them the HMRC letter "as proof of my claim" - despite the fact they can (sadly) already see my address via various online services. Bizarrely, they even recommended I contact HMRC and Action Fraud myself...

Either they are stupid or they genuinely do not believe my claim - or both. Or something else - I don't know.

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Replying to Davola171:
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By Paul Crowley
08th Mar 2024 17:01

A level of ignorant stupidity that defies belief.
Was that the real company or the ghost mail company?

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Replying to Davola171:
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By FactChecker
08th Mar 2024 19:23

Most likely? - they're aware of the problem (which may be only the tip of the iceberg at their end) ... and their guard is up (so are treating you as potentially part of the problem).
As Paul says, neither wise nor helpful - but a dead end for you.

Best bet (and least effort) for you ... Truthsayer's suggestion of writing 'not known at this address' or 'gone away' on every brown envelope that arrives at your place and re-posting it as 'Return To Sender'.

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