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Counter fraud information from The Gazette

As we have seen a rise in fraudulent attempts to file documents at Companies House, we thought it would be good idea, on behalf of our members, to investigate whether it would be possible for someone to place a false insolvency notice in The Gazette. We undertook this in case you have any potential concerns in this area following the fraudulent activity that we have recently seen.

We contacted The Gazette on this matter and thought it would be useful to share our findings with members.

You should note, however, that there are many other potential ways for people to attempt fraud, and you should always remain vigilant. For further information, please refer to the fraud and scam alerts article in this newsletter, which signposts to the dedicated page for these types of alerts, which we have set up on the IPA website. This will be added to as we become aware of any other activity.

Those who wish to place a notice on The Gazette must register. There are access controls in place to restrict the types of notices that can be placed, depending on the type of user. A list of the types of notices is here for notices that a user can place. Only the following types of notice placer have the authorisation to place an insolvency notice:

  • advertising agency;
  • insolvency administrator;
  • insolvency practitioner;
  • law firm/other licenced professional;
  • liquidator; and
  • solicitor.

When registering, notice placers have to actively accept terms and conditions for placing notices, thereby making them solely responsible for the validity and accuracy of notice content.

The Gazette has provided a breakdown of the types of individuals/entities that place insolvency notices, by both corporate and personal insolvency. The breakdown is as follows:

Corporate insolvency2019 notice volume %
Advertising agencies76%
Government departments10%
Other – including insolvency practitioners, solicitors and individuals/companies14%

In respect of personal insolvency, notice placement comes predominantly from the Insolvency Service:

Personal insolvency2019 notice volume %
Advertising agencies4%
Government departments95%
Other – including insolvency practitioners and solicitors1%

When registering, the notice placer must select from a list the professional body of which they are a member. When this is selected, they must enter their membership number which is then checked as part of the registration process.

If it is an advertising agency placing the notice, they accept liability for accuracy and carry out due diligence checks to ensure that their client has the correct level of authority to place the notice.

The Gazette receives some types of insolvency notices from individuals and companies. In such cases, it is necessary to supply additional supporting documentation, for example court orders or forms specified in notice placement policies.

The Gazette has advised us that on the site there are a total of 1,694 approved authorised notice placer accounts and 429 rejected accounts – therefore 20% of registrations are currently rejected. We were advised that this is largely due to incorrect registration or registration without a clear idea of the aim. These registrants were subsequently advised of the correct course of action.

In addition, we were advised that company names and company numbers in corporate insolvency notices are checked against Companies House records, to ensure that companies are correctly identified.

A clear privacy policy sets out the actions that will be taken if it is found that a notice contains inaccurate information or has been submitted by an unauthorised notice placer.

This was a reassuring response from The Gazette, and we hope that this information will be helpful in providing assurance that The Gazette has robust policies in place to prevent the placing of false insolvency notices.

As mentioned, we strongly recommend that you remain vigilant to fraud, wherever it may possibly arise.