Brian Matthews, 51, told officials he had no use of his arms and legs for 15 years while claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits by pretending to be quadriplegic.
The old cliché is true, you really can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can at least do your very best to read between the lines…
When it comes to identifying vulnerability from a Court Enforcement perspective, a keen eye is needed, as is a broad understanding of a range of circumstances in order to ensure the welfare of every single person involved, from the debtors to our own agents.
There are a lot of misconceptions about people working within our industry. Some of these misconceptions are a lot easier to deal with than others, but the one that sticks in the throat is that we ‘don’t care’ or that we fail to consider extenuating circumstances when carrying out our instructions.
As a matter of fact, everyone working within the industry is required by law to identify signs of vulnerability to ensure the welfare of debtors who may be experiencing challenging situations.
Elderly people, disabled people and those living with a serious illness are all identified as vulnerable, but so are pregnant women, unemployed people, single parent families and the recently bereaved.
This information often surprises people, as it reveals a compassionate and caring side to the industry that most simply aren’t aware of.
With all this being said, the experience of our agents is also crucial when it comes to working out whether people who claim to be vulnerable are actually vulnerable at all.
We’ve all seen the newspaper articles about so called ‘benefits cheats’ who have more holidays than hot dinners…
The lengths that people go to in order to avoid court proceedings never cease to amaze us and they would certainly make for an interesting chapter in a book (watch this space!), but our agents have experience of witnessing faked pregnancies, fake illnesses and even faked bereavements, all pulled out as excuses for not settling debts.
This just makes it worse for the people who are truly in need of leniency, as it clouds the water and creates further obstacles to an already difficult job.
Experience and understanding are crucial assets to our agents, as we know all too well that an inaccurate judgement can have serious consequences for everyone.
Fortunately for Court Enforcement Specialists, our agents are the best in the business when it comes to reading in between the lines, so we never even have to judge a book by its cover in the first place.
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