‘I’ve never banked with HSBC’ says man left with £17k debt after letter box raid

Fraudsters spent thousands of pounds
A 37-year-old man has had £17,000 of debt taken out in his name after thieves broke into his letterbox -Credit:No credit

A man has been left struggling with a mountain of debt after fraudsters stole his identity by breaking into his letterbox. He said that the criminals quickly racked up more than £17,000 of debt with HSBC - a bank he did not even have an account with.

Jamie Cavanagh, 37, a civil engineer from East Grinstead, West Sussex, was shocked to receive a letter from HSBC in January 2024, which claimed he had racked up over £12,000 in credit card charges despite never having an account or any dealings with the bank.

He also found out that an HSBC current account had been set up under his name with a £5,000 overdraft that had been "maxed out", causing his credit score to nosedive by more than 300 points in recent months. Upon discovering the fraudulent activity, Jamie immediately reported the transactions to HSBC as fraudulent, suspecting that his identity was stolen by someone who "busted" into his letterbox and used his personal details to open the accounts.

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The stolen funds were mostly taken out in £350 increments from various bank branches across south London, and there were also transactions at retailers including Tesco, Sports Direct, and a number of chicken shops.

Residing alone in a large block of flats, Jamie has been cooperating with HSBC to shut down the fraudulent accounts and repair his previously "nigh on perfect" credit rating. However, he has described the process as "beyond poor" and akin to "dragging your arse across sand paper".

After a gruelling 14-week wait and with HSBC's investigation still pending, leaving the credit card account open, he took to X, formerly known as Twitter, sharing his plight which quickly went viral with over 40,000 views.

"At first I thought somebody had sent the wrong post, until I saw my name and address at the top of it," Jamie disclosed to PA Real Life.

"In January my credit score was 930 out of 1,000, so nigh on perfect. Come February, March, it had nosedived to 620 out of 1,000."

"When I look at my outstanding finances, it shows that I'm in arrears for £12,820 on a credit card account with HSBC and £5,130 for an overdraft on a current account with HSBC.

"I've never banked with HSBC in my life."

On January 21 2024, Jamie was baffled to receive a letter from HSBC a bank he doesn't use, as his accounts are with NatWest and Santander.

The shock deepened when he opened the envelope to find a credit card statement indicating a debt of over £10,000 due to a shopping spree he never went on.

He said: "I saw there were reams and reams of cash withdrawals on this credit card, so I was trying to figure out what had gone on," he recounted.

"I discovered that somebody had taken out the card in my name, managed to get themselves a credit of £13,000.

"It showed that they had managed to take out £10,000 in cash at various cashpoints across south London, in Catford, Croydon, Bromley, Orpington, Lewisham."

The fraudulent purchases range from spending a few pounds in shops, including Tesco, Joe and The Juice and Lazy Chef, to withdrawing hundreds of pounds.

Jamie suspects the thieves broke into his post box to obtain the information they needed to open the account. "It dawned on me that my post box had been stiff to open for a few months, which I just assumed was to do with rust or the weather," he said.

"They would have had to take receivership of the credit card and the PIN code, which gets sent separately. So I figure, that's what they were doing, busting into my post box."

Jamie immediately tried contacting HSBC to warn them that somebody had stolen his identity and taken out a credit card in his name.

"I needed to speak to someone human because every time I phoned their telephone number it was asking for a bank account number which I didn't have," he said.

"So I messaged them on Twitter and they said just type any number in and it will put you through to someone."

Jamie was hoping to resolve the issue quickly, but was told that he would have to visit his nearest branch with three forms of identification. "At the time I was pretty distressed," he said.

"I was like, you must be having a laugh? How can someone get all of that and you're telling me that I need to attend the bank in person."

That same day, Jamie called Sussex Police who advised he file a report with Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. He also signed up with the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System, a service designed to prevent fraud, which put an alert on his credit file to signal the fraudulent activity.

However, when Jamie checked his own credit score on checkmyfile.com, he discovered the extent of the issue.

"Not only had they taken out the credit card, but they had also managed to set up a current account with a £5,000 overdraft, again with HSBC, which they had also maxed out," he explained.

Jamie later found out that the scammers had also accessed his credit score by setting up an account on ClearScore using a different email address.

In total, the fraudsters racked up £12,820 in charges on the credit card and £5,130 on the debit card debts that are now, at least on paper, Jamie's responsibility. HSBC told Jamie that their investigation into the matter would take about two weeks.

"Two weeks go by and I'm thinking what the hell is going on here," he recounted. "I eventually get through and they inform me that the investigation is still ongoing and that it can actually take up to seven weeks."

Throughout this period, Jamie was bombarded with letters demanding repayment of the funds. At the end of March, he received a final notice warning him to start repaying the debt or face a demand for the full sum and a default notice.

"Obviously, I knew it wasn't my debt, it had nothing to do with me," he stated. "So I asked them at the very least, can you get this to stop?".

But the demands didn't cease.

"I'm going to end up with bailiffs at my door it just baffles me," he added.

Despite reporting the fraud to HSBC 14 weeks ago, on April 6, 2024, Jamie is still waiting for an update. "I rang them myself in the morning," he said. "This is what beggars belief in my opinion.

"If you are doing a fraud investigation, would I not be top priority to contact? Even if they suspect that it might be me who is doing this, would it not make sense to call me and question me? ".

"Other than sending letters demanding payment for the outstanding debt, they never contacted me. I was quite upset as you can imagine."

Jamie was informed once again that the investigation was still ongoing. In just two and a half months, Jamie's credit score has taken a nosedive from 930 to 620 out of 1,000.

"All that's happening is that my financial situation is seemingly getting worse," he said. "Not only that, but they hadn't closed the credit account."

After expressing his frustration over the phone, Jamie managed to file an official complaint with the bank, which he was told could take up to five days to process. The following day, he visited his local branch in Crawley armed with three forms of identification: his passport, driving licence and council tax bill.

He said after checking the system, he was told there was nothing they could do. "I was at a complete loss with my treatment," he said.

Having exhausted all options, Jamie decided to share his experience on X, formerly known as Twitter.

After posting on social media, Jamie's observation managed to garner about 43,000 views within a day. On Monday, 8th April 2024, HSBC reached out to him with the message: "Good morning Jamie, thank you for reaching out to us, we would really like to get this matter sorted as quickly as possible. If you could join me in a private chat by clicking the link below, I can investigate this further.."

The bank went on to send him another link requesting him to upload his identification. However, his credit card remains unblocked and his credit score is still impacted by 300 points at the time of reporting.

"Whoever has done this, I assume does not know me. I believe they've probably just pot-lucked as many people as they can."

Jamie conveyed his exasperation over the ordeal saying, "It took me blasting it all over Twitter for them to actually contact me directly. Before then I had not received any correspondence in 14 weeks,".

Responding to the matter, an HSBC UK spokesperson said: "Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We take all allegations of fraud extremely seriously and this case is being looked into."