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    ProSearch Scam
    • #1
    • 25th Jul 10, 8:59 PM
    ProSearch Scam 25th Jul 10 at 8:59 PM
    BT shares & ProSearch : I moved house & failed to notify BT. Some 4 years later I recieved a letter with a BT letterhead saying that ProSearch had been instructed to advise me of £200 of unclaimed dividends & that to claim these I need simply fill out the form and return the share certificates.
    I did so and almost 2 months later recieved a new share certificate for 18 shares less (from 811 to 793 ?) the following day a letter and cheque arrives for .16 pence ! from Prosearch advising me of £168.89 admin fees, 22.38 indemnity fee & £33.48 vat ......this seems outrageous. I feel tricked & cheated and would welcome any advise as to what steps I should take. the small print on ProSearches initial letter advises of a 12% fee but I have paid 99% and lost 18 shares ??!!
    The shares were a wedding gift some years ago....I'm a chef and don't cook books for a living me out here please
Page 5
  • linkx
    This is Money looked at a similar question from a reader.
    Extract below and click the url for the rest of the article.

    "This is what Equiniti spokesperson Stuart Ellen said: Equiniti acts as share registrar to around half of all FTSE 100 companies and manages the shareholdings and dividends of millions of shareholders and investors. In order to ensure this happens securely and accurately, we have both a legal and regulatory duty and practical need to ensure that where possible we always have the shareholder!!!8217;s or investor!!!8217;s current contact details."

    As a knew user it seems I'm not allowed to post urls yet. Just google this is money and prosearch. It's fairly near the top. HTH.
    Last edited by linkx; 24-01-2015 at 9:04 AM. Reason: spacing - for easier reading.
  • qisuk
    Why is it a scam?

    You choose to send back the form and pay the fees rather than do the leg work yourself.

    It only takes a couple of phone calls.

    Pro search have costs in tracking you down and that is what you are paying for."

    Originally posted by calleyw
    They don't even "track you down" The share companies and the banks have addreses already. aso they do not say that they are doing anything other than retreiving your premiums. they do not state that they are retreiving shares which they then keep or sell and give you whats left of the money.
    so you won't be getting any more premiums because you no longer have any shares.
    • CashStrapped
    • By CashStrapped 11th Apr 15, 4:00 PM
    • 1,293 Posts
    • 724 Thanks
    When Prosearch are involved, ALWAYS go straight to Equiniti

    Equiniti Limited, Aspect House, Spencer Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN99 6DA.
    Ask them to update your shareholder record and release all monies due to you. Please note that dividends ( which make up most unpaid monies) are a debt owed to you by the company. This money should be issued free of all cost. Equiniti may try to charge you to obtain you own cash but they use a technicality in charging for a tax statement attached to the payment.

    If you dont have, and need, a new share certificate, as for a Letter of Indemnity from Equiniti. There will be a fee for this. Some exceptions to the rule are where a company, such as banco Santander, do not issue share certificates or your holding is in a nominee account.

    If you have changed address- send proof. if you dont have proof, dont worry- and dont be bullied into using Prosearch. You will have a record of a previous dividend payment on an old bank statement ( so will Equiniti- get them to check theirs- that would be fun!!!!!), you probably have an old certificate or tax counterfoil. Alternatively, and importantly, if prosearch have already found you and are satisfied that you are the right person, and Equiniti own Prosearch------ well it would seem reasonable to encourage them to check your credentials by using the information already collected about you without your consent, wouldnt it???

    In some cases, Equiniti have told people that they MUST use Prosearch. This advice is clearly wrong. The responsibility for the management of a share register rests with the company in which you own shares and/or its registrar- not with some 3rd party company that happens to be owned by the registrar.
    If you are told this, make representations directly to the company secretary of the company in which you own shares. The company should take such practices extremely seriously. Also, in some circumstances ( if your shares are held in a nominee account) consider making a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority
    Originally posted by devliciously me
    Hello, I received a letter from prosearch regarding unpaid dividends. Being aware of the costs/pitfall of using prosearch, I went direct to Equiniti.

    However, Equiniti still wish to charge a 12.50 admin fee. As my dividend is only a tiny £38, this is nearly 1/3 of the amount dure to me! Despite the small amount, I do not really find this acceptable.

    Going by the above information, am I correct that Equiniti should not really be charging me anything? Looking back in my records, I found the tax certificate stub for the dividend in question. I must have misplaced the cheque somehow(the only one out of all my dividends). Yet, according to the above, if I have the stub, Equiniti should not try to apply a fee. Have I understood this correctly?
    Last edited by CashStrapped; 11-04-2015 at 4:03 PM.
    • Seronera
    • By Seronera 13th Apr 15, 2:40 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 155 Thanks
    I've got one of these letters. Its all very odd as its to do with my late fathers estate and they have correctly put his old address as the registered owner, then sent the letter, again correctly addressed to me, my brother and sister as executors of the estate. As far as I'm aware a grant of probate was lodged with them nearly ten years ago with instructions to deal with the executors.

    They had our address then, so why is it suddenly worth 12.5% to have 'found' us all over again. When you bear in mind that those good old life insurance salesmen generally earned 5% gross commission for selling an investment bond, or 3% for a Unit Trust after their travel and report writing costs, it does seem to me that 12.5% is a ruddy high charge, but it probably reflects the high number of low value transactions where they have to charge a proportionately high fee.

    I don't know where the dividends went either as all the others have been received by the executors. Its all a bit 'niffy' but as others say, probably entirely within the law. Just another little sideline that generates a nice steady income stream for swapping data,,,hmmmmm.

    I also note that if you sign it, you have 'irrevocably appointed Prosearch as agent in processing this claim" Hmmm. Thats neat too. Think I'l do some digging and hit the phone to Equiniti.
    Last edited by Seronera; 13-04-2015 at 2:43 PM.
    • djd1962
    • By djd1962 24th Apr 15, 11:44 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Pro search letters..
    My father received two of these last week relating to HBOS and Lloyds. One was for £761 and the other for £60 which are supposedly entitlements of my Mother who died in 1999. On the face of it, £820 minus their fee looks quite attractive, but having read the posts on here, then I am tempted to call Equiniti directly. But can anyone tell me what our options are should they refuse to deal with the matter? If this money IS genuinely owed to my Dad, then legally what are his rights to claim it back. The deadline on both letters is May 18th
    • Sir Lunchalot
    • By Sir Lunchalot 12th Jun 15, 3:21 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Sir Lunchalot
    The deadline is just to 'encourage' you to fill in the form before their contract expires. If the money is owed to you by the company Equiniti cannot decline to deal with it. If they try, write to the Company Secretary of Lloyds and he or she will put them back in their box pretty quickly.
    • simonm
    • By simonm 20th Sep 15, 11:09 AM
    • 59 Posts
    • 38 Thanks
    I'm sitting on yet another reminder from prosearch about a £16.56 outstanding dividend. I actually phoned them up to ask what the 12.5% referred to, the call centre staff person said it was just taken from the £16,50. I still don't trust them an inch ! Especially after reading all this. Has anybody else used the claim form for £16.56 for International power shares, I imagine this is a fairly typical amount. This is what Santander say:
    • nobblybobbly147
    • By nobblybobbly147 22nd Sep 15, 8:10 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Received a letter from them last week advising that my grandfather has unclaimed entitlements and that they are trying to trace him. He died almost 18 years ago so can anyone advise what I need to do? I have no desire to pay the fees that I've read about on here and am happy to do as much work as possible, just need some pointers in the way to begin. The letter states the following:

    Dear Mr ..........
    ProSearch has been appointed by a major corporation to locate the following person(s) in connection with unclaimed entitlements

    Mr ...............................

    As you share the sane surname we wonder if you might be related to this person?

    It then goes on to ask me to forward a correspondence address to them.
    • shelster
    • By shelster 30th Nov 15, 4:26 PM
    • 11 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Prosearch / Equiniti
    Sorry if I'm missing the point here, but the general advice here seems to be that if you've received a letter from Prosearch, you should instead call Equiniti, as the share register, in order to avoid Prosearch's "admin" fees. Again, if I understand correctly from the posts here, Equiniti is then obligated to tell you if any dividends are due to you and release them (?) Can someone please confirm that's correct?

    But if Equiniti and Prosearch are part of the same company (and my Prosearch letter does say it's a subsidiary of Equiniti), then isn't Equiniti by default as suspect as Prosearch?

    (I'm here b/c my husband received one of the Prosearch letters saying that he was due a £229.50 "dividend entitlement" from Alliance & Leicester shares now acquired by Santander.)

    Thanks for any clarification.
    • Le_Kirk
    • By Le_Kirk 1st Dec 15, 9:44 AM
    • 2,749 Posts
    • 1,634 Thanks
    I received one of the ProSearch letters via my Mum (I look after her financials) and wrote to Equiniti, asking them a) if ProSearch were indeed working on their behalf and b) since the thrust of the letter (about a £3.17 dividend) was that they could not contact Mother, how were ProSearch able to simply write to Mother at the address registered with Equiniti who had previously managed to send (and were still sending) dividends for other shares without problems for a number of years. I did not receive satisfactory answers (waffle mainly) but Mum did get her dividend (then and since) and we did not pay anything to ProSearch.
    • Sally Hale
    • By Sally Hale 18th Dec 15, 6:56 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Sally Hale
    I have received a letter from these people but in the letter it states that they are a subsidiary of Equiniti. It also offers you the option to give the money to Children in Need for no fees! I am still going to contact Equaniti direct as my dividend, when I had the shares, was paid by direct debit!

    Anyone else had one with this info in it?
    • shelster
    • By shelster 19th Dec 15, 3:28 PM
    • 11 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    By way of followup to my earlier post (#89), I took the advice offered here and called Equiniti rather than ProSearch. However, Equiniti claimed that they have sent three cheques to our address that weren't cashed -- and that they would deduct £40.00 from the total they owed us! I find it utterly impossible to believe that they have sent three cheques to us that just disappeared, especially given that they were able to send us quite a few letters from ProSearch. In addition, our address details were correct all along.

    We ended up accepting this, and have been issued a cheque for the dividends (less the £40.00). This just seems like the perfect scam - we have no way of proving whether Equiniti ever sent the cheques in the first place, but they just made £40 by claiming we're at fault for not cashing the cheques.

    I wrote Santander to complain and got a letter back simply saying they aren't responsible for the "non-encashment" of cheques. If I can find the time, I'm writing the Financial Ombudsman.
    • fozmcfc
    • By fozmcfc 3rd Sep 16, 11:39 AM
    • 3,007 Posts
    • 2,193 Thanks
    I received a letter from Prosearch, but it appears to be different from previous letters people have posted.

    If anything, it probably breaks some sort of privacy law.

    The letter says, they have been appointed by a major corporation to locate the following persons in connection with unclaimed entitlements.

    They then give, the persons name and their former address. The person in question, isn't part of my family and in fact I don't know and have never known the person.

    The letter then goes on to say, as this person is a former resident in my road, they wonder if I remained in contact with them or have relevant information.

    It then says, if I do know them, they would be grateful if I could either encourage them to contact prosearch or provide prosearch, with a suitable address.

    They then say I can provide any information via a phone number or email. Or alternatively complete and return the form below in prepaid envelope.

    To my mind, the whole thing is a cheek, it would be bad enough contacting someone about another family member, as it would likely still be none of that persons business, but to contact a complete stranger, surely shouldn't be allowed.

    Anyway, I won't be replying to them, but just thought, how much of a liberty it was.
    • Annie200
    • By Annie200 31st Jan 17, 12:04 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Friends Provident Shares Account/ProSeach
    I've had a letter of ProSearch informing me that I'm entitled to shares and dividend of £329,51, this is an old endowment me and my ex husband took out out in 1988, I cashed in the endowment in 2008. I moved back to Norway in 2007, and my last address in the UK, the guy who moved in after I left was a drug addict( I was told). I tried to chase up the shares after I got back to Norway, and was told there had been a cheque sent out to my previous address. I assumed the guy who moved in would have managed to steal it and cash it in, so I thought money was lost.

    As a result I threw my proof of the shares in the bin.

    As I see it Prosearch want 10 per cent commission and 20 per cent vat on the full amount,
    so out of the 329,51 pounds I will end up with 230,66 , nearly one third of my money will go to pro search ...,,,

    I am glad I googled this and will ring up Equinity and see what they say ...

    I do have a couple more questions in connection with this...

    I do not have any utility bills in my former adress( its 10 years since I lived there) , the letter states I can only get my money paid in cheque, no foreign currency and it wont pay it directly into a bank account.. Pretty old fashioned if you ask me. We don't even have cheques in Norway anymore

    I am now trying to chase up some old bank accounts in the UK, if not get in contact with old friends to see if the cheque can be paid into their account, that is if it is possible , If I ever get the cheque as I dont have much proof of the old address I lived at..

    Any more suggestions ?
    • Bob Pitman
    • By Bob Pitman 13th Mar 17, 5:09 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Bob Pitman
    ProSearch = Equiniti
    My father (90) had a letter from ProSearch regarding some shares - had confirmation that they would charge £2,400 for something Equiniti will charge £135 for.

    I notices that the accents on both callers sounded very similar and once I'd found the numbers behind the non geographical ones published I realised they share the same std code.

    Careful checking reveals that both companies operate from the same place and share the same registered office!

    Clearly it just gives them another chance to fleece shareholders for a greater cut.
    • sterling99
    • By sterling99 23rd Mar 17, 3:24 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    I am miffed with equinit who are trying it on
    Following BG and Royal dutch shell merger I was allocated some Royal Dutch Shell shares and subsequently via prosearch was told I was entitled to over £600 in back dividends
    I ignored prosearch, spoke to Equiniti and sent them a letter saying I had not received any monies and to sort out the payment. Today I received a cheque to the amount - minus £115 for 'admin' costs
    I am definately not happy that sending out a new cheque (even if they had to stop the cheque from 12 months ago) would incur such a cost - I have raised a complaint with them but It seems I am not alone with being scammed. I was not told that the admin cost would be that much (in fact prosearch would have charged less!)
    Last edited by sterling99; 23-03-2017 at 3:25 PM. Reason: error
    • maggyp
    • By maggyp 13th Apr 17, 11:35 AM
    • 30 Posts
    • 14 Thanks
    I have just opened a letter from this company urging me to contact my neighbour to get them to contact Prosearch as a matter of urgency. Having read this thread I don't think I will be doing this.
    • Peter54321
    • By Peter54321 1st Jun 17, 5:36 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Prosearch + BG and Royal Dutch Shell merger
    On 23 March sterling99 wrote:

    "I was not told that the admin cost would be that much (in fact prosearch would have charged less!)"

    Not the case!

    That's what I thought when I compared Equiniti and Prosearch and so I went ahead with Prosearch AND I did read the Prosearch offer document carefully NOR am I a complete illiterate. If you were due £600 in dividends the value of your remaining shares would be worth approximately £1422 so Prosearch would have actually charged you 12.5% of £600+£1422 = 12.5% of £2022+vat i.e. just over £300 in admin fees. You say Equiniti are trying it on charging £115 to reissue a cheque and I agree that's an extortionate charge, but it seems you narrowly avoided being conned out of an additional £185 had you opted for Prosearch. If Equiniti charged you anything to stop a 12 months old cheque then you should contest such a charge. A cheque becomes invalid after 6 months, so requires no stopping.

    You were completely misled in the same way I was, because the Prosearch Offer document IS highly misleading and makes it appear that they will only charge 12.5% of the reissued cash entitlement when in fact their charges end up being around 50% (for the Royal Dutch Shell acquisition of BG missing cash entitlement).

    That so many people in this forum have been misled by Prosearch marketing material is evidence in itself of how misleading it is.
    • Fransmum
    • By Fransmum 2nd Sep 17, 10:28 AM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    I'm delighted I was 'scammed'
    As soon as I received a letter from ProSearch stating I had dividends due from HBOS to the value of approx £750, with details of an address I last lived at around 20 years ago, I jumped onto Google and found this conversation. I read all your comments carefully and checked the Lloyds, Equiniti and ProSearch websites. I also called Lloyds Banking Group but got nowhere with them. I decided against contacting ProSearch, but called their parent company Equiniti, giving them the ProSearch ref. I was told to send them a copy of the ProSearch letter along with my own letter stating my change of address (I also sent my Council Tax bill as proof of address and confirmed that I did used to live at the address given). They said that within 14 days I would receive a cheque less a set fee of £95. Yesterday I received a number of cheques totalling £737 plus a share certificate for Lloyds Banking Group! I still am not sure how I came to own these shares - I can only think I might have had an HBOS mortgage all those years ago, as I don't think I had any savings then.
    I do think that Lloyds Banking Group should give their shareholders back any sums due without those shareholders having to pay fees to their registrars, however I am very glad that I did not ignore that letter from ProSearch. I am grateful for all your posts but obviously don't agree with some of the conspiracy theorists that this is a 'scam'. Best wishes to you all.
    • nickwhite392
    • By nickwhite392 6th Sep 17, 7:10 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    I too nearly fell for this scam from Prosearch. I have 170 Royal Dutch Shell shares and was due about £1500 cash entitlement from the merger, but let the cheque for the cash entitlement get out of date by 7 months. I was looking at a fee from Prosearch of 12.5% plus VAT of the total amount of my entitlement, which surely would have exceeded £700 in fees. But instead, by ringing Equiniti shareholder helpline, they were within minutes able to confirm they would reissue my cheque for a £135 fee.

    Seems as though I avoided being conned out of an additional £600 or so thanks to the very helpful advice here.
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