Questions of Cash: I've been chased for a phantom debt. What can I do to stop it haunting my credit status?

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The Independent Online

Q | I received a letter correctly addressed in terms of my house number and street and my surname, but with the wrong first name.

I opened it, assuming it was intended for me, and found it claimed that I had a debt with O2 that had been sold to a firm called Lowell Financial for collection. I have never had an account with O2, or with any other mobile phone company. I also have no outstanding debts.

I phoned Lowell and was told that incorrect information had been given to it by another company. I was advised to do a check on my credit status, as this may have been affected.

Despite my protest that the matter had nothing to do with me, I was informed that any correction could not be made by Lowell. I would be grateful for any information on what means of redress are available. AT, London

A | We have been in contact with Lowell, the Experian credit-reference agency and the mobile phone companies O2 and EE to find out what happened.

Six years ago someone carried out a fraud against Orange, which is now part of EE. That person used a similar – though not quite identical – surname to yours, but a different first name and address. For some reason, perhaps the same date of birth, the fraudster's details became linked to your credit reference status. After that, the same person undertook a similar scam with O2 and attempts to recover the debt ended up with a letter to your address.

Following our contact with it, Experian has deleted the link on its records between yourself and the fraudster, recognising that you are not connected in any way with that person. Lowell will not be contacting you again on this matter.

A spokeswoman for Lowell said: "Given that [the reader] felt the need to turn to The Independent for further reassurance, we will continue to explore how we can offer a clearer explanation in the future."

James Jones of Experian said: "Data accuracy is a top priority and we run several hundred tests on incoming data – but this sort of thing wouldn't be picked up by our routine checks. It's one of the reasons we encourage people to review their own credit reports from time to time so we can investigate and correct any anomalies."

Experian has provided you with a free copy of your credit report: your credit status is undamaged.

is this letting agent banned or not?

Q | I am concerned that someone banned by the former Financial Services Authority [FSA] is now operating as a letting agent. He does not appear on the ombudsman's register, which is a legal requirement. The individual involved is Shaun Lawrence and his new business is called L&B Property Management, in Nottingham. AN, Derbyshire

A | We spoke to Shaun Lawrence, who told us he is not conducting any regulated financial business and so is not in breach of his ban. The Financial Conduct Authority – which has replaced the FSA – confirms that his activities are not subject to its regulation.

On the subject of the ban, Mr Lawrence said: "That was years ago." He also stated: "We are registered with the ombudsman."

We checked this with the Property Ombudsman, which said that neither Shaun Lawrence nor L&B Property Management is registered with it, nor is any other business using its address. A spokeswoman added: "If the agent is dealing with residential sales within the UK, it is a legal requirement. In regards to lettings, it is a requirement if the agent is based in England."

The firm's website – lawrenceandbright.co.uk – tells tenants: "L&B Property Management is an agency which specialises in quality rental properties."

We have referred the matter to the Property Ombudsman to investigate.

left out on a limb with physiotherapy

Q | I recently changed employment. In my old job I had a health insurance policy, through which eight sessions of physiotherapy had been approved. But I changed jobs before the sessions had begun. The insurer, Simplyhealth, has now refused to pay, on the basis that the policy was cancelled by my ex-employer.

Simplyhealth says that treatment is only covered while an active policy is in place. I have had to pay the physiotherapist £210. Do I have any recourse? TP, Lincolnshire

A | Simplyhealth insists it has acted in line with its obligations under your former employer's policy.

A spokeswoman for the company says: "In our private medical insurance policy terms and conditions, we explain that when an employer cancels an employee's membership, we will not pay for any treatment they receive after the cancellation date. This includes treatment that was previously given our authorisation.

"Our contract is with the employer and it is their responsibility to inform the employee that they will no longer be covered under the ... scheme. It's disappointing when a situation occurs which leaves a customer dissatisfied. In these circumstances, we invite them to get in contact and follow our formal complaints process."

You are likely to be disappointed with this response – so we suggest you pursue the formal complaints procedure, as suggested.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we'll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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