Has a firm of Heir Hunters tried contacting you? What questions should you ask?

The phone call comes in…

We think you might be a potential heir to an estate.

It sounds straightforward enough. And wouldn’t we all welcome the news that a potential windfall might be heading our way? But before you start spending that money in your head, you should find out if the company is a) legit and b) open and transparent about the way they work.

Where to start? A reputable company will have a website and an office address—the latter should be traceable through Companies House which examines and stores company information and makes this available to the public.

Look for contact details

We know scammers are capable of creating legitimate-looking websites but look for the contact details—an office address and a landline. A genuine website won’t be littered with mistakes, typos and obvious grammatical errors either. Look for testimonials too and who they are from. An heir hunting business that has, for example, solicitors, law firms and local authorities endorsing its services is likely to be genuine.

Search the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register too. Professional heir hunting companies will be registered and regulated by the FCA. If a company is not on this register, it is wise to avoid them.

Code of conduct

While heir hunting is an unregulated industry, there are self-regulated bodies where professional firms can become members, such as the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists and Heir Hunters (IAPPR).

This association is a voluntary registered scheme that provides reassurance for those using heir hunting companies’ services. Those businesses that belong to the IAPPR are committed to safe and ethical standards and they subscribe to a Code of Ethics and the Professional Conduct Code.

In addition, check out the credentials on the company’s website. What organisations do they belong to? What memberships do they hold? ISOs, for example, can tell you how well a company deals with information management.

Finally, ask the company how their fees work. Again, professional heir hunters will be happy to share the details with you. In most cases, a percentage is taken from the overall value of the estate so there are no fees paid upfront. Nor will you be expected to pay anything if it turns out you do not have a claim.

Remember, Finders International is happy to help if you have been contacted by another firm but are not sure of its legitimacy.

To find out more information on Finders International’s services, please visit the website.  Alternatively, you can contact Finders via email: [email protected] or telephone: +44 (0) 20 7490 4935