Is it too good to be true? You receive a letter, an email or a phone call telling you that you’re the rightful beneficiary to a substantial sum of money. The thing is—you have never heard of the deceased and you’re all too aware that con artists and fraudsters prey on people all the time.

Here are our tips for checking your inheritance is genuine.

Watch out for secrecy and speed

Fraudsters often emphasise secrecy and speed—i.e. trying to persuade you to hand over fees or bank account details so they can pay in the money. People with news of legitimate claims will not do this.

Ask for credentials

Who is contacting you? Check the website of their organisation and ask to call them back. It is easy enough to set up a ‘fake’ website and phone number, but a reputable probate genealogy organisation will have registered offices. Its website will indicate membership of respected bodies such as the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers and Heir Hunters.

Check through official registers

Another way of checking is to look the company up on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register—this is a comprehensive database that holds the details of every financial company registered and regulated by the FCA. Another option is the Companies House website, which will search through all of the two million plus companies registered or trading in the UK.

The correspondence should be professional

If emails and letters don’t contain logos, addresses and are riddled with spelling errors, typos and grammatical mistakes, they are more likely to have come from fraudsters. In addition, webmail addresses such as @hotmail or @Yahoo are not usually from genuine firms.

Do your research

You can read more about how to avoid falling victim to inheritance fraud on the Action Fraud website. If you think you are entitled to a share of an inheritance, choose a legitimate firm such as Finders International to help you work out if your claim is genuine. We don’t charge for our services upfront and have a well-established history of finding heirs to estates.

We offer many services to find heirs. Contact us so we can conduct a probate search on your behalf.