Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2024

Martin Lewis hits out at debt collection firm who ‘used Michael Jackson’s signature’ | Personal Finance | Finance

Debt collectors have been sending out bizarre letters that appeared to have been signed by pop icon Michael Jackson.

A copy of the deceased singer’s signature was added to the letters issued by Barratt Smith Brown, which also trades as Barratt Smith & Brown.

The revelation points to an “extraordinary gap” in consumer and complaints rights, according to finance campaigner Martin Lewis.

The website he founded,, said the letters were asking for repayments owed to energy firms that have gone bust.

It said: “In some cases, people don’t owe the debt, in others they do – unfortunately it’s not always ‘black and white’.”

MSE has seen hundreds of complaints on the MSE Forum, social media and online about the practices of the debt collector firm when chasing customers of Igloo Energy and Together Energy.

The firms went bust in 2021 and 2022 respectively, and the energy regulator, Ofgem, confirmed it too has been contacted by former customers about the agency’s practices.

Some of the complaints allege that it sent emails featuring what appears to be Michael Jackson’s signature, as shown on the late pop star’s Wikipedia page.

Some former Igloo Energy and Together Energy customers have also accused Barratt Smith Brown of chasing debts that have already been repaid or were not owed.

When asked if it had used Michael Jackson’s signature, Barratt Smith Brown admitted that a “processing error” saw it wrongly send “template letter” emails to some former Together Energy customers. It says it has since emailed those affected to apologise.

MSE said the problems identified by consumers have brought to light that there is no apparent route to redress, complaints or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for some customers of bust energy suppliers who are now being chased by debt collectors.

Martin Lewis has written to the Energy Secretary and regulators to ask them to urgently address this.

In the letter, he writes: “Consumers are stuck in an endless loop, trying to find someone to complain to.

“To put this in context, Barratt Smith Brown was sending debt collection letters, with what appears to be Michael Jackson’s (yes, the late US pop star’s) signature at the bottom, including to some who didn’t owe it debt.

“I’m sure you’ll agree, debt collection, especially on a complex administration like this, needs proper oversight and the ability to complain to an independent higher authority that can make a binding ruling.

“I’d ask if you can help both in the short term, and for a long-term fix to this lack of dispute resolution in this situation.”

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