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TONY HETHERINGTON: Kids Information Centre is a scam


Don’t be fooled by the Kids Information Centre Limited… this is a scam: TONY HETHERINGTON investigates

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

Different name: Not much has changed since Tony investigated the Children's Information Centre almost two years ago

Different name: Not much has changed since Tony investigated the Children’s Information Centre almost two years ago

J.C. writes: My business has been contacted by Kids Information Centre Limited, and I noticed in Companies House listings that this is a change of name from Children’s Information Centre Limited, which you wrote about.

I have received a copy of their latest booklet, and an invoice. Let me know if there is anything I can do to stop this. 

Tony Hetherington replies: Unless you are feeling particularly generous and want to hand over hundreds of pounds to a ripoff private company, simply refuse to pay. Kids Information Centre targets businesses with sales calls, asking for donations to pay for booklets that will be sent to a local school. 

The booklets contain common sense advice to children about things like fire safety and road safety. But you may also spot completely false claims that make the whole scheme appear to be a charity instead of what it really is – a scam profit-making company that conceals its true location. 

When I first looked into Children’s Information Centre almost two years ago, I warned that although it used a London address and telephone number, it was really based in Greater Manchester. It lied about being in partnership with very respectable organisations such as the Royal Geographical Society and even the United Nations. 

Not much has changed since then, except that the company made a slight change to its name, and it uses a different London address where – just like before – there is no real sign of it. New victims are still ripped off. And previous victims are told that what they thought was a one-off donation is actually a legally binding contract to carry on paying for even more booklets, with the threat of legal action if they fail to cough up.

Kids Information Centre now says it is at 86 Paul Street in Hackney. This is nothing more than a maildrop, which forwards post to anyone who pays to conceal their real address. The scam is now in the M9 postal area of Manchester. 

Two things are now happening. The first is that Kids Information Centre Limited is in trouble with Companies House. It has failed to file accounts that were legally due as long ago as last August. And it has failed to file current details showing who controls the company. 

In fact, the company has filed no accounts at all since it was formed in 2019, so there is no way of knowing how much the scam has raked in, or how much has been pocketed by Paul Chalmers, the 27-year-old who – on paper at least – runs it. 

The second thing happening is that I have been in close contact with local authority officials in Hackney and Manchester, and Trading Standards staff from both councils are willing to investigate. 

Please go to manchester.gov.uk/info/200098/trading_standards and give them your story. Let’s get this rip-off closed down once and for all. 

I’m retired but taxman has cut my allowance 

S.L. writes: I have a small Forces pension and some savings, and I was considering taking up part-time employment to help make ends meet. 

However, I then received news that my annual tax allowance had been reduced. I have no idea why this should be, as the amount taken from my work pension kept me under the normal tax threshold of £12,750 a year. 

I wrote to the tax office to ask for help with understanding the discrepancy, but as they are all still working from home, I doubt if I will get a response any time soon.

Tony Hetherington replies: You wrote to the Revenue & Customs on November 23 last year, asking why your Pay As You Earn tax code had been cut from 1254L to 887L, but you received no reply. This is close to normal nowadays, unfortunately. In my mailbag, only the DVLA in Swansea attracts more complaints about the near impossibility of getting replies. 

I asked Revenue officials to intervene and they quickly found the cause of the problem. You took a one-off withdrawal from a second pension provider last October, and the PAYE system assumed this would be a regular thing, increasing your income and your tax. Staff have now contacted you to offer a repayment within 30 days if you lodge a claim, or a refund will be made automatically after the end of the tax year on April 5.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected]. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 



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