Chances are you got here by searching for Atradius Letter, which probably means you’ve been targeted by the Getty Images Letter scam (you can see an example of one if you click the link, this one is to a small Irish company – ironically two ladies, but Getty Images and its debt collection agents, Atradius, replicate this kind of abuse all over the world). If you’ve got to the stage where you’re getting the Atradius letter (see bottom of post for an example) then the case has been ‘escalated’. This means that Getty Images feels you’re not making sufficient effort to meet its outrageous demands so it deems it prudent to sell your alleged debt to Atradius for around 50p, it’s then up to Atradius, a debt recovery vulture, to see how much it can gouge from the targetted individual or business. Some of the letters we’ve seen from Atradius are so badly written, they’re obviously hiring poorly qualified (and paid) school-leavers to respond to queries.
You’re probably terrified about the contents of both letters – everybody that receives them is, that’s the whole point of the exercise – but it’s not nearly as bad as it seems and you’ve probably done very little wrong, so relax a little and read on – you’ll be glad you did.
You are not, by a long way, the only person to have received one of these scam Getty Images/Atradius Letters – Getty Images sends out thousands of them every month. If you look closely, apart from your company or individual name and address, it’s an extremely generic letter that Getty Images churns out in vast volumes. It’s quite the industry at Getty Images, in fact you could say the company pretty much survives on the proceeds of this very dubious practice at this stage. Getty Images is a very large and successful corporate entity with an instantly recognisable name and it didn’t get to earn the billions it does by being nice to people. It recognised very early that individuals’ blogs and small company websites couldn’t afford to pay for images for their sites. With the ease of copying and pasting information on the web, people very often inadvertently use images that Getty Images claim are belong to it. Now there are people that dispute Getty Images’ claims on this, and even some who claim that Getty Images puts its own images on free websites just so that people will use them and fall foul of their threatening letters, but let’s ignore that for now, it’s an argument for another day. Essentially, Getty Images has sent you a letter, you’ve either not responded or responded in a manner which makes Getty Images feel it won’t get much from you, so it’s passed the alleged debt on to its Debt Collection Goons, and you’ve now received the Atradius letter. So let’s deal with the issues at hand.
Atradius Letter – I’ve got one, what should I do?
First and foremost, don’t panic – you’re not in nearly as much trouble as Getty Images and Atradius Debt Collectors would like you to think. This issue is fairly easily solved by someone with the right Intellectual Property (IP) legal experience (don’t go to your own solicitor, unless they specialise in IP law they won’t have a clue what to do, but will still charge you handsomely for the privilege of the visit). It will cost something to sort this out, but not nearly as much as Getty Images and Atradius Debt Collectors have looked for from you. Getty Images usually aim for sums from €800 to €2,500 and there is a good reason for this practice. It’s enough to make the recipient think that they have a very large problem but not enough that they can justify hiring legal representation. Very clever and devious ploy on the part of Getty Images – most people just pay them (or Atradius when it gets that far) because they are very abusive and the wording of the letters is highly emotive, and thus generally terrifies the recipients. Getty Images has a tendency to target businesses such as beauty salons, small veterinary practices, doctor’s clinics, nail bars, dentists, massage parlours, pubs, charities, small personal blogs, etc. This is because it knows these individuals or businesses are too small or have too little funding to have legal representation, and will, therefore, in all liklihood give in to their demands very quickly. This is just the reaction that Getty Images and Atradius Debt Collectors depends on to keep the Getty Images Letter/Atradius Letter scam rolling along. In fact, as soon as you contact Getty Images or Atradius the first thing they will do is offer to reduce the amount they claim you owe them by up to 30% if you agree to pay them immediately. Don’t fall for this nefarious (and borderline illegal) offer. If you truly owed Getty Images or Atradius what they claimed you owe them there is no way they should be able to offer you such a discount, so even if you did owe it, they were overcharging you in their initial threatening missive.
The first thing to do, if you’ve not done so already, is to remove the image/s in question, if you can’t do this get your web designer to do so – and do it right away. This is pretty easily achieved. If you use blogging software such as WordPress, you should also remove the file from your Media uploads as Getty Images will also be able to find it there and claim that you’ve not removed it.
If Getty Images and Atradius were operating within the law, as they are supposed to do, the first letter to you should have been what is termed a ‘Cease and Desist’ request, asking you to remove the image from your site. If you complied there’s little or nothing they could do to you. Unfortunately for Getty Images, this course of action makes no money for the corporate behemoth, hence the invention of their Copyright Trolling letters, which makes the company an awful lot of dubiously earned income.
Atradius Letter – Contact Copyright Infringement
The next step in the process with your Atradius Letter is to contact Copyright Infringement in the UK. This company specialises in drafting replies to the Getty Images Letter/Atradius Letter which are pretty much guaranteed to put a swift halt to Getty Images and Atradius communications with you. The total cost of the service is a very reasonable £150 and covers any communication necessary with Getty Images or t Atradius Credit Insurance and Risk Management. You can find a video of solicitor Liz Ward below, explaining some of what is involved. The company is very professional and everything it does is above board and legal – clients of ours have used their services very successfully in the past and we can highly recommend these services.
Basically, Copyright Infringement will draft a letter on your behalf and send it to Getty Images with a covering letter from its legal practice. Any further communication (if there is any, which there usually is not) is then with Copyright Infringement which is acting as your legal representative. This stops you receiving those incredibly distressing Getty Images Letters or Atradius Letters which, once initiated, will arrive on your doorstep every month unless you take steps to deal with them.
Copyright Infringement will send Getty Images or Atradius (depending on the part of the process you have reached) a letter which outlines that you contest the debt in question. The letter requests that Getty Images sends proof of ownership of the images in question, asks for proof of the infringement that will stand up in court and also requests a breakdown of the image cost and how the amount that has been looked for was calculated. All this is couched in legal language aimed squarely at informing Getty Images and Atradius that they will get nowhere with their requests should the matter ever reach a courtroom. It will never reach court, because that is the last thing that Getty Images or Atradius wants, neither has a legal leg to stand on, but you still need to stand up to and respond to the threats to make both parties understand that you are aware of your legal rights and will not be bullied into enhancing the profit margins of their shareholders.
That’s it, job done.
If this post has helped you in any way please do feel free to share it and make sure that others with a similar problem with the very dubious actions of Getty Images or Atradius Debt Collectors get the help they need. There are sharing icons for all the major platforms at the left of the post, click on the crown at the bottom if there are other services you would like to notify – they’re pretty much all in there somewhere.