A mix-up at a hire car company left a couple fearing they could lose their home after they received a stranger’s Mersey Gateway fine.

Andrew and Carole Hall were surprised last summer to receive a fine from Merseyflow, the Halton Council-run company that operates the Mersey Gateway toll bridge, for a car they did not own, in a name they did not recognise.

Mr Hall, 59, told the ECHO: “Our first thought was that someone had registered a car at our address.”

However, after calling the DVLA he was told their records showed the mystery car registered at a completely different address.

He then called Merseyflow to explain the situation, and said he was told it would be sorted out, but not long afterwards the couple received another letter saying they still owed money for the unpaid toll - and Merseyflow did not inform the bailiffs that there was no debt to recover.

This time, the couple wrote to Merseyflow, explaining the situation again, but heard nothing back until January 18.

Mr Hall said: “We got a letter from a blooming debt collection agency.

“I phoned Merseyflow and said it’s not our car, then we’ve got a second letter. What do you have to do to get this sorted out?

“We’ve made a complaint to Merseyflow and they said you’ve got to prove it isn’t your car.

“They obviously must have a link to the DVLA, the only thing they’ve got to do really is recheck the registration number, but they don’t seem to want to do that.”

Instead, bailiffs, unaware of the situation, contacted Mr Hall saying he and his wife must pay £235 or risk having their property seized.

However, after the ECHO contacted Merseyflow, it emerged that the car belonged to a hire company that had mistakenly provided the Halls’ address for one of its customers.

A spokesperson for Merseyflow said: “The vehicle in question was a hire car and we were provided with the incorrect address by the hire company.

“We have over two million crossings a month and very occasionally errors like this occur when we are relying on information provided by a third party.

"We’ve contacted Mr and Mrs. Hall to apologise to them and confirm there is nothing for them to pay.

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“This should never have happened – and it only happened because we were provided with incorrect details by the hire car company We have reinforced this with hire car company involved.”

Mr Hall said he was relieved that the matter had been resolved, but added: “The way it’s gone, I’m half expecting to get another letter.”