The BBC has ordered an investigation into TV licence collectors following “damning” allegations they use aggressive incentive schemes and only target vulnerable people who have not paid.
Capita is reportedly paid £58 million a year to collect licence fees for the broadcaster.
Enforcement officers at the company are ordered to catch 28 evaders every week and promised incentive bonuses of up to £15,000 a year, according to a Daily Mail investigation.
Staff targeted vulnerable people, including a war veteran with dementia and a young mother in a women’s refuge, the newspaper said.
Capita bosses told the paper of the incentive system they have devised to bring in as much licence fee cash as possible from home visits.
Agents reportedly arrange card payments, direct debits and weekly payment plans and take cash, the newspaper revealed.
One of the bosses was allegedly caught telling an undercover journalist: “We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy.”
The BBC has ordered an urgent investigation into the report and said financial incentives were offered only for licence sales, not prosecutions.
“We are very disappointed by the conduct of Capita’s interviewing managers in this particular case, which is not in line with the high standards we expect and does not reflect the policies in place,” a spokesman said.
“We have asked Capita to investigate urgently and ensure swift and appropriate action is taken.”
She added: “We expect inquiry officers to behave in a courteous, professional manner and abide by a published code of conduct.
“Capita’s incentive scheme operates purely on licence fee sales, never on prosecution statements taken, and Capita has confirmed again that this is how it operates.”
Damian Collins, the Tory chairman of the Commons culture committee, reportedly described the evidence as “damning”.
Anyone who watches television or the iPlayer without a licence can be fined up to £1,000 and be given a criminal record.
Capita bosses also face being called to Parliament to explain themselves to MPs, according to the Daily Mail.
The company told the newspaper that its incentive scheme applied only to sales of licence fees, not the number of people officers interview so they can be taken to court.