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Trading Standards issues warning to SMEs about advertising scam

Posted: 27/02/12 by N C C Trading Standards Service

Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards Officers are reminding local businesses to watch out for bogus payment demands for advertising.

All businesses – particularly small ones – are being advised to be wary of invoices and phone calls which claim advertisement contracts have been placed.

Many businesses have no recollection of agreeing to place an advert - this is often because they never did.

These phone calls initially have appeared to be genuine, as do the invoices sent, but when the businesses start to ask probing questions, the alleged advertising companies have become aggressive and abusive.

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to these types of unfair business practice.

Trading Standards advises all businesses to be wary - don’t be pressured or tricked into agreeing to advertising you don’t want or into paying for something you haven’t requested.

Legitimate companies do exist, but to reduce the risks of falling for cold call scams, Trading Standards has issued these tips:

  • Don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the sales person your full attention – if you want to talk, ask them to call back at a convenient time
  • Don’t agree to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller – legally binding agreements can be made over the phone
  • Be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting that you are placing an order or entering an agreement when you don’t wish to do so
  • Be wary of follow-up calls – you may think they are just verifying details, but they may be trying to trick you into entering into an agreement. If you’re not clear about any details, don’t be rushed and ask questions
  • Don’t be pressurised into paying for services you haven’t agreed to, that haven’t been provided or that don’t match those agreed to
  • If you are threatened with debt collectors or a credit black-listing, remember that only a court can decide whether you are liable to pay and disputes with another business will not necessarily affect your credit rating

Any business with suspicions about the legitimacy of any such calls should contact Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506. Businesses can also report scams on the Action Fraud website

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