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Office of Fair Trading Warning over VAT Scams

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Division has become aware that VAT registered businesses in the Isle of Man are being targeted by European scams which could cost them over £3,000

The Division has become aware that VAT registered businesses in the Isle of Man are being targeted by European scams which could cost them over £3,000.

One such scam centres on an official looking letter from a German company relating to the 'Publication of companies and VAT Registration Numbers in the UK Corporate Portal 2013'.

It states:

'As part of the changes to the EU economic package, obligating all companies to provide their VAT Registration Number on various documents since 2010, we as a publisher of leading Internet portals are required to update our database. We therefore request that you check the information on page 2 relating to your company and provide us with your VAT Registration Number.'

The letter suggests that information must be provided to the company and it comes with a form to be completed. However, the small print shows that if it is completed and returned it will incur a charge of £797 a year for at least 4 years for the information to appear on a website hosted by the company.

The application for the database entry in the UK Corporate Portal is addressed to companies, self-employed people, institutions and public authorities.

Although the letter looks official, the information requested does not have to be provided to the company and entries do not have to appear on the company's website or portal.

Businesses responding may be tied into a legally binding contract to pay £797 per year for 4 years for advertising on the website.

If you receive a letter from the company do not complete or return the form that accompanies it unless you are prepared to pay the £797 each year.

A second similar scam centres on an official looking letter from a Belgian company relating to the 'European Central Register for the Collation and Publication of VAT Registration Numbers'.

Again, the letter suggests that information must be provided to the company and there is a section to complete authorising publication of your recorded data on a website hosted by the company.

However, the small print shows that if it is completed and returned it will incur a charge of £760 a year for a minimum period of 24 months and that this may be extended for a year if not cancelled in writing at least three months before the expiry of the contract.

Although the letter looks official, the information requested does not have to be provided to the company and entries do not have to appear on the company's website.

Businesses responding may be tied into a legally binding contract to pay £760 per year for a minimum of 2 years for advertising on the website.

If you receive a letter from the company do not complete or return it unless you are prepared to pay the £760 each year.

A media release will also be posted on the Office of Fair Trading website in due course.

Customs and Excise Division

P.O. Box 6

Custom House

North Quay

Douglas

Isle of Man

IM99 1AG

Telephone:+44 1624 648100

Fax:+44 1624 661725

Email:Send Email

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