A local business was recently targeted by fraudsters trying to sell advertising space in a publication which did not exist, claiming it had links to a crime prevention initiative.
Whilst the business did not fall for the scam, the OFT wants to make sure others do not make the mistake of handing over money.
Publication scams can involve telesales agents calling businesses trying to sell advertising space in bogus publications, often for seemingly good causes.
The caller may give the impression that the publisher is partnered with local charities, emergency services or crime prevention/community health initiatives.
Sometimes the caller will say that a business has placed an order previously, or even that someone else in the business has agreed to take out the advertising space.
The fraudsters may also send the business invoices, whether or not the victim has agreed to take out the advertising space. They may follow up the invoices with threats of legal action.
Whilst recognising the fact that legitimate telesales companies do exist, the OFT is offering the following advice to local businesses to reduce the risk of them falling prey to fraudsters:
- Don’t take unsolicited or unexpected calls when you are busy and can’t give the caller 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
- If you’re not clear about any details, don’t be rushed – ask questions
- Be wary of follow-up calls – you may think they’re just verifying details, but they may be trying to trick you into entering into an agreement
- 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 ultimately only a court can decide whether you are liable to pay.
If a business has lost money through a scam they should contact their local police station or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Further information on business scams in general is available from the OFT website at http://www.gov.im/oft/Business_Advice/scams.xml or by telephoning 686500.