Merton Council is warning local businesses to be wary of bogus advertising and publications companies following several complaints it has received from local traders.
Targeting smaller businesses, these companies claim to sell advertising space in publications for charities or other worthy sounding causes. In reality, the majority do not publish any materials, or at best circulate in such small numbers that the advertising has no benefit for the business.
The scammers may also send invoices to unwary businesses demanding payment for non-existing advertising. A significant number of victims pay the invoice without question, particularly if the amount involved is relatively small. Another technique is to falsely claim to be from a legitimate publisher that the company has used before. Victims often agree to place an advert and it is not until an invoice arrives from a publisher they have never heard of that they suspect anything.
Merton Council’s trading standards team is advising businesses not to agree to place an advert over the telephone unless they are absolutely happy with the publisher and the deal offered. All businesses should insist on seeing written details and a copy of the publisher’s full terms and conditions before placing an order. By law, any callers should identify themselves and the company from which they are calling.
Cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration, Councillor Andrew Judge said: “We are working hard to try and stop local businesses becoming victims of these scams. In the present economic environment it is even more important that we raise awareness about such operations to make it harder to con hard working traders out of their money.”
For more information and to report any suspicious calls visit http://www.merton.gov.uk/tradingstandards/scams or call 020 8545 4018.
London Borough of Merton
020 8545 4654