Scams that target businesses

Don’t be caught out by criminal scams and cons aimed at businesses. See below for scams that we’ve been made aware of that have affected others.

If you’ve been affected by a scam let us know and we can publish the details to help stop other local businesses from being hit. 

If you want to know more about scams that affect individuals, as consumers, please click the "scams awareness" link under related pages on the right of the screen.  This will take you to our consumer advice pages.

Report a scam

If you have been targeted by a scam, or know someone who has then call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or look at their website which has a link under on the right. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime.

If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved in the scam the first step should be to your bank or credit card company. 

Current scams

Here is a list of some of the scams we are aware of.  Scroll down if you are interested in finding out more.

  • Rogue publishers

  • Postal scam

  • Data protection registration

  • Business rates

  • Trade directory entries

  • Adverts around maps

  • PC virus repair

  • Credit brokerage

Rogue publishers

There are few types of publishing frauds.

The simplest version is where a rogue company issues a bogus invoice.  Some businesses are estimated to have fraudulently paid out £50,000 to rogues.  In 2011 a conman based in Islington was successfully prosecuted by Islington Council for sending out invoices that at first glance appeared to come from Yellow Pages.

There is currently a scam involving bogus invoices being sent to businesses requesting payment for an entry into the Register of Companies and Businesses.  There is no legal requirement for a company to make such a registration and the sender's website is designed to look like an official government website, which it is not.

Other recent scams concern offers to advertise in charitable publications.  Charitable publication scams happen when a telesales agent calls a business selling advertising space in a bogus publication for a seemingly good cause.

The caller will give the impression that the publisher is partnered with local charities, emergency services, crime prevention or 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.

Postal scam

Another scam currently being reported is a business getting a card posted through their letterbox from PDS Parcel Delivery suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel. The company request that you contact them on 0906 6611911.

DO NOT call the number as this is a mail scam originating from Belize and the number is charged at premium rate.

If you do receive a card with these details then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 0207 239 6655.

Data protection

Letters originating mainly from the north of England have been circulating, asking for £95 plus VAT to register your business details. The letters look official and warn of enforcement action for non-compliance.

The Information Commissioner’s Office states that the annual fee is £35 and no VAT is payable.

For more information and to see a warning list of scam letters, visit the Information Commissioner’s website by clicking the link under Useful Websites, on the right side of this page.  

Business rates 

Business rate consultants may make claims that your non-domestic rates can definitely be reduced for payment of a fee or even on a no win no fee basis.  However there are many consultants who do not complete the service.  Whilst professional advisers can be helpful you should check thoroughly about who you are hiring.

Where possible use a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  Click on the link on the right under Useful Websites for more information. 

Trade directory entries 

Cold calling by sales reps who ask for your business details can often result in a large invoice being sent through the post, with claims that you have agreed to a directory entry.  Others may approach you at trader fairs.  Ensure that you and any staff you employ clearly point out that you only order such services in writing or by confirmation e-mail.  Do not agree to anything over the phone.

Adverts around maps  

This type of advertising can be useful.  However, a small number of rogue businesses have been known to exaggerate distribution figures and make false claims that they are working with the emergency services.  Make sure you have all facts and figures in writing.

PC virus repair 

Usually a person will receive an unsolicited phone call or email from someone purporting to be from a business linked to Microsoft to say they are aware that there is a virus in your computer system.

The firm will offer a “debugging” service for a fee.  These scammers frequently use mail forwarding addresses in the UK but are really based outside Europe.  This means it is difficult to pursue them should things go wrong. 

Your computer supplier may be able to help and advise on anti-virus software. 

Credit brokerage

People looking for finance will often use websites to find them a loan.  Some of these websites unscrupulously pass on names and phone numbers to rogues who will telephone you offering a loan for an advanced fee.  Be wary if this happens to you especially if the fee has to be paid via Western Union or Ukash.

If you are aware of anyone who has a personal debt with an unlicensed trader or loan shark you can report this to the Illegal Money Lending Team on their confidential number - 0300 555 2222.



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