Bogus advertisers are conning businesses in to buying advertising space in publications that have little or no circulation.
Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service has received complaints from several businesses about bogus advertising companies that cold call and use high pressure sales techniques to get them to take advertising.
They use a variety of approaches to sell their advertising space, including:
Falsely claiming a link to a charity or good cause such as the Police, Fire or Ambulance Service
Claiming they have had a recent advertising cancellation and offering advertising space at half price.
Giving the publication a local name – even if the advertiser is based outside of the area.
The bogus advertisers use well rehearsed sales scripts and, as the calls are likely to be taped, these can be cut and pasted to give the impression that an oral contract has been agreed, even if the business declines the offer.
Businesses that have fallen victim to these scams and refused to pay have often been threatened with court action. However, in most cases they do not carry through with their threats because they are not operating within the law.
In a recent exception to this general rule, Warwickshire Trading Standards supported a local business who was sued by an unscrupulous advertising company. The business, with advice and assistance from the Service, defended the case in the Warwickshire County Court. Unsurprisingly, the advertising company did not appear in court, despite having initiated the litigation. Presumably this was because they could not prove a single copy had been distributed.
This was an example of a successfully defended case. However if credit card details have been given and money needs to be recovered there is little chance of success against the companies operating these scams.
Advice to Businesses
Think twice before agreeing to advertise with someone you don’t know
Don’t engage in a protracted conversation with any one you suspect to be a bogus advertiser. Just say ‘no thanks’ and put the phone down
Make sure your staff are aware of these sorts of scams and how they operate
Shop around for advertising space
For more information, visit our website http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards