Scam warnings from the FSB
The information on this page is for information only and the list is not exhaustive.
European City Guide
Members in Surrey & West Sussex are once again receiving their Entry Updates.
Much has been written about the European City Guide so here is an update sent to the FSB Customer Services Team from a member who had battled hard against a similar guide some years ago:
Many small businesses are tricked into signing a document which they believe to be an application for a free entry in a Guide. It turns out to be a "contract" for 3 years, costing an average £500 per annum. Reluctance to pay initiates a period of harassment which may continue over a number of years.
On the website www.stopecg.org
you will find a comprehensive explanation on how these scams operate and what victims should do if they fall foul of one or other of them.
What businesses need to know is:
- They need not pay
- The "scamsters" have never taken anyone to court.
- They should report the incident to the Office of Fair Trading and write a letter of complaint to the Authorities in the country of origin of the scam. (This information can be found on www.stopecg.org)
The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) has recently issued the attached alert regarding the European City Guide.
Here are a few of the more prominent scam guides:
The European City Guide
The Fair Guide
Intercable Verlag AG
Novachannel - The Tourist Directory
The following scam aimed at small businesses has been sent to us by Mid-Sussex
District Council: It has come to our attention that local businesses are once again being targeted by organisations purporting to work for the Information Commissioners office. The latest document being circulated suggests that operators of CCTV systems must register with the Commissioner and pay a fee of £145 or face heavy fines.
We wish to make it clear that there is no obligation for businesses to register under the Freedom of Information Act and where they are obliged to register under the Data Protection Act the fee is always £35 and the Information Commissioner does not employ third party agents to collect registrations on its behalf nor does it send letters chasing for new registrations. If you receive such a letter and are unsure as to its validity please contact: he Commissioners Office on 01625 545740 or ring Corporate Information at Mid Sussex District Council on 01444 477204/477422.
Company Hijacking - from a London member:
A member has recently been the victim of Company Hijacking. Companies House has accepted a change of registered office form and change of Director's details from a fraudster. The member was alerted to the fact by Creditsafe last week.
Companies House claims they can not refuse to register any document delivered for registration if it is completed correctly and that they do not have the powers to verify or validate the information-including signatures-contained on them.
Companies House in an attempt to limit this type of company hijacking has two new measures in place that companies can use to protect themselves. PROOF (protected on-line filing) requires companies to register with a username and password and Companies House will only accept forms via electronic filing. Any paper forms received at Companies House will not be accepted. The other is the Monitor service. The service alerts companies who have registered within 24 hours of documents filed at Companies House, by sending an email notifying the company. This is a free service.
For more information and to register please visit Companies House website or ring 029 20 380670.
BUSINESS RATES VALUATIONS - BEWARE BOGUS VALUERS !
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has issued a warning to businesses to be wary of unsolicited approaches from companies offering - for a fee - to appeal against their new business rates valuation on their behalf.
New Rateable Values will apply to business properties from 1 April 2005 and there have been a number of cases, some of which have ended in the law courts, of businesses being targeted by 'rating cowboys'.
One such company falsely claimed that it could negotiate rate reductions for small companies in return for up-front fees of up to £700.
John Davies, Head of Business Law at ACCA, says: "Businesses should again be on the lookout for companies claiming to be able to save them money on their rates bill....Such offers should be treated with great caution, particularly given that businesses have the legal right to appeal against their new rateable value themselves, free of charge."
New Credit Card scam!
Credit card holders are once again being targeted for fraud. Credit card holders are rung by a ‘representative' from Visa or MasterCard Fraud Department. They go through a whole scenario; they know your address and your credit card number. They ask whether or not you have purchased an expensive item. When you say no, they say that they will start a fraud investigation on your account. BUT, they need to make sure you are still in possession of your credit card.
They then ask you for the 3-digit security code on the back of your card. This is fraud part of the scam. Both Visa and MasterCard verify that they will NEVER ask you for your 3-digit security code. They already know it! This number is used to prove that with on-line transactions that you are in possession of the card. Once you give your 3-digit code, the caller can then make internet purchases. This alert came from the Fraud Department of a City Bank.
BANKS/CREDIT CARD COMPANIES WILL NEVER ASK FOR ANY DETAILS OF YOUR CARD - THEY ALREADY KNOW IT - DO NOT DIVULGE THESE DETAILS TO ANYONE.
Bogus data protection company SCAM
Small businesses are facing an extra burden in the form of a bogus data protection company that is presenting itself as a Government Agency and charging a registration fee of around £111.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the company called Data Protection Agency Services Ltd,/ The Data Collection Enforcement Agency is sending official looking letters to unsuspecting businesses. These letters inform the recipient that they must register through Data Protection Agency Services Ltd under the Data Protection Act and threaten dire consequences for failing to do so.
There is no connection between the bogus company and the Government's own Data Protection Registry, now known as the Information Commissioner.
- Details of whether or not a business needs to notify under the 1998 Data Protection Act are available at the Data Protection website, or on the notification helpline 01625 545 740.
- If you need to register the current charge is an annual fee of £35 payable to the Information Commissioner.
- Data Protection Agency Services Limited is also trading as Data Collection Enforcement Agency.
ADDENDUM - The same scam in a different way
Having sent letters in the past, the Data Protection Act Registration Service, 51 Brackley, St Georges, Manchester M15 4FS are now e-mailing members in Surrey reminding them of their "legal responsibility to the Data Protection Act". They go on to say that the member is under no obligation to register through their service but they are able to process the application for them at the cost of £85.00 (which includes the government mandatory fee of £35.00).