Local businesses are being urged to be wary of cold callers offering advertising space.
The Office of Fair Trading says telesales fraudsters have targeted one local business – and may target others.
Businesses are being urged not to agree to advertise in any publications supposedly endorsed by the emergency services, government or even charitable organisations without checking it is valid.
Chief Inspector of Trading Standards John Peet says: "Businesses do not enjoy the same level of protection from cold calling fraudsters as consumers do and need to be very vigilant to avoid being scammed."
They're urging people to adhere to the following advice:
• Don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the salesperson your full attention – if you want to discuss what is being offered, 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.
• Always check out any claims, for example, that a booklet, diary or wall planner is raising money for the emergency services or a charity.
• Always check that any endorsement supposedly given by an emergency service or a charity is legitimate.
• Before any agreement is signed, make sure you read all of the contents and fully understand what it is you are committing to – if you don’t understand it, seek advice from an advocate who specialises in commercial contract law.
• Don't be pressurised into paying for services that you haven’t agreed to, that haven’t been provided, or that don’t match what you 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.
• Be mindful of your computer systems being intercepted and keep security software up to date.
Businesses which think that they have lost money through a scam should contact their local police station and/or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 as soon as possible.