Firms warned over invoice scams

SMALL businesses in Suffolk are being urged to hang up on cold callers selling bogus advertising following a spate of calls in recent weeks. Suffolk Chamber and Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards department have put out the warning following a spate of calls across the country.

SMALL businesses in Suffolk are being urged to hang up on cold callers selling bogus advertising following a spate of calls in recent weeks.

Suffolk Chamber and Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards department have put out the warning following a spate of calls across the country.

They are advising firms to exercise extra vigilance to ensure realistic looking scam invoices are not paid as the holiday season gets under way, with regular staff taking leave and other people - who may not necessarily have the same experience - doing their jobs.

Complaints to trading standards offices centre on the tactics of telesales companies, in particular some making false claims about links to the emergency services or charitable organisations.


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One of the businesses targeted was James Goold of James Goold Heating and Plumbing in Stowmarket.

“It is disgusting how these companies operate. The company who contacted us said that some of the money we paid for advertising would benefit a children's charity,” he said.

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“Even though we wrote to these people saying we didn't want to take up their offer, we still received an invoice.

“Thankfully, we did not part with any money, but I'm sure other people are pressurised into paying the bill. The reality is that these crooks are unlikely to give a single penny to charities.

“The only people who benefit are the people running the scam. I would recommend any company who gets a similar letter or phone call to do nothing other than say no and find another way to donate money to charity.”

Suffolk Chamber said small businesses were “particularly vulnerable” to these types of unfair business practice.

“We advise all businesses to be wary - don't be pressurised or tricked into agreeing to advertising you don't want or into paying for something you haven't requested,” said a chamber spokesman.

Trading Standards has issued tips to reduce the risk of falling foul of scams. These include not taking unsolicited calls when you are busy, and not agreeing to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller as legally-binding agreements can be made over the phone.

They also warn businesses to be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting or implying that you are placing an order or entering an agreement, and of follow-up calls which may be to trick you into an agreement.

If you want information on this or any other scam, contact the dedicated business support advice line on 01473 581694

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