Fake Bailiffs, counterfeit refunds and dodgy deals
Whilst we and our clients work hard to earn a decent living, not everyone is so conscientious. There are many out there who seek to make money by defrauding honest business people out of their hard-earned cash. In this blog post we cover a few of the things to watch out for.
Fake bailiff fraud
If you fail to pay your bills and get a court order against you, then you may end up with bailiffs pursuing you. However, to reach that point there will have to have been extensive correspondence first. That being the case, a call from the bailiffs is not something that should come out of the blue. If you do receive an unexpected call, it is likely to be a scam.
The caller will usually pick up your business details from your online advertising. To lend veracity to their claim, they will also claim to be an actual bailiff. Since the register of certified bailiffs is available to the public, it is easy for them to find a legitimate identity to hide behind.The caller will claim that your business has an unpaid debt (with online advertising now so prevalent, this will often be stated as owed to a Search Engine Optimisation company) which is now being pursued by the court. The intent is to panic the recipient of the call into making a payment immediately to prevent matters going further.
Never make payments to someone contacting you like this. Instead, verify their claims through the court they state is pursuing the matter.
Given the amount of money involved in tax, HMRC have been imitated by scammers for many years. The most common scam historically is to claim that you are due a tax refund. These scams have been sent both by e-mail and text. In both cases, they encourage you to log on to a linked website in order to get your refund sent to you. The e-mails will also usually include legitimate HMRC information, including logos and postal addresses. Unsurprisingly, the sites that are linked to are not part of HMRC. They will usually include parts of the real address but the main site will be entirely different.Any personal details entered on these sites will be used to try to steal an individual’s identity and cash. HMRC will never offer a refund or ask for personal details in an e-mail. If in doubt, always log in through the actual HMRC website or contact them through the telephone numbers found there.
Like the bailiff scam above, there has also been a recent upsurge in false telephone calls purporting to be from HMRC. These state that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against the recipient, telling them they can press 1 to speak to a caseworker to make a payment immediately. Again, terminating the call and contacting HMRC directly yourself if you are concerned is the correct response.
Offers too good to be true
The final thing we want to make you aware of is misleading business offers. One such is the World Business List, a company that offers a free listing in an international directory. At first glance this would seem to be a perfect deal, offering your business world-wide exposure at no cost. However, close examination of the fine print reveals that, whilst the initial listing is free, the deal is not. Read carefully and you will see that getting the free listing also entails entering into an annual 990 Euro subscription arrangement. This is for a minimum of 3 years, with automatic renewal beyond that date. As this is stated, albeit in very small writing, on the agreement it is possible that this could be treated as a valid contract if signed. This is made more complicated by the fact that the agreement states the jurisdiction applicable to the contract would be World Business List’s home country, Holland.
In both business and personal matters, paying attention to all aspects of any agreement can avoid nasty surprises.