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Business directory fraud

What it is

When your business is offered free advertising by post, email or fax, but then billed for the service.

Protect yourself

  • Train your colleagues. Staff who deal with external communications need to be ready to challenge calls, letters and invoices.
  • If you receive an offer, do your research. Is the directory legitimate? Is the company offering you the listing registered with any trade bodies?
  • Check what arrangements you have with directories. Don’t pay the invoice without questioning it; fraudsters want you to assume it’s part of your company’s listings.

Spot the signs

  • You receive a call asking to verify your company’s details for a directory service.
  • You get a form offering a listing that needs to be returned completed to the sender whether you want to be listed or not.
  • Your company’s invoiced or issued final demands for a directory listing you don’t remember signing up to.

How it happens

Fraudsters send businesses a form in the post, by email or fax, appearing to offer a free listing in a business directory, either in a catalogue or online.

You’re asked to return the form even if you don’t want to place an order, but the small print states that by returning the form, you are committing to an order and will pay for entries in the directory.

This is kind of phishing or vishing fraud: the directory may not be as well-known as it claims, or has a very low number of copies in circulation, and in some cases doesn’t even exist.

Your company is then given a fake invoice which fraudsters hope will be paid without questioning. If your company queries the invoice, the bogus publisher may try to pose as a debt collection agency and send threatening letters.

How to report it

Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040.