Call to be on guard against ad scam

TRADING standards officers are urging local traders to be on their guard against an advertising scam.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards team has received a number of reports of advertising scammers trying to dupe businesses out of money for an advert they did not take out.

Traders either receive a phone call or a letter implying that they had agreed to advertise in a booklet or a wall planner some months earlier, and now the advertisers are seeking payment.

Some Hartlepool traders have also been contacted by people purporting to be from a debt collection agency who are demanding payment on behalf of the advertising company, without providing proof of the contract.

The basis of the scam is relying on busy businesses paying the debts without checking the details of the contract.

Traders have also reported similar scams where the alleged advertising company claims they have a telephone recording of the trader agreeing to the contract.

Rachael Byron, of the Hartlepool trading standards team, said urged businesses to be on the guard against the scam.

She said: “This is a common scam which seems to be increasing in popularity. Some traders have found that the advertisers stop pursuing them when confronted.

“Others have stood their ground after being sent further threatening letters and emails.”

For further advice call trading standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 08454 040506.