Con artists targeting businesses warns Trading Standards

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Derry businesses are being warned about the growing number of scams aimed at conning them out of money.

Damian Doherty from Trading Standards says there has been an alarming rise in the number of businesses being targeted by fraudsters across the north in recent months.

“While most of us think of scams as crimes against consumers, we tend to forget that businesses can fall victims to the rogues and conmen just as easily.

“Scamming businesses, both large and small, can be so profitable that many scammers now concentrate solely on targeting the business sector. Scams are a multi-million pound industry and businesses are often viewed as easy-pickings.”

He says scams are becoming increasingly well planned, well thought out and plausible and they can take the form of letters, emails, faxes, telephone calls and text messages.

“We see examples, on almost a daily basis, in which small businesses hand over money to the scammers without researching the service being offered, or finding out details about the company they are dealing with.

“Unfortunately, by the time the matter is reported to Trading Standards, the scammers have disappeared and it’s too late to get any money back.”

Mr Doherty says businesses can help protect themselves by making sure that staff know how to spot a scam and how to avoid being scammed.

Among the advice issued to companies by Trading Standards is to never agree to anything over the phone, ask questions if in doubt and have a limited number of authorised employees to approve purchases of goods and services, and ensure all other employees know that they can’t discuss ordering or payments.

Trading Standards say common cons include the Yellow pages scam - where a bogus company tries to lure unsuspecting business into paying for a listing in a false directory - and the charity scam, in which a telesales agent will call and ask if you want to place an advertisement in a publication for a seemingly good cause.

However, whatever they say they’ll be producing either never gets published, or in such small quantities that it’s of no use.

More information is available online at www.consumerline.org/reportascam