UK Business Directory scammers have always been about, but you don't want to get caught in their trap. This blog will give you a few pointers to look out for and an example of how we handled them.
Please note we cannot provide telephone advice or assistance if you have been affected by this UK Business Directory Scam. We have written this article simply to raise awareness of the scam, and assure readers that they have done the right thing to ignore their threatening phone calls.
If you have been affected by this, the first step is to contact Consumer Direct and speak to them: 08454 040506.
And the second is to report them to Trading Standards
Your phone may be ringing, and those dreadful UK Business Directory scoundrels will be on the line. They tend to autodial companies in certain cities or in certain business sectors, so you may be next on the list.
Indeed, these may be threatening phone calls, saying they have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you, and that they are sending in the bailiffs.
These companies pop up under various names over the years: World Business Directory, EU Business Directory…
These are scams. They are deliberately misleading and there is no need for your business to pay to be in any of these directories.
Do not pay for their services. Do not agree anything over the phone, get everything in writing. Do not believe their threats over the phone. And even if it looks genuine, be sure to investigate their background.
The Office of Fair Trading website has a section on business directory scams
The scammers will typically insist on being paid over the phone, with an offer that expires in the next very few minutes. They are highly aggressive telephone canvassers, and my advice would be to simply hang up the phone. Better yet, say you need to put them on hold for a few minutes… and then just leave them there.
The sales people will usually claim:
- that the entry is now due for renewal (even if you have never paid before)
- that you have paid for the service before
- that you have already agreed to purchase the directory entry
- that they have spoken to one of your colleagues already
- that it is a “free” listing, but the sting in the tail is the paid listing in the print version.
They may also claim that you are currently owing thousands of pounds arising from renewals from an agreement you made years ago.
Update 16 October 2012: even more companies are coming forward with examples of this scam, and we are aware that police departments are reading our blog. Please keep adding your comments below.
We continue to raise awareness of this business directory scam, and if you have been affected by this issue, please contact your local Trading Standards.
Update: Company Case Studies
Following the publication of this post, I had a number of companies getting in touch regarding this scam.
They are all deeply concerned, and quite embarassed, about getting caught up in this kind of nasty activity.
A number of companies have agreed to allow me to reprint the information provided to me; I thought readers of this blog would find this interesting.
Please note that I have anonymised information about the victim company, but I have decided to leave the full details of the companies charging for the directory entries.
Case study 1: UK Business Directory Scam: he paid thousands: Click here to read the Internet Business Directory Scam case study (PDF)
Case study 2:
I received a call from Red Debt Collections or something similar to that name on Thursday 10th May 2012 saying I owed UK Business Directory Ltd over £1000 for internet advertising he gave me the name of Mr Michael Dewhurst at The UK BusinessDirectory and said I was to call him to discuss this outstanding amount, Mr Willow gave me a case reference number I called Mr Dewhurst who seemed to know exactly who I was and it was almost as if he was waiting for the call.
I asked Mr Dewhurst to send me a copy of the inital invoice, so I could make sure this was the same company that I paid in Oct 2010, and he asked me what address was on the invoice and I wouldnt tell him.
A copy of an invoice was sent which bore no resemblance to the original and he sent me a copy of the terms and conditions. Mr Dewhurst called me to make sure I had received the emails and to pressure me into paying saying if I paid before 12pm the next day he would let Red know the debt was cleared. I did not pay, but did send a letter, by special delivery, outlining my thoughts to the address on the final invoice which should have arrived yesterday morning and have received no response as yet.
The company names and addresses are :
Original Invoice received Oct 2010 UK Business Directory.co.uk Suite 5 Corporation Street Preston Lancashire PR1 2UQ 0845 543 9508
Copy Invoice sent Thursday 10th May 2012 Business Directory, No 1 Business Directory, The Crown Building, 10 Preston New Road, Blackburn, BB2 1AW (no tel No)
(This invoice is supposed to be an exact copy of the one above)
I emailed Mr Dewhurst office and told him that the copy invoice was completely different to the original, and that I was never told, nor does it say on the invoice or t & cs that the original charge was a quarterly charge I believed it was for a 2 year subscription. I did say in the email that I would pay the original charge again £99.98 plus VAT for the second year. The response I got was please call Mr Dewhurst to discuss. I was out of the office at the time and I had already sent the above mentioned special delivery letter.
Also I was emailed a cancellation reply form, which I have completed and sent to the address on it, which is also the address I sent my special delivery letter.
which is :
Business Directory Pages, 3rd Floor, 207 Regent Street, London, W18 3HH (no tel No)
The final Invoice for £969.12 (Mr Dewhurst said if I paid it he would deduct the £75 late payment fee!!!) address was the London address above.
On the final invoice are bank details.
All the above are related to the same company.
Yesterday I received a call from a guy called ‘Jorden my accounts manager’ from the internet directory who said I had paid them last year and the 2nd years payment is due. I didnt pay them (or anyone) last year and when I asked him what his company name was he said UK Business Profiles, I said thats not what you told me at the begining of the conversation he said internet directory is what we all say because its what we do! I asked him to call back in 20 minutes so I could find my copy of the invoice, he did not call back. I do not believe this is the same company as the one above.
Hope this information is of assistance to you and I will tell any other internet business companies to send me copies of all invoices, t & cs, contracts etc and that I will forward them to my solicitor, which I will do if necessary.
My reply to this company: steps you can take
This is a real mess, isn’t it?
The most important thing for you to do is to pay nothing. This is a scam, and it looks like you are now being targeted by other scams.
I recommend you can take 2 steps:
The first is to contact Consumer Direct and speak to them: 08454 040506.
And the second is to report them to Trading Standards