Hang up on those cold caller scams

Northumberland County Council is urging small businesses to hang up on cold callers selling advertising in publications that claim to support the emergency services.

Monday, 25th April 2016, 13:18 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2016, 14:23 pm

The council’s business compliance and public safety unit issued the warning.

It comes after Trading Standards received complaints from businesses about the sales tactics of some telesales companies.

Some sales staff were even making false claims that businesses have already agreed to buy advertising space and demanding payment - when no such agreements have taken place.

The latest of these cold calling incidents involves callers declaring they are acting on behalf of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and selling advertising space.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mark McCarty, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with NFRS, said: “Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service do not sell advertising space or are involved in publications which do so. All businesses should be on guard if NFRS is used as a selling tool. Please do not agree with the caller and if necessary contact Trading Standards or NFRS to clarify any details or information.”

Councilor Dave Ledger, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, with responsibility for NFRS said: “We’re becoming increasingly alarmed by the callous lengths that some cold-calling telesales operations will go to, to get well meaning consumers and businesses to part with their hard-earned money.

“If a business has had a call from a company claiming that they have agreed to an advert in a publication, they should request evidence that they have entered into a contract with them, such as a tape recording of the initial sales call.”

David Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager added: “Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to these types of unfair business practice.

“We advise all businesses to be wary: don’t be pressured or tricked into agreeing to advertising you don’t want or into paying for something you haven’t requested.

Any business who has received one of these calls should report it by ringing the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or call Action Fraud on 0300 1235040.

Legitimate companies do exist but to reduce the risks of falling for cold call scams Trading Standards has the following tips:

• don’t take unsolicited calls when you are busy and can’t give the salesman your full attention – if you want to talk, ask them to call back at a convenient time

• don’t agree to something on the phone just to get rid of a persistent caller – legally binding agreements can be made over the phone

• be wary of unsolicited callers suggesting or implying that you are placing an order or entering an agreement when you don’t wish to do so.

• be wary of follow-up calls – you may think they’re just verifying details, but they may be trying to trick you into entering into an agreement

• if you’re not clear about any details, don’t be rushed – ask questions

• don’t be pressurised into paying for services you haven’t agreed to, that haven’t been provided or that don’t match those agreed to: if you are threatened with debt collectors or a credit black-listing, remember that ultimately only a court can decide whether you are liable to pay and disputes with another business will not necessarily affect your credit rating.