Rogue Publishers

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Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning businesses to be aware of a scam in which rogue publishers are offering advertising space in a publication they claim they are producing on behalf of the Service.

The rogue publishers make unsolicited telephone calls to businesses, in particular small businesses, doctors' surgeries and dental practices offering advertising space in publications such as diaries, wall planners and crime prevention booklets.

The cost of the 'advert' can range from £50 to anything up to £1000. However, once you have paid you'll find the publication either doesn't exist or only a handful of copies are printed. Generally, if the call is bogus, the caller will only provide a PO box address and the phone number will be blocked.

Tim Bevington, Head of Planning, Performance and Communications for the Service, says: "We do not, as a rule, engage third party publishing companies to create publications and sell advertising space on our behalf. When we heard about this current scam from a vigilant Macclesfield business owner we took advice from Trading Standards and Consumer Direct NW, who work closely on consumer issues, on what to do to prevent being caught out by these rogue publishers."

If you receive an unsolicited call from a publishing company:

  • Don't agree to anything until you are given full details of the publishing company and what you will get for your money
  • Ask to see terms and conditions before agreeing anything
  • Read all small print of any contract carefully
  • Establish how many copies are being published, where they will be distributed and how, and where can you get hold of a copy' I
  • If you are told that someone from your company has already verbally agreed to place an advert get full details of who and when, and check with the member of staff before agreeing anything further
  • Ask which other companies in your area have taken advertising space and contact them to see if the caller is genuine
  • If you receive a demand for payment, which could be over the phone or via an 'invoice' respond to the demand stating why you do not owe any money

REMEMBER, a contract can be verbal so stop and think before you agree to anything

Businesses which may have been targeted in this way are urged to be extremely cautious and not to pay for or agree to place an advertisement without being completely certain of the authenticity of the publishing company. If an invoice or a demand for payment for an advertisement that's not been placed is received, please contact Consumer Direct NW on 03454 040506 as soon as possible.