.

When looking to advertise in a trade magazine, be warned – Scammers are out there!

 You need to make sure that you remain vigilant and do not fall prey to their unscrupulous tactics, particularly when they contact you. Take the time to research any company offering advert space and beware of promises that seem too good to be true. Make sure that they are legitimate before you place an order or hand over any payment.

There are many legitimate trade magazines and e-zines where you can advertise your business or product, but it is important to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company. Ask for references and check online reviews before making any commitments. Scams can be hard to spot, so use caution when selecting an advertising partner.

I Got Burned. Over 3 Years.

I like to think that I have a pretty good radar for watching out for scams whether they be trying to obtain my data, personal information and so forth. However, this time I didn’t read or hear the warning signs and over 3 years I was pursued for payments.

Back in 2020, around the time of the pandemic my marketing company was heavily impacted as Boris announced the ‘closing of hospitality’. My company were niched into this sector and the impact was a near loss of all business over night. During this period of shock and trying to recover the business I was approached by phone by a company offering advertising space at a reasonable rate in a trade magazine to be sent to Local Authorities UK wide.

There would be a deposit, then regular payments to be featured in each Local Authority area that I had chosen. All sounded great so I pressed ahead and paid a deposit on the phone, sent my artwork, and waited for a ‘final for approval’.

Long Story Short

No final for approval, no magazine but irregular calls about once every 6 months requesting payments. I asked multiple times to see the Agreement, a copy of the publication(s) but each time they advised:

We don’t send you copies, and the phone call was a verbal agreement“.

I refused to pay anything further. Wind forward to 2023 – I receive a call from a Debt Collector, a bailiff, stating:

“Due to non-payment to the magazine, we have been appointed to recover goods from your premises to the value of £4,400 + £300 for the cost of our visit. If you do not pay you will be served with a CCJ”.

I went into panic, shock, concern……

Help from YBC Legal Advice Team

Once I pulled myself together, I called the Legal Advice Line, part of the YBC Members benefits within a few hours. They were amazing, gave me advice on what to do, what to say (or not) and reassured me.

I called and text the ‘bailiff’ (now with knowledge knowing that it was unlikely they were) but after leaving a voicemail stating “I have now taken legal advice….”. That was 3 weeks ago. They have never responded since.

Lessons Learned

  1. Not to make decisions under pressure, duress or on the phone.
  2. Request an Agreement in writing and research the Publication.
  3. Research Google to see if there have been any scams by a company purporting to be a publicist.
  4. If approached by a ‘bailiff’ ask for:
    • Case and Claim number.
    • Warrant number.
    • Which court this case was heard at.
    • Name of Bailiff, their company name, contact details (and check whilst on phone).
    • Copies of evidence, court documents etc.

Examples of Magazine Publications Advertising Scams

 Here are some common ones that I found on Google/Action Frauds’ website. Beware of anyone claiming to represent any of the following:

  • Charities
  • Rescue Services
  • 999 Services
  • Rehabilitation projects
  • Schools
  • Business directories
  • Website domain sellers

Conclusion

 I was lucky in the overall scheme of things, there was no basis to the claims, but it caused a huge amount of stress and upset. Others may not be so lucky and could feel pressured to make payment in a state of distress. Certainly, I learnt a lot from the experience, but I hope this article helps others to avoid going through the same experience or worse.

  • NEVER make a payment to a bailiff over the phone – this is not how it works. The Court would provide details of a number at the Court and a means of making payment. You can check the details are valid etc.
  • DO Contact YBC Legal Advice Line, they’re REALLY helpful.
  • DO check with the Central London County Court – they can advise if there is/has been a hearing that you are unaware of, a CCJ raised in your absence and which court. They were REALLY helpful.

Useful Contacts

  • YBC Legal Advice Helpline – YBC Members only
  • Central London County Court – 0300 123 5577
  • Citizens Advice Bureau – Gaining a Set Aside Order (search Google)
  • Action Fraud to report fraudulent activities like this0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm or online here: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime

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