SMALL business trying to advertise their services are the new target for scammers.

Complaints have been received by the Worcestershire Regulatory Services about people offering advertising space in publications.

Tactics used by the scammers include cold calling by phone, email or in person, and using a name similar or identical to a genuine business or organisation.

They reportedly associate themselves with public bodies such as the police, charitable organisations or local schools, and will offer discounts for immediate agreement or ask for payments up-front. Previous telephone conversations are often replayed in an attempt to pressure businesses into believing they had agreed to a contract.

Services committee chairman councillor Lucy Hodgson said businesses were being advised not to pay money to any advertiser until simple background checks have been made using the internet or contacting the organisation directly.

“The advertiser should be able to provide proof of identity, copies of their previous publications and of any contracts with public bodies, charitable organisations or schools they claim to be working with.”

Local businesses may also receive speculative invoices for advertising they have not had, or agreed to.

“Before paying any invoices, businesses should make sure they have received the goods or service the invoice relates to,” she added.

Anyone with concerns or who may have been approached by a scammer should contact the Regulatory Services business advice team on 0845 3303313.