Unauthorised advertising scam

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Video transcript: Unauthorised advertising scam (Word, 25KB)

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How the scam works

A scammer will call you or send you an invoice regarding an advertisement or listing in a publication.

The invoice may be:

  • for an advertisement that you did not order
  • for a publication that doesn’t exist or has limited distribution
  • using the details of an advert you previously ordered, but it is actually for a different publication
  • presented as a ‘free trial’ to list your business in their publication but may have hidden fees
  • a contract for services, disguised as an invoice.

This type of scam can also be referred to as a ‘false billing scam’.

If you authorised one of these advertisements and scammers are threatening you with legal action or debt collection notices, contact the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT may be able to issue you with an order that the debt is not owed.

Under the Australian Consumer Law, publishers must get written authorisation from businesses before placing advertisements.

Protect your business:

  • Organise your filing and accounting systems so you can easily detect bogus accounts or invoices.
  • Scammers may quote a genuine entry or advertisement you placed in a different publication or directory. Always check the invoice is for a publication you authorised.
  • Check to see whether the publication is genuine and ask for information about circulation.
  • If you receive a call from somebody claiming you owe money for an add you do not remember placing, do not feel intimidated to pay up - check that you have previously authorised the ad.