Don't fall for the business directory scam
We first reported on the EU Business Register scam last year, although it had been swindling money out of companies long before that. The scam comes in several different flavours - the World Company Directory, for example - but the set-up remains the same; companies are emailed or faxed a form asking for their contact details, so they can be added to a business directory. The microscopic small print contracts the company to a subscription fee of up to a thousand Euros, usually for a minimum of three years. That the fee isn't mentioned in the main body of the form puts it on dodgy ground with all manner of trading regulations.
The reason we're highlighting this scam yet again, is because it's still as active as it was a year ago, and we still receive emails and comments about it on a weekly basis. One business that the scam is threatening with legal action has kindly emailed a link to a website called STOP EU Business Services Ltd. The site dates back to 2005 - it's incredible that this problem hasn't been tackled by the authorities yet - and it outlines the various methods that are used to try and extract money from businesses, and how you can register formal complaints.
It also offers advice to those being threatened with legal action for non-payment:
For legal reasons StopECG cannot issue advice either generally or to individuals on the issue of whether you should part with money based on the document you have signed. All we can do is appraise you of the situation as it stands and allow you to make up your own mind. We hope the notes below are of assistance.1. EU Company Directory / Euro Business Guide / European Business Connection have many companies on its books who have, or are disputing the validity of its contracts.
2. The debt collection agency used appears to no other function than to bully people in dispute with these companies. Threats of legal action have not been followed up and to date we have no evidence that anyone has been taken to court for refusal to pay.
3. Based on past rulings against similar documents this contract would almost certainly fail to stand up in a court, however you must accept that as it has not been challenged yet there is a small risk involved with refusal to pay.
Finally, there's a Facebook group for the website too. It's likely that most businesses will come across these rogues at some point. If somebody in your company has accidentally subscribed to their services, the best advice (although this isn't legal advice, obviously) seems to be to ignore them.