Scams - Advertising Scams
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False advertising has been around since the beginning of retail trade. One company successfully sold advertising space on directory boards, which are placed in hotel lobbies with the promise of increasing the sales of the advertised companies. Each board advertised local businesses that might appeal to hotel guests, such as restaurants and airline offices. Guests could contact the advertised businesses by dialing a telephone attached to the board that was pre-programmed with a code for each advertised business. The directory board promoters promised a turnkey business with location assistance and sales support. This turned out to be a sham with no support services and no advertisements in prominent hotel locations. When the heat turned on them, they shifted base to different states and continued to operate under different names.
Another common fraud is Telefraud, where one receives a call from a company claiming payment for an advertisement placed in a magazine, journal or register. The scamsters take advantage of the victim’s good nature, forgetfulness or fear of legal action. Partnerships are vulnerable to this fraud since the fraudster will often claim that the other partner has sanctioned the advertisement. At times, they read out a genuine advertisement places in Yellow Pages and send a bill for the same. One way to avoid this is to call up the concerned company to verify the details of the advertisement supposedly booked. One must also strengthen one’s advertising records and controls to avoid confusion. A variation of this involves seeking entries for bogus international fax, telex or trade directories. The perpetrators can also send proposals for subscriptions disguised as invoices for entries on forged stationery. Sometimes people are led to believe that they are responding to an offer for a free entry, which actually entails payment.
Simple precautions can help one avoid such telecallers. One must always ask for a receipt for any payment made for advertisements. Only few people should be authorized to place or pay for advertisements or invoices and all incoming invoices must be thoroughly checked. A record of all authorizations must be maintained. Awareness is the only key to prevention such scams.
With the reach of the Internet, one must keep certain things in mind before purchasing advertising on the Internet. One must register with a site, which offers access to one’s target audience. One must verify the reputation of a search engine before signing up for their pay per click schemes. One must ask for a free trial account and testimonials from existing clients before finalizing a search engine. Enquiring about the company is the best way to avoid wasting one’s advertising budget and getting the desired results from the advertisements.
False advertising cases increase during the holidays, which are the prime shopping season, and people are at their gullible best. Often, the complaints against these advertising scams originate from jealous competitors who fear a loss of business. It is difficult to book the scamsters because they it is impossible to prove their malicious intent. The lengthy legal process also discourages people fro filing complaint especially if no loss of money is involved. Therefore, awareness is the only weapon against these various advertising scams.
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