‘Charity Advertising’ or ‘Support Publishing’ is a term that is widely used to describe the sector of the advertising industry that publishes promotional literature on behalf of charities, the emergency services, schools and various other non-profit making organisations. This type of promotional literature usually offers commercial benefits in the form of advertising space that is available in these publications for businesses to purchase. These types of publications are usually in the format of handbooks, diaries, booklets, wallplanners and magazines.
There are some support publishing firms operating in this sector of the advertising industry that trade legitimately. However, like most industries, there are many fraudulent traders operating in this sector of the advertising industry as a result of the vast sums of wealth that can be accumulated quickly and easily by publishing firms that exploit this type of product. Millions of businesses across the UK have had to endure large numbers of unsolicited sponsorship sales telephone calls from unscrupulous support publishing firms that target them with deceptive sales methods to fraudulently coerce businesses in to placing charity adverts in their purported charitable publications.
These calls are extremely time consuming for businesses. The sales representatives that undertake charity advertising sales calls are very persistent and are trained to not take ‘no’ for an answer. Businesses can find themselves engaged on these calls for up to thirty minutes or more at a time. The highly trained callers can become argumentative and in some cases quite abusive if businesses attempt to resist the sponsorship opportunities being offered to them. If businesses terminate these sales calls, sales representatives will usually call back minutes later to confront these businesses. They can become quite intimidating and accuse businesses of backtracking out of promises of sponsoring a charity advert from previous conversations that in truth never actually took place. Others can be extremely agressive and will make threats of Court action and visits from bailiffs if businesses refuse to accept their demands.
Businesses often make donations to charity. This can be in the form of a direct donation, sponsoring a charitable event or purchasing a product where the proceeds go to a charity. Some businesses set an annual budget for this type of activity. Others simply agree upon request if they are approached by a worthy cause. Another form of donating to charity that most businesses are familiar with is the sponsoring of an advertisement in a publication produced by a charity. This commercial transaction helps worthy causes to raise funds and also gives businesses good exposure when readers notice these adverts and see that their business is one that supports worthy causes.
Businesses have received approaches of this nature for decades. It is quite common for businesses to receive approaches of this nature from genuine charities several times a year. In many instances, businesses will politely refuse these requests and in other instances will agree agree to sponsor a worthy cause through an advertisement in one of their publications. This could be literature that a worthy cause may sell through its charitable outlets or be handing out to individuals at forthcoming fundraising events. It may be a monthly newsletter or magazine the worthy cause sends out to subscribers.
Unscrupulous support publishing firms are aware of this type of commercial activity between businesses and charities and it is the driving force behind the scams they have developed. These scams have been developed to make quick and easy money. Operators know that businesses like to be seen to be supporting charity and know that if they approach enough businesses pretending to be raising money for a worthy cause and pull on their heart strings enough, they will turnover millions of pounds. These types of approaches that businesses receive from genuine charities is what unscrupulous support publishing firms use to their advantage. They will contact businesses on the pretence that they are one of the worthy causes that has approached them previously. Operators know that businesses will believe this claim because they receive calls of this nature on a regular basis from genuine charities.
The unscrupulous support publishing firm will either inform businesses that they kindly declined their offer at the time but promised they would sponsor their charity if they called back several months later or will blatantly inform businesses they they did in fact agree to sponsor their worthy cause at the time and are now ready to publish their advertisement as agreed. Quite often, unsuspecting businesses will fall for this deception and not realise they have been scammed. If businesses resist such a claim or cannot recall such a conversation taking place, the unscrupulous firm will inform businesses that the conversation they previously had with their firm was verbally recorded on to their IT equipment and that they have entered in to a legally binding verbal contract that cannot be cancelled because their statutory cooling off period to cancel the order has expired.
If businesses request to hear the alleged verbal recordings, they are usually deviously informed that their legal department has posession of the recording and it can only be retrived from the archives to be played in a HM Court to a District Judge. This response is designed to leave businesses in a worried and confused state and gives the unscrupulous firm an advantage and excuse to not have to provide any proof of contract to businesses. This leaves businesses in a very apprehensive state whether to take the firms’ word and pay-up or to risk being took to Court and have a County Court Judgement entered against their business and receive much higher costs.
Businesses may not be able to recall an alleged conversation from months earlier and realise that if they do not pay the firm and are then taken to Court, it could be very costly for them if it is proven that they did place an order. The end result is businesses are forced in to a commercial dispute that is then followed up with a series of threatening telephone calls and overdue account payment demands until they eventually submit and forward payment to these firms. These bogus orders usually range from around £100 – £2000 +, depending on the size of the business being targeted. TAPA receives many reports of businesses paying out as much as £4000+ per year to these types of firms and in some cases this figure is even higher. Although the problem for some businesses may not be as great as this, many small firms are being forced to pay out hundreds of pounds that they cannot afford.
Another common scam that support publishing firms operate is to send an invoice to businesses without actually contacting them initially by telephone first. Known in the industry as the ‘reverse pitch’, the idea behind this psychological trick is to get businesses to contact the support publishing firm by way of telephone instead of the support publishing firm contacting the businesses. These firms know that sending a random invoice to a business will provoke a reaction resulting in the business contacting their firm to enquire why they have received an invoice. At this point, businesses will be informed that the invoice is in relation to an order that was placed several months earlier etc, that cannot be cancelled as the statutory cooling off period has expired. If operators are accused of underhand behaviour, they will inform businesses that it is absurd to suggest that they would simply issue an invoice to a business that has not placed an order with their firm and that obviously an order has been placed.
Although businesses are shocked to hear this and are certain they have not placed an order, the pressure they then receive from the sales representative that takes their enquiry in conjunction with the fact they probably assume a firm would surely not just issue a business with an invoice unless an order had been genuinely placed is enough for businesses to question their memory and find themselves accepting these invoices. Businesses usually only realise they have been swindled when another firm tries the same trick at a later date. This simple deception is so blatant that larger firms that receive high volumes of purchase invoices every month will pay these invoices without even realising that these invoices are bogus.
Other scams in operation include support publishing firms stating that they are calling ‘out of courtesy’ from the ‘Customer Services Department’ to clarify whether the business was aware that they had placed multiple orders with various sales representatives working at different branches within their group, on a multitude of different publications or have placed duplicate bookings with various sales representatives within their group in the same publications where they now have several outstanding invoices due to be issued to them that total the sum of £1,500.00 for example.
The caller will inform the business that they accept that they may have placed these multiple orders in error and that they may have thought each sales call they received from within their group was regarding the same advertisement. Businesses are usually informed at this point that although their firm is not very pleased about the situation, they are prepared to consolidate all of the orders in to one revised invoice for £499.00 for example, providing the business discharges the debt within seven days.
Businesses are informed at this point that they will have to go through another recorded booking to override the other orders they have previously placed in order to legally accept the revised bill. Businesses are left believing that they have received a huge favour and gladly confirm the revised booking. In actual fact, the business did not have any outstanding orders with the firm at all and without realising it, have been duped by a sales representative in to placing an order for an expensive advertisement they did not require or had agreed to.
Another popular scam in operation is where the caller advises businesses that they are calling from the ‘Database Removal Service / DRS’ (or other similar bogus body) stating they can remove their business details from all of the ‘National Databases’ available to support publishing firms in order to stop future sales calls being made to their business. In the belief that the caller has the commercial ability to remove their business details from all of the databases available to telemarketing firms to prevent future charity advertising telephone sales calls being made to their business, they agree to pay an expensive fee to the firm to undertake this task.
In actual fact, support publishing firms do not obtain data / leads from these types of databases at all. They obtain lead sources from rival firms that sell their databases of businesses they have scammed in the past for huge sums of money. Prospective purchasers are aware that these businesses may be likely to fall for the same scam again from a different support publishing firm. It is a far better lead source for their sales representatives than random businesses that may not have had these types of dealings before and may not know what these firms are talking about. Other operators simply set up different trading names and hit their previous victims again. This particular scam is designed to take advantage of businesses desperation that want to stop receiving these types of sales calls.
If businesses employ a secretary or a receptionist to handle incoming telephone calls as part of their duties, these members of staff can frequently find themselves in confrontational situations with sales callers from support publishing firms that demand they bring the proprietor or manager to the telephone regarding an alleged confidential matter. If the secretary informs the caller that the manager is not available, the caller will usually call back at regular intervals until the required person is available to speak to them.
If the secretary challenges the caller they can find themselves on the receiving end of verbal abuse and threats. If the business later attempts to trace the callers’ telephone number they usually find that the caller withheld their telephone number so that the business cannot identify where the call came from. If support publishing firms obtain the mobile telephone number of the proprietor or the person in charge of the business, the quantity of calls made to their mobile telephone can be staggering. If they inform these callers that they are on site or in a meeting and are concentrating on an important task they are undertaking, the sales representatives are trained to take full advantage of the fact that they are busy and execute their sales pitch whilst they are most vulnerable. Sales representatives usually withhold their telephone number to catch their targets off guard. If the recipient attempts to terminate the call, the sales representatives will continue to ring back until the recipient answers their telephone again and listens to what they have to say or until they turn their telephone off. This can have a serious impact on their business as they could miss a very important call as a result of turning off their mobile telephone.
If a business person works from home and one of their loved ones answers the home telephone line which they also use for their business, they too can find themselves being intimidated or abused by a sales person demanding to speak to the required person. They can be called a liar if they inform the caller that the person they need to speak to is not at home or unavailable or they may be informed to pass on a message that a bailiff will come to the house to repossess items if a payment is not immediately sent to their firm. The callers will even ask the person that answers the telephone call to pay the account on behalf of the alleged debtor on their credit card over the telephone.
If businesses report a complaint to Consumer Direct or Trading Standards, the problem does not go away. These organisations will give businesses clear, practical advice regarding their legal and statutory rights and they do investigate firms as a result of large numbers of complaints they receive. If they contact a support publishing firm they have received a complaint against and they deny the allegations the business has made against them, their is not a lot more that these organisations can do at this stage. Support publishing firms are lawfully permitted to continue to contact the complainant to request monies they believe are lawfully entitled to them and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, these organisations cannot stop future unsolicited sales telephone calls from support publishing firms being made to businesses either. Support publishing firms are lawfully permitted to contact any telephone number they wish to providing the numbers they dial are not entered on to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) central opt out register. However, most support publishing firms do not take any notice of that either because of the associated costs involved in checking the TPS register. Every week more of these types of firms are starting up and unsolicited sales telephone calls to businesses continue to increase.
Another option available to businesses is to instruct a solicitor to legally dispute a bogus payment demand they have received. However, the problem with this course of action is the associated costs involved. To subsidise just one hour of a solicitors’ time to enter in to litigation on their behalf can be more costly than the invoice in question. This leaves businesses backed in to a corner because even if their solicitor achieves success, they still lose out as they have to settle the legal bill instead which can be even greater than the advertising invoice itself. It is usually cheaper to just pay the invoice and support publishing firms are aware of and play on this. Furthermore, if businesses employ a solicitor that successfully gets an invoice withdrawn, what does the business do when they receive another bogus invoice from another support publishing firm a week later and the month after? Do they subsidise the legal process over and over again?
One of the biggest problems with support publishing firms is credit card fraud. Hundreds of businesses have informed TAPA that after paying invoices from support publishing firms by way of card, larger sums of money have debited from their account than agreed. When businesses challenge firms they are often advised that this was due to overdue account charges or are informed it was an innocent error. At later dates many support publishing firms debit businesses cards again claiming it stated in the terms and conditions of contract that advertisemnents would be repeated monthly or annually until the business provided written cancellation to the firm. If businesses fail to check their bank statements for several months they can find multiple debits to their cards.
Furthermore, TAPA has been informed by businesses that after settling invoices by way of card over the telephone with support publishing firms, they have noticed at later stages in the year strange transactions appearing on their credit card statements where their details have been used to make fraudulent transactions over the internet for goods. This often only seems to happen after they have paid a support publishing firm by way of card. When businesses appoint TAPA, our practice demonstrates how they can recover payments they have made to these firms hassle free, regardless of how recent the payment was made and regardless of how many invoices they have paid. Even if the firms no longer exist or have gone in to liquidation, TAPA shows businesses how to recover their money through acts of parliament and banking rules.
One of the most frequent complaints TAPA receives from businesses after they have paid one of these types of invoices is that they do not receive a copy of the publication their advertisement was supposed to feature on. When they contact the support publishing firm to enquire what the position is, they are usually informed that the publication has been printed and that a copy of it was sent to them but must have been lost in the post. When they request an additional copy to be sent to them they are usually either informed there will be an extra charge for an additional copy to be sent out to them or they are promised another one will be sent again that coincidentally never arrives. The other response businesses receive is they are informed the publication is not due to be printed for another few months yet and to call back at a later stage or worse still, the telephone line for the firm has been disconnected.
TAPA has found that most of the individuals that own unscrupulous support publishing firms are not experienced professional advertising executives that have graphic design and publishing knowledge. They are more often than not, amateur sales people who are looking to make a ‘quick buck’ that no longer want to work for someone else. They are experts at coercing people to send money to them but when it comes to designing, researching, laying out, printing and distributing a publication, they have no idea, knowledge or understanding of how to even begin this task. In the rare cases where the publications are produced, generally the finish to them tend to be very juvenile, amateurish and are of very poor quality, cheaply produced, containing poor grammar, bad images and virtually useless information. Furthermore, the distribution of these publications are usually limited to the advertisers contained in there.
Passwords / Security Codes
One of the most popular scams that support publishing firms operate is to ask businesses for a password to put on to their account after they have enticed them in to placing an order. They will claim it is for ‘security reasons’. Unwittingly, businesses will issue these firms with a word or number that is memorable only to themselves. This password will then be printed on to the documentation that these firms send out to businesses. The reason for this is operators are aware that businesses receive lots of bogus invoices from support publishing firms and therefore try to distinguish their invoice as a genuine one by featuring their password on there.
Unknown to businesses, operators often have several different trading names under different addresses that do not appear to be connected with one another. Operators will then arrange for their sales representatives to contact the same businesses again a few months later under the alias of one of these other trading styles or other companies they have in place. They will then execute the scam we discussed earlier where they inform businesses that they agreed to sponsor their charitable publication several months earlier. If businesses deny their claims, the sales representatives will at this point issue the password they have from the other order and decieve businesses in to believing they obtained this password from them in a previous conversation.
At this point, businesses are left bewildered as to how the sales representative has been able to quote this password, leaving them assuming that they must have given the password to them when they placed this alleged order with their firm. It is not only the owners of these firms operating this scam but also the sales representatives that work for them. They also liaise with sales representatives from rival firms and swap business data with one another so that they can then scam the same businesses again using their secret passwords through these other firms. Sales people also regularly move from one support publishing firm to another, taking with them the passwords they obtained from businesses when they scammed them at these firms so that they can scam them again through these different firms and earn the commission again.
An additional scam is often operated by support publishing firms that go on to produce their publications. When these firms distribute a copy of the publication to each of the advertisers contained in there, they will usually send out a duplicate invoice with the publication that the advertisers have already paid. This scam is operated in the hope that businesses will assume that the invoice requires a payment by return and unwittingly forward another payment to the firm without realising it is actually a copy of an invoice that has already been paid. This scam is successful because support publishing firms often do not go to print for as long as twelve months or more from the time when businesses agree to sponsor the publications. This time frame is long enough for some businesses to forget they have already paid.
When businesses realise they have already paid the invoice and contact the firm to demand an explanation, they are quickly informed that the invoice was included as a matter of company procedure to highlight the advert details from when the order was originally placed. Firms that operate this scam will not usually chase the advertisers for payment a second time because they know that the advertiser will probably be aware that they have already paid the invoice and may report their firm to an authority if they attempt to scam them again. In any case, support publishing firms understand that the advertiser will be able to check their accounting records if they are accused otherwise.
However, in certain cases, greedy firms will chase the advertiser for a second payment until they are caught out. They will apologise at this stage and claim the mistake was made due to a computer error. Quite alarmingly, our research has found that approximately 20% of advertisers that receive an invoice with a publication will unwittingly pay the invoice again, not realising they have already paid it. If a business forwards another payment and later realises their error, trying to recover the money can be a near impossible task, usually undertook in vain. Support publishing firms are not in the business of paying money out and will do their utmost to delay refunding a payment as long as possible in the hope that businesses will eventually give up attempting to recover their money.
The biggest mystery for most businesses that receive sales telephone calls from support publishing firms is where these firms obtained their details from. Businesses that receive these types of sales calls tend to believe that support publishing firms work from databases obtained on the internet and from business data suppliers. Contrary to popular belief, these assumptions are not entirely true. The sales representatives mainly acquire businesses details from publications produced by rival support publishing firms.
These publications are usually riddled with advertisements that businesses have sponsored as a result of being approach by the support publishing firms that produced these publications. Rival firms know that these businesses have obviously agreed to sponsor advertising space over the telephone before with rival firms and are therefore deemed as easy targets to approach. In order to obtain these publications, sales representatives contact the same businesses they have sold advertising space to previously to search for businesses that may possess publications they have received from rival firms that they do not require. This is the single most important lifeline to support publishing firms that want to achieve the highest turnovers and for the sales representatives that want to achieve the most commission.
There is a far greater success rate working these leads as oppose to contacting businesses from other lead sources such as Yell.com etc, where businesses in these types of sources can be much harder to achieve bookings from. If the businesses contained in these alternative lead sources have never placed orders with telephone canvassers before, they might not like the idea of agreeing to buy advertising space over the telephone off a firm they have never heard of before. Bookings will still be achieved when working these types of leads but the success rate is far lower in comparison. It is much harder for support publishing firms to scam businesses in to believing they previously agreed to sponsor a charitable publication if they have never been involved in such a transaction before.
Naturally, support publishing firms have to generate fresh business from these other lead sources as well where businesses have not been involved in charitable advertising before because leads would eventually dry up if they did not. However, the booking rate when contacting businesses from rival publications can be as high as 80% or more of the total number of businesses contained in these publications for experienced sales representatives using the most common deceptive sales methods. Sales representatives know approximately what price to go in with when calling these businesses based on the size of the advert the businesses feature on in the publications they are working from. This is because most of the firms throughout the industry have similar pricing strategies based on advert size.
When a sales representative finds a business that possesses publications that is prepared to give them away, the sales person will arrange for a courier to collect or ‘pick-up’ these publications from the donor businesses. This procedure of generating leads is known throughout the industry as getting ‘Pick-Ups’. When the sales representatives contact businesses searching for ‘Pick-Ups’, they will use a whole range of sales pitches to explain why they require these publications. Usually they will fraudulently claim they are calling from a government agency, looking to gather evidence against rogue support publishing firms that they are currently investigating. The innocent donor believes that by handing these publications over to the caller, they are doing a good turn, assisting official investigators and providing them with evidence. Some firms will claim the publications are needed for a recycling campaign or required in order to get their business details removed from databases if they want to reduce sales calls to their businesses.
Most businesses are happy to help and willingly hand over publications they have in their possession in the faith it will contribute to shutting down the very same rogue firms that have fraudulently taken money from their businesses. What they are actually doing is lead supplying rogue traders and helping them to scam businesses again that have probably already been scammed by the firm that produced the publication their details are in. The sales representatives will offer to send a courier at their own expense, allegedly to not inconvenience the donor with having to subsidise sending the publications themselves. The real reason why they subsidise the courier themselves is so that the donors do not find out the true destination of where the publications are actually going to.
The donors do not realise what is happening before their very eyes. The courier arrives at their business premises, collects the publications and drives away, leaving the donor none the wiser of where the publications are actually heading to. The donors are left believing the publications are on their way to an investigative authority or other honourable destination when in actual fact they are on their way to a support publishing firm. One publication alone can be worth thousands of pounds to these firms. Without realising it, businesses are assisting support publishing firms to target more innocent victims that will suffer further with more sales calls to their businesses and have more money defrauded from them.
What the donor also does not realise is that their details will be in the publication they have given away as well and will generate even more sales calls to their businesses. Once sales representatives have finished with these publications, they are passed on to new sales representatives that join their firm in the future that will ring through these publications again and again for practice. It is a vicious cycle that begins with naive businesses being scammed in to paying for advertisements they do not require that offer no commercial benefit to their businesses and then the same businesses helping support publishing firms to move on and defraud other businesses.
The Cooling Off Period
When businesses are coerced in to placing an order with a support publishing firm, they soon realise that the delivery of the paperwork can be a slow process. Lots of firms deliberately send invoices out late to businesses so that their statutory cooling off period to cancel the order has almost or fully expired by the time the paperwork arrives on their doorstep, giving them little or no time at all to cancel the order. If businesses attempt to cancel the order and the cooling off period has expired through no fault of their own and they contact the sender to explain they have not had their legal entitlement to a proper cooling off period, they will soon realise they are wasting their time.
Support publishing firms will use reverse psychology, claiming the business is making the story up in an attempt to buy more time to cancel their order because their financial circumstances may have now changed or that Royal Mail may have let them down which is not their fault. Representatives will explain that that their hands are tied and that there is nothing they can do as their manager will not make any exceptions and therefore the bill will have to be paid. If businesses request to speak to a supervisor, they will either be informed that there is no point in doing so or if they are put through will usually be advised the very same by them. Businesses are left in a position where they can either refuse to pay these firms or give in and settle the invoices. After months of threatening telephone calls and written correspondence, they usually give up.
The majority of support publishing firms operate from the Greater Manchester and Merseyside areas. Manchester is nationally recognised as the capital of support publishing scams, with the cities of Liverpool and Chester following closely in second and third place. However, there are other firms emerging in small groups throughout other areas of the UK. Although still mainly operating from the North West, operators are now appearing in parts of Warrington, Bolton, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Stockport, Wigan, Blackpool, Preston and London. Surprisingly, London has still not emerged as a densely populated area of support publishing firms.
The industry has been thriving for over 20 years and some thought that the capital would eventually become the geographical market leader. Nevertheless, The number of support publishing firms in Manchester and Liverpool is still growing at an alarming rate. TAPA has received complaints against over 400 support publishing firms. There are still only a handful of firms operating in Greater London and we know through our research that even these operations are only in existence due to the roots of these firms having very strong links to operators that are behind the management of firms trading in Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Many firms that are allegedly based in these other areas of the UK are in fact firms that are trading from Manchester and Liverpool that are using these foreign addresses as a front to hide the true location of their operations in an attempt to disassociate themselves from the bad reputation associated with support publishing firms based in these areas.
Individuals that operate support publishing firms in Manchester and Liverpool are aware that the two cities have developed a bad reputation of being scam hot spots as a result of reports in the national press regarding lots of firms trading in these areas that have been wound up in the High Court for trading dishonestly. This negative press has had a damaging financial impact on their operations because these reports have influenced businesses to refuse to pay invoices they have received from firms based in these areas. It has also become a lot harder for firms based in Manchester and Liverpool to generate fresh bookings from businesses because in many cases they have previously been ripped off by firms based in these areas.
Operators believe that by broadcasting these low-key addresses on to their literature, businesses will assume a more legitimate opinion of their firm based on the fact that they are in a geographical location not associated with the surrounding areas of Greater Manchester and Liverpool, resulting in an increase in new orders and an increase in businesses paying invoices more promptly. To avoid having to rent expensive business premises, firms will usually rent a PO Box address provided through Royal Mail or will subscribe to a private mailing address. This cost effective system is a very valuable tool for two reasons. Firstly, operators can trade under as many names as they wish, each allegedly based in different parts of the country at very little cost to themselves. Secondly, operators do not incur the expense of having to rent and manage lots of different office accommodation up and down the country that would be a huge financial burden to their operations.
Under this system, firms can keep approaching the same businesses over and over again, achieving multiple payments from the same businesses that are under the impression they are dealing with lots of different firms. This is the reason why most businesses that agree to place one order with a support publishing firm usually find themselves suddenly bombarded with approaches from what they believe to be lots of different support publishing firms. This system is also useful for operators that work from home that want to assume a more professional profile and keep their home address anonymous. PO Box addresses can be obtained anywhere in the country through Royal Mail and other private mailbox firms. If businesses are in receipt of an invoice that is headed under a PO Box address, they can obtain the originators personal name and address from Royal Mail. This data is public information and is readily available to anyone that requests these details.
Support publishing firms base the theme of their publications on charitable issues such as the misfortune of disabled children or a department of the emergency services such as the Police, Fire or Ambulance service. They will decide on a publication format such as a magazine, Diary, Hand Book or wallplanner for example, and then decide on the theme. If they choose to go down the route of the public services theme they may produce a publication that promotes awareness of fire safety in the home, first aid advice in the workplace or personal crime prevention issues. If firms decide to go down the charity route, the theme they may produce a publication that promotes child safety awareness, disability awareness or educational issues.
These firms will entitle their publications names such as; ‘The Child Safety Magazine’, or ‘The Books for Schools Campaign’, ‘The Disability Awareness Guide’, ‘The 999 Awareness Wallplanner’, ‘The Crime Prevention Yearbook’ or ‘The Emergency Services Manual’. When sales representatives contact businesses they will claim their firm is affiliated to official charitable and governmental bodies and will claim they are working in association with the Police or the Fire Brigade or on behalf of a registered charity that has appointed their firm as their official fundraising team to promote awareness of their organisations’ issues. In truth, the large majority of support publishing firms have no official association with these types of organisations at all and have not been contracted or licensed to produce these publications on their behalf.
Most operators exploit legal loopholes in the law that allow them to publish this type of unofficial material. They do not need permission to produce literature regarding these types of issues from any authority or governing body. They can produce basic literature regarding the work that the public services and charitable organisations undertake lawfully and generate vast financial gains through the promotion of advertising space they make available in these publications. Businesses may have noticed in the past that when they receive an invoice from one of these types of firms, they are never asked to make the cheque payable to the Police or the registered charity itself but in fact to the name of their firm. What these firms inform businesses over the telephone and what they state on their documentation are two completely different things. Businesses will notice that most of the verbal claims these firms make are never stated in writing in their terms and conditions of contract.
Operators will choose very misleading and suggestive names as their trading styles and their bank accounts. For example they may set up a firm with a name such as; ‘The Local Community Safety Support Project Ltd’, ‘Stop Crime Locally Ltd’ or ”Disabled Kids UK’. It is perfectly legal to register virtually any name at all as a limited company providing it has not already been taken by someone else and companies can be set up and registered within 24hrs. The banking facility can then be set up the very next day with the company Incorporation Certificate. When businesses have been duped in to placing an order with one of these firms they should have also noticed when they received the paperwork from the firm that the design of the letterhead will give the impression that they are a fund raising firm by using clever misleading wording that they insert on there and the use of suggestive images and pictures in the background. This could be an image of a child or an image of an emergency service worker in action. This practice is aimed to give businesses the impression that the firm is a genuine fundraiser.
If there is no registered charity number on the paperwork or no specific division of the Police, Ambulance or Fire service stated on there, it is a tell tale sign that it is a scam. Even in rare cases where firms do quote a specific charity name and charity number on their documentation it still does not necessarily prove they are genuine. Some firms will illegally falsify charity names and numbers on to their paperwork or may have approached a charity and entered in to an agreement with them but may sell the product to businesses in a misleading fashion that the charity has not sanctioned or is aware of. Even if support publishing firms do forward monies to charity, the beneficiary will never receive anywhere near the same amount that the firm turned over from the sale of advertising space.
Even if the firm is a genuine contracted firm that is an official fundraiser, they still have to subsidise the telephone bills they generate when making the sales telephone calls, the rent for the premises they are working from, the stationary costs, the costs to employ graphic designers to produce and design artwork, IT equipment, the publication design and layout costs, the printing and distribution costs, postage, utility bills and most importantly the salaries of the operatives undertaking the sales calls who work for these firms. These costs all have to be deducted from the income they generate before passing on the remainder to any charitable causes.
Even if all of the remaining profit is genuinely passed to a charity after the costs have been deducted, the figure the charity eventually receives is nowhere near anything like the amount of capital that was actually turned over by these firms. For the avoidance of doubt, if a business decides in the future to donate money to a charity, they should always donate the funds direct to the charity itself and not through a middleman for the peace of mind that 100% of the money they send will go directly in to the charities’ central funds.
TAPA’s Aims and Objectives
TAPA’s primary function is to prevent unsolicited advertising sales telephone calls being made to UK business consumers that do not wish to receive these types of sales calls. TAPA is the legally appointed representatives of the business consumers registered on The TAPA Opt Out Ledger and investigates any unsolicited advertising sales approaches made verbally or in writing to these businesses to ensure they do not become victims of fraud. If registered business consumers find themselves in receipt of any unsolicited advertising sales calls or improper demands for payment at any time, TAPA will make representation on behalf of these businesses where necessary to ensure that the firms responsible withdraw their demands and do not make any further unsolicited approaches to these business consumers at any time.
TAPA helps to achieve this objective by also subsidising the cost of legal representation where required. TAPA’s secondary function is to monitor the trading practices of advertising firms that our firm receives complaints against. If we receive a complaint against a particular advertising firm for the first time, TAPA documents an official record of the complaint and creates an individual dossier for that advertising firm. From that point onwards, each time TAPA receives a complaint regarding the same advertising firm, TAPA adds the subsequent official complaint records to the offending advertising firm’s individual dossier, in order for TAPA to monitor the number and the type of complaints being made against that particular firm.
Where the number of complaints TAPA receives against any one particular advertising firm achieves a level of concern in the interest of public safety, TAPA will present a report to Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) where the concern is regarding a limited company or to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) where the concern is regarding a non-limited status firm, detailing our findings together with copies of the complaints we have received from our clients. These government agencies will give consideration to any reports they receive from TAPA. When an advertising firm is the subject of a government investigation and sufficient evidence is found to suggest the firms’ accounting or trading practices are in breach of their legal obligations, a case is usually brought to the High Court regarding the offending firm to wind it up and put the firm in to involuntary insolvency.
Advertising firms across the UK are aware of TAPA’s role and duties. They understand that if they contact any businesses that are entered on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger, clients will report official complaints to TAPA and in a very short space of time will have action started against them. TAPA make’s no exceptions and gives no consideration to any counter claims from advertising firms that may attempt to prevent action being taken against their firm. It is for this very reason that advertising firms will not contact businesses entered on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger. They do not want to bring any unnecessary attention to their firm. Advertising firms are not concerned about not being able to contact businesses entered on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger because there are millions of other business consumers across the UK that they can contact to sell their products to.
Entering your details on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger will bring unsolicited advertising sales approaches to an end. The TAPA Opt Out Ledger is published online on our website for all advertising firms to log on to each day in order to update and edit their call lists accordingly against the businesses that are entered on to the Ledger. The TAPA Opt Out Ledger is indexed in alphabetical order for quick reference and makes it very easy to use.
When a business consumer enters their details on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger, TAPA will also deal with any existing issues or disputes any new clients are already involved in prior to becoming a client of TAPA, regardless of the quantity or the age of these disputes. We ask new clients to simply forward any bogus payment demands and invoices they are in receipt of to TAPA after they have received their Welcome Pack. TAPA ensures new clients will not have to deal with these firms themselves from this point onwards and will not have to forward payment to them. TAPA will also show new clients how to recover any payments they have made to advertising firms over recent years where they feel they may have been ripped off or if they feel they did not receive the appropriate goods or services they should have or feel they did not place a legally binding order at the time with these firms.
Regardless of how frequently our clients request our support, TAPA is on standby 24 hrs per day, 365 days per year. TAPA provides a Helpline number during normal working hours for general day-to-day issues that may arise for our clients. We also provide online support through our website. All TAPA clients are provided with an appointed representative to give them a familiar point of contact and someone who is aware of their personal circumstances at all times. Clients are provided with an emergency mobile telephone number direct to their appointed representative in case they need emergency assistance out of usual business hours. Clients have the freedom to contact their appointed representative as often as they need to, in and out of usual business hours.
Clients have the assurance that they can always speak to somebody at any time of the day, any day of the year. TAPA also keeps a dossier for each of its clients to diary any events that may take place throughout the term of their instruction. In the event of any potential litigation that TAPA may have to enter in to against a support publishing firm, TAPA can provide the Courts with the detailed diary of events a client has been involved in. All new clients are further provided with various crucial blocking codes and tools to use on their telephone to block and bar any unwanted callers from being able to re-contact them after the termination of any particular call as well as barring anonymous callers.
If you would like to instruct TAPA and register your details on to The TAPA Opt Out Ledger in order to stop receiving unsolicited advertising sales telephone calls, you can submit an application to TAPA using our online registration form.
If you would like to Opt Out immediately you can process your application online by selecting the ‘Opt Out Online’ link in the navigation links in the left hand column of this page. You will be required to enter your details in to the fields provided and will also be required to confirm that you do have legal authority to process the application on behalf of the business that you have entered on to the application. You will then proceed to a new page where you will be required to read and agree TAPA’s Contract of Services.
TAPA requests that applicants read TAPA’s Contract of Services carefully before proceeding with their application to make sure they understand the services that TAPA provides. Once you have read and agreed TAPA’s Contract of Services you will then proceed to the final stage of the online application process which is the payment details section. Once you have completed this section your application will be submitted. You will receive a telephone call from a TAPA representative shortly after submitting your application to notify you that your application has been processed. An Introduction Pack will then be issued to you by way of post.
There is an administration fee that TAPA requires in order to process a new application to help subsidise the expenses that TAPA incurs as a result. The fee is set at £68.00+VAT. TAPA further requires a monthly administration fee from its clients in order to provide them with monthly cover. This fee is set at £8.22+VAT per month. TAPA only provides one level of service to its clients regardless of the status of their business. TAPA requests that clients commit to the service for a minimum of 12 months to ensure the problems they were encountering do not return to their business. If clients do not wish to pay TAPA on a monthly basis by way of credit or debit card, clients can make payment in full for the minimum instruction term (12 months) by way of credit or debit card (£98.64+VAT).
IF CLIENTS ARE NOT COMPLETELY SATISFIED WITH THE SERVICE AFTER 1 MONTH OF INSTRUCTING TAPA, CLIENTS CAN SIMPLY CANCEL THEIR INSTRUCTION AT THIS STAGE AND TAPA WILL REFUND ANY PAYMENTS THEY HAVE MADE IN GOOD FAITH. PLEASE NOTE THAT TAPA CAN PROVIDE NEW APPLICANTS WITH THE CONTACT DETAILS OF EXISTING CLIENTS IF THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEEK CLARIFICATION OF THEIR OPINION OF THE SERVICE THEY HAVE RECEIVED FROM TAPA.
TAPA GUARANTEES COMPLETE SATISFACTION OF ITS SERVICE AND OFFERS 100% ASSURANCE THAT TAPA WILL BRING AN END TO UNSOLICITED ADVERTISING SALES TELEPHONE CALLS FROM SUPPORT PUBLISHING FIRMS BEING MADE TO THEIR BUSINESS AND THAT THEY WILL NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY FURTHER UNSOLICITED INVOICES ONCE THEY HAVE INSTRUCTED TAPA.
If you would like to discuss your circumstances further with TAPA, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest possible convenience on 0843 289 6037 and one of our representatives will discuss all of your requirements with you.