You can reduce your chances of being swindled by knowing who it is you are dealing with. This will help to protect you against getting involved with scam operators who set up companies, rack up debts then close up shop, leaving their debts behind. There are certain things to bear in mind when trying to protect yourself against scams.
The following organisations can also be of assistance:
The ASA may be contacted with complaints about any misleading promotions, as they may be in breach of the British Advertising Codes. The Advertising Codes are written and maintained by two industry bodies, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP). CAP is responsible for the non-broadcast Code and BCAP is responsible for the TV and radio Codes.
If a complaint is upheld, the advertiser is asked to amend their mailings. Should the advertiser fail to comply, CAP may also circulate an Ad Alert to members in the direct marketing industry, asking them to check advertising by the company with the CAP Copy Advice team before carrying their mailings.
If you wish to pursue a complaint about a misleading promotion you have received, you can write to the ASA describing clearly why you think the mailing is misleading, and enclosing the original mailing envelope (if possible).
The Advertising Standards Authority
2 Torrington Place
Companies House has three main functions:
Companies House's main office is in Cardiff (see below) but they have offices in each of the countries within the UK.
Main address (Wales):
Cardiff CF14 3UZ
Their address in England is:
PO BOX 29019
21 Bloomsbury Street
Their address in Scotland is:
Edinburgh Quay 2
Their address in Northern Ireland is:
8 Laganbank Road
The DCMS is responsible for legislative regulation of competitions and lotteries. They advise the public that where there is doubt about the authenticity of any particular scheme, they should not participate in it. If you want to take it further, pass it on to the police for possible investigation. The police are the enforcement authority on these matters; they investigate allegations of fraud or dishonesty.
Schemes which ask you to send money to people on a list then add your own name to the list and send out more copies of the letter are probably illegal under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976. The DCMS has responsibility for the legislation.
However, the law in this area is complex and only a court can say authoritatively whether a particular scheme is unlawful.
2 - 4 Cockspur Street
The Direct Marketing Association (UK) Ltd is Europe's largest trade association in the marketing and communications sector. It promotes best practice through DMA codes of conduct and the DMA awards, and provides up-to-the-minute information, research and legal advice.
The DMA manages programmes to protect consumers against bad practice and increase consumer trust, including the DMA Preference Services schemes and Trust UK for e-commerce.
DMA (UK) Ltd
70 Margaret Street
The DSA is a trade association for the direct selling sector and seeks to promote:
The Direct Selling Association
29 Floral Street
Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the FSA are the single statutory regulator responsible for regulating deposit-taking, insurance and investment business. The FSA are also responsible for tackling market abuse, promoting public understanding of the financial system and reducing financial crime.
The Financial Services Authority
25 The North Colonnade
Consumer Helpline: 0845 606 1234 (local call rates)
PhonepayPlus regulates all premium rate telecommunications products or services - such as competitions, TV voting, helplines, adult entertainment, mobile ringtone and logo downloads, news alerts or interactive games - that are charged to users' phone bills or pre-pay accounts.
PhonepayPlus's purpose is to establish, maintain and ensure compliance with appropriate standards of protection for users of premium rate information and entertainment services, and in doing so, contribute towards the development of the industry. It can investigate complaints and has the power to fine companies and bar access to services. In addition, it offers free advice and guidance to both existing and new service providers.
Consumers can submit a complaint online by completing the online complaints form or alternatively they can telephone, fax, or write to PhonepayPlus as follows:
Telephone: (free call) 0800 500 212 (open 0800-1800 Monday to Friday)
Textphone: 020 7407 3430
The Information Commissioner's Office enforces the regulations relating to telephone, fax, e-mail and SMS marketing.
Information Commissioner's Office
Tel: 01625 545745
Fax: 01625 524 510
Information Commissioner's Office – Scotland
93 - 95 Hanover Street
Telephone: 0131 301 5071
Fax: 0131 301 5069
Information Commissioner's Office – Wales
Mount Stuart Square
Cardiff CF10 5FL
Tel: 029 2044 8044
Fax: 029 2044 8045
Information Commissioner's Office – Northern Ireland
51 Adelaide Street
Belfast, BT2 8FE
Tel: 028 9026 9380
Fax: 028 9026 9388
The OFT's International Liaison Section has an interest in "scam" mailings which originate outside of the United Kingdom. You can contact them to complain about such mailings or to forward unwanted unsolicited mailings that you consider to be misleading or deceptive.
The Office of Fair Trading can pursue dishonest traders operating from other member states of the European Community. The OFT has the power to seek an injunction to enforce existing consumer protection legislation emanating from European Directives. This includes law on misleading advertising. For all enquiries, guidance on the work of OFT and to report anti-competitive or other behaviour by a trader or traders, contact the Enquiries and Reporting Centre at:
Enquiries and Reporting Centre
Office of Fair Trading
2-6 Salisbury Square
Tel: 08457 22 44 99
Where the trader is based outside Europe, the OFT work with their counterparts overseas, under the auspices of the International Marketing Supervision Network. Their principal objective is to encourage practical action, through the co-operation of national regulatory bodies, to prevent and remedy cross-border marketing malpractices.
The Office of Fair Trading
International Liaison Section
2-6 Salisbury Square
London, EC4Y 8JX
Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE)
The Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) is the official trade association representing companies and individuals with legitimate interests in the industry in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It aims to promote, develop and represent the timeshare industry so that legitimate commercial and consumer interests can be satisfied.
Organisation for Timeshare in Europe
Consumer Services Department
15-19 Great Titchfield Street
Tel: 020 7291 0901
The role of the Intellectual Property Office is to stimulate innovation and enhance the international competitiveness of British industry and commerce. It provides a system, both national and international, for granting intellectual property rights.
The Intellectual Property Office
Intellectual Property House
Central Enquiry Unit phone lines are open 09:00 to 17:00
08459 500 505 (charged at local rate)
Theworks in partnership with . They refer case details of scams and dishonest traders to the relevant Trading Standards Service, so that they can take appropriate action. They also maintain a central database of all cases which allows Trading Standards Services to identify scams earlier, and ensure action is taken promptly.