You have signed up to be included in a professional directory and a company asks you for money – welcome to the trap of business directories!
You are a business or a professional, you manage an association or an administration, or you are an individual, and you receive a form asking you to fill it out or provide your contact information for publication in a European business directory, or to confirm your registration with the Commerce Registry or your local patent registration office. Once signed, this simple form, with its official-looking heading and emblem, becomes a closed and definitive contract from which it is difficult to get oneself out of. It also carries an obligation to pay several hundreds of Euros over the course of a few years.
How to avoid the trap?
- Verify the business’ identity and logo, and compare them on the business’ official websites,
- Look for hidden prices in the Terms and Conditions (generally found in small lettering at the bottom or on the reverse side of the form),
- Inform your employees or volunteers of your organization in charge of mail of this type of fraud.
What to do once trapped by this scam?
- Demand the immediate cancellation of your contract for reason of willful misrepresentation or error.
- File a complaint with the competent public prosecutor.
- Seek advice from a lawyer in case of action done by the professional directory company before a European tribunal.
- If the directory is situated in France, address your complaint to your local representative of la Direction générale de la repression des fraude (the General Management of Fraud Control).
- If the directory is situated in Europe, report it with the Direccte of your region, which will raise complaints with the DGCCRF in Paris.
- Alert your local Chamber of Trades, of Commerce, or of Agriculture.