Northumberland County Council is urging small businesses to hang up on cold-callers selling advertising in publications that claim to support the emergency services.
The council’s business compliance and public safety unit issued the warning after Trading Standards received complaints.
Some sales staff were even making false claims that businesses have already agreed to buy advertising space and demanding payment when no such agreements have taken place.
The latest of these cold-calling incidents involves callers declaring they are acting on behalf of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and selling advertising space.
Mark McCarty, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with NFRS, said: “Northumberland FRS do not sell advertising space or are involved in publications which do so.”
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, with responsibility for NFRS, said: “We’re becoming increasingly alarmed by the callous lengths that some cold-calling telesales operations will go to, to get well-meaning consumers and businesses to part with their hard-earned money.
“If a business has had a call from a company claiming that they have agreed to an advert in a publication, they should request evidence that they have entered into a contract with them, such as a tape recording of the initial sales call.”
Any business who has received one of these calls should report it by ringing the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or call Action Fraud on 0300 1235040.