WA businesses could sign away thousands of dollars
Issue Date: - Monday, 22 February 2010
A misleading form asking companies to update their details for free on a business names database, with a $1,600 fee hidden in the fine print, is doing the rounds across Western Australia.
WA ScamNet, part of Consumer Protection, has received a large number of enquiries about the Industry and Commerce form and is warning businesses not to sign and to disregard it.
WA ScamNet has investigated this directory and registry scheme previously. The style of the form remains the same, however the cost jumps each year with a $300 increase since 2009.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll wants to alert businesses across the State before they sign away thousands of dollars.
“It’s easy when you’re in a busy office environment to quickly put pen to paper but it’s vital to check the fine print before using your signature”, she said.
“This form implies that you are agreeing to have your business name listed in an Australian section of an international CD-ROM and on the internet at no charge, when in fact you are signing up for an ongoing listing in the Industry and Commerce directory for a fee of $1,600.
“Another worrying aspect is that because of the title Register of Business Information on the form, some people wrongly think it’s from the Government.
“We know in the past that businesses, which have signed the form and then chosen not to pay, have received threatening legal notices or been contacted by debt collectors. We advise any business in this position to seek independent legal advice but ideally we want to spread the message about this scheme to prevent people signing up in the first place."
WA ScamNet advice for businesses:
- Read all documents carefully before signing.
- Try to restrict the number of employees who are authorised to sign invoices and important documents.
- Avoid giving out information about your business to a third party until you clarify the purpose of their enquiry.
- Deal with people you know and trust wherever possible.
For further details on this scam log on to: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/ConsumerProtection/ScamNet/Scams/Industry_and_Commerc.html
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Please note: a scanned version of the form is available on request.
(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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Alina Cavanagh 9282 0679 or 0423-846397 email@example.com