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Taking action against marketing scams

17 December 2012

The European Commission outlined a series of actions to tackle marketing scams, such as those of misleading directory companies. The aim is to better protect businesses, professionals and NGOs across Europe from dishonest traders who do not play by the rules and use misleading marketing practices, such as sending out forms asking businesses to update details in their directories, seemingly for free, and then charging them annual fees. Small companies are particularly vulnerable to fraudsters, who are frequently operating from another jurisdiction within the EU. This makes enforcement difficult. The Commission therefore announced that it plans to beef up the existing legislation (the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive 2006/114/EC) to explicitly ban practices such as concealing the commercial intent of a communication, while at the same time stepping up enforcement of the rules in cross-border cases.

"Only solid Europe-wide rules will enable us to crack down on scams targeting businesses and make sure the culprits cannot hide behind national borders. This is why we are presenting this comprehensive plan today," said Vice-President Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. "The practices of misleading directory companies, fake invoices and similar scams must be stopped. Small enterprises are the backbone of the European economy and can ill afford losing money to swindlers. We are determined to improve the security of doing business in Europe."

Every day EU-based businesses, professionals and civil society organisations fall victim to marketing scams. They range from providing false or misleading information about the service to sending offers disguised as invoices or misleading forms asking for updates in business directories. The figures reveal a new trend which can affect business worldwide. With the spread of mass-marketing techniques, the most notorious operators of misleading directories can reportedly send up to 6 million forms a year. The financial damage to individual companies that results from misleading directory scams is estimated to be between €1,000 and €5,000 per year for each company. The 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe represent 99% of EU businesses and have created 85% of net new jobs in the EU between 2002 and 2010. They are key drivers for economic growth and their rights should be protected.

To view the full article and find useful links and contacts please follow the link below to the European Commission website:

Taking action against marketing scams

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