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Archives for February 2017 | Aqueous Digital

Archive for “February, 2017”

Commercial Register Scam Letter

10 reasons why Commercial Register is a scam

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to receive a letter in the post from something called Commercial Register you could be forgiven for thinking that it was something official. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s a scam. Pure and simple.

Everything about this form screams ‘official’ and the language used within it is specifically designed to make you take action. Immediately.

The inclusion of simple words like ‘deadline’, ‘promptly’ and ‘compliance’ all lead you, at first glance, to believe that you must do something with this form.

Take our advice and put it in the bin.

Commercial Register Scam Letter

Here are ten good reasons why this is nothing more than a modern-day confidence trick.

1. The Name Commercial Register

If you check the name ‘Commercial Register’ on Google you will find that currently, the first result is a Saudi Arabian Government website and the next result down talks about the Commercial Register of firms in Switzerland. In fact, the more you look down the list of page one results on Google the more you would think that this is something official. Everything on that page is about official Government departments.

The truth is that the name has been chosen to deliberately confuse you. It is NOT to do with any Government department at all.

2. There is a barcode on the letter and the form

Barcodes on letters aren’t common. They are however quite prevalent on letters you may receive from places like HMRC or other Government departments. The inclusion of these ‘barcodes’ are simply there to visually suggest that this is an official letter.Bogus Barcode

Of course, if it was a real barcode then there would by a series of numbers underneath it and their absence tells you everything you need to know. In reality it’s not a barcode at all, it’s just a series of lines. So, the proclamation at the top of page two which says ‘This form is designed to be read by machine’ might actually be true, but it certainly won’t be reading the barcode.

3. There is a big green box saying ‘Filing Deadline’

This is another example of some very clever design. The word deadline is a trigger word for many people. We are all used to deadlines and we all know the consequences of missing a ‘deadline’ when filing an official Government required form like the VAT or PAYE.filing deadline

This form has the deadline in it’s own box to stand out and just above it is the clever wording ‘Please amend and confirm your changes on page 2 and return the form to us as soon as possible’.

Clear instructions there to ‘amend and confirm’ and ‘return the form’ with the final command being ‘as soon as possible’. It’s easy to see how this might be taken as something you have to action immediately.

4. There is a reference number

In a further aping of official letters, it includes a completely bogus reference number. No one uses reference numbers on anything other than ’official’ letters so logically the inclusion of this number is supposed to give it some real importance.

5. The first paragraph commands you to take action

In a continuation of the ‘official’ language the first paragraph clearly says “Your company’s details need to be updated by the above referenced date. Please revise and approve your company’s details promptly”.

How would any of us react when faced with what looks like an official form and it is instructing us to take action immediately?

6. It is ‘signed’ by the Compliance Department

To reinforce the formal language used through the letter and to further frighten you into completing this, the form is ‘signed’ by the Compliance Department. And we all know what compliance departments do, don’t we?

7. The form enclosed already contains your company details

Who on earth sends you forms with all your company details already completed other than official bodies? The fact that it has your business details correctly listed means most people will immediately think that this is something official. And this is the irony.

They are sending you your publicly available business details and asking you to pay them to include them on a website you have never heard of.

8. They don’t use the £ sign

Very clever this bit. The price of the service is hidden in plain view. But what they do is write it as 863GBP which is of course not a way anyone would write a price. You or I would write or type £863 but by adding on GBP after the numbers it is an unfamiliar presentation of the price and deliberately designed to confuse.

Cost

9. There is no contact telephone number

Very helpfully they include a fax number at the bottom of the letter but of course, most of us don’t have a fax machine these days. In fact, other than the fax number the only other piece of contact detail worth anything is the email address which is not available on their website and may simply go to a dead email box. The chances of you being able to turn up at their offices are non-existent as they claim to be based in Madrid.

10. You are committed to paying £2,589 +VAT but they don’t tell you what for

Actually, what you are getting is detailed in small print on the reverse of the form in small letters. It is an image, probably of your logo of just 600 x 350 pixels. For three years as a minimum! Point 5 on the small print suggests that this can be extended beyond the three-year period (presumably if you don’t cancel) and what’s more you have just three weeks to pay them. Or else.

If you visit their website and look for ‘Trades’ you will see the sort of thing they provide and no doubt a list of the companies that have been caught out by this.

Commercial Register Scam Letter

This is the form they want you to complete (company name redacted for the purposes of this blog). DO NOT FILL THIS IN AND SEND IT BACK TO THEM!

Commercial Register Scam Letter

This is the small print that pretty much no one bothers to read…

If you do read the text in the letter, all seven lines of it, you will find the truth of what this is all about. The wording is so condensed that most people simply will not read it, especially as it has been written to deliberately confuse. If you do manage to wade through it though here are the takeaway nuggets;

  • You can see their website online at com-reg.com
  • You can update your basic details for free
  • The form they have sent you contains what they call ‘enhanced data’ (though as it is only your company’s basic data it’s hard to see what is enhanced about this) and if you return the form they will charge you to include this on their website.
  • The Commercial register is not affiliated with public authorities
  • If you return the form, you will be charged
  • You must be a business (as they would never get this scam past the legals if they were targeting individuals).

There’s nothing new with this particular scam. We’ve seen it many times before except previously it used to be done with small printed directories.

The move into the online world now opens up enormous possibilities and there is nothing legally stopping them doing this.

The form, if you read the detail and small print, makes it clear that you are signing up for advertising. The price is clearly stated, twice and the term of the contract is also stated. They could and I’m sure no doubt will, claim that this is purely voluntary and if you choose to return the form you are legally bound to pay for the advertising.

The fact that the advertising is on an obscure website and is ridiculously small is irrelevant. They will claim they are doing nothing wrong.

Summary of Commercial Register

Being a Digital firm we thought it would be interesting to take a slightly deeper look at their website to see if it threw up any clues. Here’s what we found.

  • Their domain is registered with GoDaddy
  • Their IP address is 2.139.237.19 and is in Barcelona, Spain.
  • There are only six domains on that server, com-reg.com, com-reg.org, direct-publisher.com, regitaliano.com, com-reduved.org and regitalia.com
  • They have very few backlinks and nothing from any reputable website.
  • Their domain name ownership is hidden under private registration
  • If you do visit their home page you will see some adverts for companies that have clearly been caught by this scam already.

If you receive a letter from Commercial Register, please do yourself a favour and throw it away immediately.

If you’ve receive one of these letters or have been caught out buy this then feel free to leave a message below.

socialmedia

Social Media from a Millennial’s point of View

This article was triggered by a conversation I was having with someone about the use of social media by different socio-economic groups. 

The subject of Millennials came up and our views differed on how we thought they used social media. The only way to resolve this I thought, was to ask a millennial to give me their thoughts on social media. What could be simpler, I thought, than asking someone who is in the target audience to ask their friends and capture their thoughts. 

I should have known better.

The following is reproduced exactly as delivered….

A Millenial’s view of Social Media

Millennials, when asked, would probably tell you that they see social media as a good thing.

It’s a free, convenient way to stay in touch with friends and family across great distances, and a godsend on a slow Friday afternoon when the clock seems frozen and your boss isn’t looking at your screen.

Millennials will freely put their whole lives on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without even thinking, after all, how else are you going to tell someone 70 miles away that you just ordered a really picturesque lasagne, or bae just said something romantic or even your exact knee jerk response to complex political issues which you will solve with no research or broader context? How will these hypothetical far flung spectators of their lives even survive without breaking news of the daily routine of other people? The danger here that so many fail to see is that when you stick something online it’s probably not going to stay private. There are a lot of ways this could go wrong.

The most popular way this could end up costing the average young person is career wise. According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey, 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.

Picture the scene; you’re a 20 something in an interview for an amazing job. Your clothes are ironed, your handshake was firm, you’ve managed to maintain eye contact and all of the questions breezed by.

This is a slam dunk.Social Media

At that moment the interviewer looks you square in the eye and asks for some context about one of your Facebook posts. At this point you may as well just stand up and leave rather than explain to a man you’ve spent the past 20 minutes convincing that you are a sober professional why you were doing shots off of a man dressed as Barney the dinosaur. The same survey says that more than a quarter of employers have found content online that has caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.

Evidently significant numbers of people, disproportionately Millennials, don’t seem to grasp the concept that if you air dirty laundry about your co-workers or horror of horrors your boss online, it’s probably going to leak back to them somehow.

Another looming downside of social media is that what you put on it will last a very long time.

Even if you have the wherewithal to delete your more embarrassing tweets posts and pictures after the fact there’s no guarantee that someone hasn’t copied them. Again this is an issue that disproportionately hits Millennials. Prior generations can rest easy knowing that all of the stupid things that they did in their youth are effectively unrecorded bar some Polaroid’s of bellbottoms and afros in the attic, Millennials have their emo phase broadcast to the world in glorious HD with multiple angles and accompanying angsty poetry.

With all this potential future blackmail material for people to laugh at you might wonder why anyone would keep using social media, sure there are some sweet benefits but the costs can be huge. However, cunning solutions have been found to counter these problems. To paraphrase a great man; life finds a way.

A popular response to the increase in employers checking social media has been to create a false page for them to examine, a profile which is updated semi regularly with inoffensive posts carefully cultivated to present the image of a professional young worker. All of the memes and party albums go on a separate page, completely unrelated and unrelatable to the first. Another, if more extreme response is to simply delete all of your online presence, websites exist to aid with this specific purpose such as deseat and based on the tasteful page layout they get a lot of business.

Ultimately social media is only a tool, the onus is on the user to control what they put on it.