The Belgian European Consumers Centre (CEC) and the Department of Economic Affairs have launched a prevention campaign dubbed “Escrocs au bout du fil” (fraudsters at the end of the line) to help consumers resist fraudulent telemarketers. A list of the companies involved has also been drawn up and published on the Internet.
Last year alone, more than 5,410 complaints were lodged at the Economic Affairs Department against such scams.
Describing the modus operandi of the swindlers, the CEC explained that the victim receives a telephone call from someone proposing a juicy offer for bonus coupons for online purchases, vouchers, free samples for beauty products etc. “The telemarketer stresses to his victim that everything is free of cost but gives few details about his identity and the service offered. The victim agrees to receive additional information by e-mail but, instead, receives a high bill,” the CEC explained. And if the bill is not paid, the bill-collection agency takes over. These companies are usually based in the Netherlands and are thus not authorized to operate in Belgium.
About 20 companies and around a dozen collection agencies that consumers should not trust are currently mentioned on a grey list. These are all companies against which the Economic Affairs Department has received complaints in the past.
The www.escrocsauboutdufil.be website also informs consumers on the steps they can take against bogus telemarketers and their collection agencies or what they can do to recover moneys unduly debited from their bank accounts.