Speaking today in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Liam Aylward MEP called on the European Commission to take immediate action to assist SMEs who have fallen victim to registry scams and are being threatened by debt companies collecting payments on fraudulent invoices.

“Victims of these types of fraud are often told that there is EU legislation in place to counteract misleading and comparative advertising and it is the responsibility of the Member State to implement and police it. However this is proving to be of little practical use to SMEs who are faced with threatening letters from debt collectors, collecting for a fraudulent service.” 

During the exchange of views with the European Commission the Ireland East MEP communicated the seriousness of this problem for Irish businesses:

“As an MEP for Ireland East I am contacted on regular basis by local SMEs who are being harassed and bullied by debt collecting agencies tasked with collecting on these fraudulent bills. Week after week, there are reports in local media of businesses who have fallen victim to these registry scams – it is time for the authorities to take action.”

“These scams have hit businesses by masquerading as legitimate directories, then charging them for a service they did not ask for or willingly sign up to. It is usually SMEs, already struggling in a tough economic climate, that are the victims of these scams and find themselves isolated in dealing with threatening debt collectors.”

Responding to Liam Aylward’s comments the European Commission acknowledged that increased action was needed to address fraudulent activities and stated that there will be a Commission Communication on tackling fraud published in the coming months.

“The Commission confirmed that they are taking issues relating to fraud, scams, piracy and counterfeiting very seriously and will be producing a Communication addressing these problems in the coming months. This is a positive step from the Commission and it is essential that it is followed up with practical tools that will assist SMEs in dealing effectively with fraud.”

The Ireland East MEP also called on the Commission to launch a full inquiry into the proliferation of these scams and their impact on SMEs across Europe.