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Virtual office fraud

Businesses can use the facilities of an office, telephone answering service, or postal address through third parties. These are known as accommodation addresses, business centres, postal addresses, serviced offices or collectively ‘Virtual Offices’.

These services provide businesses of all sizes a place to either meet clients, have a call answering service or to have letters sent which are then forwarded on to another address.

The majority of businesses using ‘Virtual offices’ are honest and legitimate. Although this type of facility can be misused by criminals hiding behind a legitimate front in order to trick unsuspecting victims into purchasing goods or services that will never arrive.

How can I help protect myself?

  • Use an internet search engine to check the company name.
  • Visit the Companies House website (www.companieshouse.gov.uk). Type into the search bar the company name. See how long they have been registered  and trading. You can also see if they have submitted any company accounts.
  • Use a credit reference agency check.
  • Call the phone numbers provided to see who answers.
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