Advertising Scams                             AdviceLink


How to protect your business against scams

  • Always carefully research an advertising opportunity yourself before signing up to anything. Make sure you read the small print in any business directory offer to be clear about what you are being offered and how much it will cost you.

  • Don’t be pressured into paying for services that have you have not agreed to receive or have not been provided.  

  • If you receive demands for payments for something you believe you have not ordered, send a written reply, stating clearly why you feel you do not owe any money. Always keep a copy for your records.

  • If you are threatened with a debt collection or a credit ‘black-listing’, remember that ultimately only a court can decide whether you are liable to pay and disputes with other businesses would not necessarily affect your credit rating.

  • Don't give out your credit card details over the phone without getting something in writing first.

  • If the company claims to be working with VisitScotland, they should be able to provide you with printed documentation to support that.

  •  VisitScotland does work with third party advertisers from time to time, but if you are suspicious, you can drop us an email at or contact your local Quality and Tourism Advisor for advice.

  • Sign up to Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) email alerts. You will receive alerts regarding fraud and security issues.

Publishing and advertising scams


VisitScotland has received a number of alerts in recent years from various sources about scams targeting tourism operators. Here's what you need to know...



Details What should I do if I'm a victim of a scam?
Fraudulent VisitScotland Expo attendee list (January 2018)

A fraudulent email is targeting businesses to purchase attendee data from VisitScotland Expo 2018.


VisitScotland does not pass any Expo data to external parties.

If you receive this email please do not respond and delete any subsequent messages.  


If you have any queries please contact

Occupancy Surveys Scottish Accommodation scam (July 2017)

Businesses have received an email titled Occupancy Surveys Scottish Accommodation. The email mentions an invoice and contains a link.


This email is a scam.

Please do not click on any links and delete the email immediately.


The Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development which carries out the official Scottish Occupancy Survey does not send out invoices.

Counterfeit Bank of England £20 notes (July 2017)

A business in West Lothian recently had a £500 transaction paid for using counterfeit Bank of England £20 notes.


There were only four different serial numbers used on all of the notes:

Businesses are reminded to be vigilant when checking similar banknotes and should contact Police Scotland via 101 should any such noted be discovered or detected.
Accommodation Needed/ Cheque or spilt credit card payment- email scam (June 2017)

Businesses have reported receiving emails from potential customers asking for prices and availability for selected dates.


Once the businesses provide the information the 'customer' replies saying they have to pay using bank cheque in excess allowing for their Basic Travellers Allowance. Some are sending their credit card details are asking for the bill to be spilt over two cards.

If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:
Anglo Holidays - fraudulent company (April 2017) We have received correspondence that this is fraudulent company, be cautious if approached by this company. If you are contacted please be cautious and visit Action Fraud website to report it:
Bogus Bookings from USA (March 2017)

Businesses have reported taking a long term bookings from a family in the USA visiting Scotland on holiday.


They send a cheque for payment of the accommodation and additional money to be used as their expenses. Business owner is then asked to cash the cheque and transfer the surplus funds to the visitor. The cheques then turns out to be a forgery.

If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:
Bogus bookings from Dubai (March 2017)

Businesses have reported receiving email bookings from companies in Dubai looking to visit Scotland for work or holiday purposes. Some emails request to book a venue for a conference.


When it comes to paying for the accommodation/venue they state they must pay via bank transfer.


When told bank transfer is not accepted the scammers often do not reply.

Do not supply your bank details to third parties.


If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:

Fake Bailiff collecting debts (September 2016)

Various businesses are being targeted by fake bailiffs requesting payments for non-existent debt.


The caller will request payment by bank transfer and if this is refused, may threaten to visit the premises to recover the debt that is owed.


Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call and do not make any payments.


If you have been the victim of this scam please report it to Action Fraud:

Expo-Guide, Fairguide or International Trade Fair scams (August 2016)

Companies are targeting exhibitors to purchase a three-year commitment of advertising/a free directory listing.


These companies contact exhibitors by mail using the name of VisitScotland/Scottish Tourist Board. The mailing asks exhibitors to send the form back to confirm that their details are correct.


By signing the form the exhibitor is committing to a full sized listing at a cost shown in small print.


Please note that entries and advertising in VisitScotland expo Official Show Guide can only be placed by booking through VisitScotland expo website directly.

If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:


If you have any queries, please email

VisitScotland overpayment

A number of businesses across Scotland have reported telephone calls from individuals claiming to work for VisitScotland, offering a refund on overpayments. In order for these refunds to be processed, the businesses card details are requested.


These calls are fraudulent. VisitScotland will never contact business customers to request card or bank details over the phone. Any payments made to VisitScotland will always be processed via a secure portal.

If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:
VisitScotland App Scam (ongoing)

We have produced our own app internally and are not working with any external suppliers other than Transport Scotland and Traveline.


If any business customer has been approached by a 3rd party claiming to be working with us, they should ask for proof, letterhead, official email etc.

If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:


If you have any queries, please email

The ‘Pitch’ - invoices and demands for payment


Official-looking invoices are sent offering to advertise your business in a ‘free’ listing or asking if you wish to continue being included in a business directory.


You may be asked to check the details about your business, or be told that an employee or colleague of yours has requested the form. You may be told to return the form even if you don’t want to place an order.


Be careful with invoices and documents like this and tell your staff to check out all requests of confirmation of business information and requests for payment.


If you feel you have been the victim of a similar scam, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:



You are more likely be become a repeat victim of this type of scam if you do pay money and by doing so you may open your business up to a series of scam requests in the future.



What to do if you are the victim of a scam

Unfortunately, many direct mail scammers are based overseas, so they are unregulated and largely beyond the reach of UK authorities.  For this reason it is important that you know what to look out for to protect your business from falling victim.


If you feel you have been a victim of fraud, go to the Action Fraud website to report it:


Action Fraud is the central point of contact for victims of fraud.


This webpage will be updated as new scams emerge. Please email to tell us about your experience if you have been scammed. We will add any new scams to this page to warn other providers.

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