Office of Government Commerce Scam
We tend to think of scams attacking individuals but that’s not always the case. Businesses can be targeted too, and sometimes more successfully, since it’s something no one expects. Thankfully, though, there are far fewer business than individual consumer scams. But some of the ones that exist can be quite insidious.
Office of Government CommerceThere’s an Office of Government Commerce, through which companies do business with various government agencies. Think of it as a centralised clearing house, through which all contracts are awarded. It’s an institution many businesses are familiar with, whether they’re in the U.K. or in the U.S.
However, there’s been a scam targeting businesses that do work with the Office of Government Commerce, on both sides of the Atlantic, one that, if they respond, can see them giving up important banking details.
How It WorksBusiness who deal with the OGC (Office of Government Commerce), along with others, have received faxes purporting to be from the OGC stating that, in order to be considered for business, they need to send in an “authorisation to release financial information” form. That sounds plausible enough, but the company is asked to fax the information given to a number on the form.
Among the things they’re asked are bank account information, including account numbers and sort codes, as well as other items that would normally be kept confidential. However, it’s reasonable that an agency would ask for all of this, and there’s little to arouse suspicion.
But the fax number doesn’t belong to any government agency. Instead it’s run by criminals, and once they receive the information, they can strip the company’s accounts, as well as open new accounts in their name and run up bills.
How to Stop ItThe main thing any business should know is that the OGC would not do business this way. In fact, they’ve sent out warnings about this scam. They would never ask a business to send financial information in a fax.
You should just discard any fax like this that you receive. However, if you do that, you’ll find yourself wondering it was real and you might have scuppered your company’s chances of receiving lucrative government contracts.
The best thing to do in such a situation is to call the OCG to confirm that they sent the fax. Don’t use any contact number sent with the fax; it could easily be fake (and probably will be). You need to contact the agency’s service desk on 0845 000 4999; they’ll be able to advise you.
What To Do If You’ve Been a VictimIf you’ve fallen for the scam – and it’s easy to be a victim – the first thing to do is contact all the institutions with whom you do financial business – your banks, line of credits, and so on. Inform them what’s happened.
They’ll be able to help you, although it can be a nightmare of forms. However, it’s worthwhile in the long run.
Part of it depends on how quickly you discover the scam. If you catch it very early, you might be able to save your money. If it’s too late, report the fact not only to the police, but also the Office of Government Commerce. The chances of recovering your money, sadly, are very small.