Staffordshire businesses are being warned about bogus callers trying to sell advertising on behalf of their local fire service.
The warning comes after two local companies were contacted by individuals purporting to represent Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
"As a fire service we don’t sell advertising space and we don’t employ other agencies to do this on our behalf."
Jude Russell, Marketing and Events Team Manager
Earlier this week the owner of a Rugeley firm received a call from 'Alan Darby' who asked her to sponsor him because she had in the past.
But on telling the caller she had never previously sponsored anyone connected to the Service he promptly terminated the call.
When trying to trace the origin of the call the woman discovered the number was withheld.
The following day a Cannock company received a call from 'Ian Bennett of Porter Applications' who tried to persuade the business to buy advertising space on a calendar he said was affiliated to the Fire Service.
The employee who took the call contacted Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to confirm this was a legitimate campaign. It is not.
Late last year a number of businesses contacted Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to check if similar calls they had been receiving were genuine. Staffordshire Police have also reported people contacting them with similar experiences.
Marketing and Events Team Manager, Jude Russell said: "As a fire service we don’t sell advertising space and we don't employ other agencies to do this on our behalf.
"We would advice local businesses to not commit to advertising following just one phone call, instead take the details of the company and if they are claiming to be from the fire service please contact us so we can check it out and if necessary we can pass the details onto Trading Standards.
"This problem isn't just a localised one; discussions with our colleagues in fire services up and down the country tell us that this problem is widespread.
"We do have to point out that there are some reputable fire related trade press magazines which do ring businesses regarding advertising but they should give you the name of the publication and although the magazines are distributed to fire services across the UK they will not claim to be supporting their local fire service."
If you do experience a call of this nature and have the contact details of the person who rang you please contact Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service on 08451 221155 and ask to speak to someone in the Marketing Team.
Ian Fegan, Staffordshire Police Corporate Communications Manager stated: "Our general advice would be the same as if someone knocked at your door trying to sell you something - tell them you don't buy from cold-callers or, alternatively, take the time to check out who they say they are. If they are genuine, they shouldn't have any problem with this and should willingly provide their contact details and those of whoever they claim to be working with in the force.
"If you have any concerns about someone claiming to represent the force please ring Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455."
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service offer a businesses support service and the following can be accessed, free initial consultations, free fire safety advice and free business support packs. The Service also provides high quality fire safety training.
For more information contact the Business Support Team direct on 01785 898917. Information is also available on the Service’s website www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk