Small businesses warned: beware of kids book scam calls

SMALL businesses have been warned to take care when dealing with unsolicited phone calls offering sponsorship or advertising opportunities after a suspected scam was reported operating in the region.

Representatives of The Health Inspectors Kid's Safety Guide, a business which has been deregistered in Australia since 2009, have been calling businesses claiming to have been referred by local hospital staff.

The caller offers sponsorship packages in a special publication they claim is distributed in local hospitals.

A spokeswoman from the Northern NSW Local Health District confirmed Grafton Base Hospital had received donated books for children which were placed in the children's ward for use and to take home when they leave the hospital.

"In the light of the concerns raised, the Northern NSW Local Health District will review its protocols for displaying donated books, which are for public use," she said.

The concern was triggered when business owners became wary after sharing their experience on an online forum.

Small business owner Talya Goding from Coffs Harbour said she received a phone call in Aug- ust and was told she had been recommended by staff at the Sydney Children's Hospital.

"My sister was being treated at Sydney Children's in Randwick until she passed from cancer, so I felt obliged to give back to the hospital," Mrs Goding said.

"I was told that the money was tax deductible and will go towards creating activity books for patients in the children's wards.

"So I thought I was doing a good thing. I said I would think about it and then the harassment began; they kept calling me."

Mrs Goding said they would call at least three times a week until she received a letter saying they would pursue legal action if payment was not received.

Manager of the publication Peter Mooney refused to comment when contacted by The Daily Examiner yesterday.

Meanwhile spokeswoman from the Department of Fair Trading said no business should be operating using a name that wasn't registered.

Topics:  advertising scam sponsorship

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