This is an alert for German start-ups! This outfit is running a scam. It is called the “Adressbuch”-scam. Unfortunately a very common mal-practise, whereby “companies” are aiming to trick newly founded enterprises into registering their company details with dodgy “registries”, or address books.

I have received countless letters in the past months from different sources inviting me to pay amounts ranging from € 150 – € 600 for the service of being registered in some phony company registry. I have been smart enough to throw them all in the bin. This last one caught me off guard (see details below). It arrived the very next day after a document had been send to the tax authorities, and when this letter came, I thought it came from them. I ticked the boxes confirming the nature of my business and signed. BIG mistake! Now they  have sent a bill for € 566 for the service of being listed in their  - well, I don’t know really where. Do I want to be registered on their useless site? No! I had been tricked into signing an offer I wasn’t even going to consider in the first place.

I have spoken to the chamber of commerce in Berlin, and they have confirmed that this is a problem that happens to many start-ups. Luckily I haven’t paid any monies. The official authorities are trying to put a stop to these crooked deals, but it has been difficult to close these “companies” down.

Here is how to react if you have been unfortunate enough to have received a letter from them, thinking it is the official chamber of commerce and have stupidly signed it like I have. This is what you do: Go to the site of the chamber of commerce for Stuttgart (IHK Stuttgart). On the right hand side of their landing page is a box where you can search for documents. In the box marked Dok-Nr. you put in the digits 8365. This will take you to a page where these scams are explained and what you have to do. You will find a template letter that shows you how to contest their bogus offer.

This it what I will do right now. I can’t believe that happened to me! A very nice gentleman at IHK Berlin said, that I shouldn’t feel so bad as they are pros and that there are ways out of it!

Good luck and do let me know if anything of the sort has happened to you. I will keep you posted on what happens on the scam front. Pass this article on if you want to safe your friends a problem …

REMEMBER – You do not want to be a member or be registered at this companies site: