Several retailers have alerted me to what Jon Mercer (Blackburn, Lancs) summed up as bunkum. Jon forwarded a copy of a letter asking him to spend £797 for his inclusion in the “Publication of companies and VAT Registration Numbers in the UK”. I wrote back to Jon observing what gobbledygook it sounded and how much it reminded me of the Spanish publishing scam European City Guide (ECG).

I was very pleased I used the word gobbledygook because, when I went online to research TVV Verlag, one of the best warnings came from Giles Chichester, Conservative MEP for South West England. He posted a caution a year ago about this directory scam from Hamburg from the digital publisher TVV Tele Verzeichnis Verlag GmbH. The company claims that the placing of these VAT entries in its directory is obligatory under ‘changes to the EU economic package’. This is hogwash.

Chichester says: “The German publishing company’s literature on its terms of business and the cost of entries is a masterpiece of fine print and gobbledygook. What can be assessed with some difficulty is that a single directory entry will cost £797 to be paid in advance before the directory is published.”

His advice: “Keep your money in your pocket.”

My advice: Don’t respond at all - do not confirm your existence. Even if they don’t get your money, they are making a list.

Jon adds that he got an EGC letter a good few years ago. “I sent them my junk mail in the postage paid envelope they generously supplied.” I like his style.