Fraud, disputes, or complaint: Who to contact?

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Business.gov.nl
Business.gov.nl
9 min read

If you run a business, you will inevitably run into problems from time to time. For example, conflicts with a client or a supplier, a dispute with the government, or falling victim to fraud. Where can you go to report grievances or to get help? Here is an overview.

Fraud

From cybercrime to counterfeit money, fraud comes in many shapes and forms. You can report all forms of fraud, deception, and Internet Scams (in Dutch) to the police. Call 0900-8844 (only from the Netherlands) or go to the police in your municipality. If you are abroad and you have been scammed by a Dutch company, unfortunately you cannot file a report with the Dutch police. You are requested to report the crime at your local police station. They can then contact the Dutch police. Contact | politie.nl

For some types of fraud, reporting centres and information lines have been set up. All forms of fraud or even suspicion of fraud can also be called in to the Fraud Help Desk. The Fraud Help Desk has no investigative power. They give advice and will refer you to the appropriate authority. They record all reports of fraud they receive in order to raise awareness and publish updated information and alerts on their website and social media. If you have information about a crime, but you do not want to talk to the police, you can report the crime anonymously.

  • Misuse of email data
  • Misuse of your or your company’s name
  • Tampering with files and records
  • Business operations

    • Phantom invoice: When you receive a fake invoice for services or products you never ordered or received.
    • Billing fraud: This happens when your employee submits invoices that they created themselves on behalf of a fake company.
    • CEO fraud: If the financial department receives an email from criminals pretending to be the CEO with the urgent an confidential order to make a payment to a certain bank account.
    • Acquisition Fraud:An advertisement agency contacts your organisation with the opportunity for you to place an advertisement. They pressure you into signing a document, which turns out to be a contract. They will not publish any advertisement.
    • Bankruptcy Fraud: This type of fraud comes in several forms. For instance, a company might buy large quantities from you, but when the time comes to pay the invoice it turns out the company no longer exists. Or you might order products from a company and pay the invoice, but nothing gets delivered. Finally, when your business is struggling, a company might come to your rescue financially. However, they may place orders in your name and leave you with the bill. These are examples of Bankruptcy fraud (in Dutch).
    • Extortion:In cases of extortion, money is usually demanded from you or your company under threat of violence or of making incriminating or damaging information public. You can report this (anonymously, if you want) to the Confidential hotline for reporting extortion (Vertrouwenslijn, in Dutch). You can also call them for advice if you suspect someone you know is being extorted.
    • Slamming:Transferring your telephone service contract from your current provider to another without your permission or knowledge. You can report this to the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM, in Dutch).
  • Identity fraud: If you are the victim of identity fraud, someone illegally uses your personal data to pretend they are you. For example, they could order something through the internet in your name and leave you with the bill. You can report such fraud to the Central Identity Theft and Error Reporting Centre (CMI, in Dutch).
  • Domain name fraud: Your domain name can be used to pressure you into paying for other similar domains. Hackers will send you and email to try and trick you into thinking a competitor will buy the similar domain, if you do not pay. Read more (in Dutch). Also look out for false website addresses (in Dutch) that look similar to yours. Cybercriminals can use it to trick your customers into leaving behind sensitive data or making payments.
  • Ransomware:If you have fallen victim to ransomware, you can use No More Ransom to delete the software. The general advice is not to pay the ransom. By sending your money to cybercriminals you will only confirm that ransomware works, and there is no guarantee you will get the decryption key you need in return.
  • Tax fraud: If you know of a company that is, for example, concealing income or profits from their business or evading taxes, you can report (in Dutch) this tax fraud to the Netherlands Tax Administration.
  • Suspect email: Have you received a suspect email that appears to originate from the Tax Administration? If possible, forward the suspected malicious email to: valse-email@belastingdienst.nl (use this email address for this type of report only).
  • VAT fraud: Are the invoices from your customer or supplier not correct? Or do you suspect something is not right about a transaction, possibly signalling VAT fraud? Report your suspicions to fiod.fraudemelden@belastingdienst.nl.

Conflicts and disputes

In addition to deception and fraud, you can run into all kinds of problems as an entrepreneur. Clients that do not pay, suppliers that do not deliver, or competitors might not be working by the book and negatively influence the business climate. Below we list some examples of what to look out for:

  • Cartel: If you suspect that companies are in a cartel agreement, you can tip off the ACM (in Dutch). Should you want to leave a cartel, you can report this to the ACM (leniency request) as well. Your fine will be cancelled or reduced.
  • Unsafe product: Do you manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products (non-food)? And do you discover your product is unsafe? You must report this to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA).
  • Trade secret: If your business (sector) has trade secrets, the Trade Secret Protection Act (Wet bescherming bedrijfsgeheimen, Wbb) will help you. If there is a breach of your trade secrets, you can go to court.
  • Unfair trading practices: When you know a company engages in unfair trading practices, you can report them to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM). If it concerns financial products or services, report it to the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets.
  • Monopoly: Abuse of a dominant position happens when a company causes harm to the competitive position (in Dutch) of their competitors. The Dutch Competition Act (Mededingingswet) prohibits companies from abusing a dominant position.
  • Tender: Did you take part in a tender and do you think the tendering rules have not been applied correctly? Or do you feel you have been treated unfairly? You can submit a complaint to the tendering service. If you are dissatisfied with the handling of that complaint, you can submit a complaint to the Committee of Tendering Experts (Commissie van Aanbestedingsexperts, CvA, in Dutch).
  • Breach of copyright: Is your original work used without your permission, for example distributed, printed, or published on the internet? Then this is a copyright violation. You can stop further distribution through legal proceedings (in Dutch). You can also demand compensation for the damages. Most authors, composers, musicians, and film makers take care of their copyrights through a collective management organisation (CMO).
  • Rules of conduct: You might be working with someone who practises an independent profession (in Dutch), such as a lawyer or accountant. If they do not observe the rules of conduct of their profession, you can file a complaint about them with the disciplinary tribunal of their occupational group.
  • Debt: If you have an employee with money problems, creditors might levy attachment on their salary. As an employer, you must facilitate this and deduct an amount from your employee’s salary.
  • Equal treatment and pay: If you know of any situations where people are not treated equally, you can request an opinion (in Dutch) of, or file a complaint with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (College voor de Rechten van de Mens).
  • Dismissal: If you want to dismiss an employee, you need to have a good reason. You must also follow a dismissal procedure.
  • Tenant: If you rent out properties and have a dispute with tenants or their representatives that cannot be solved amicably, you may be able to take it to the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie, in Dutch). Read more about the rent and tenancy agreement.
  • If you have a complaint about Business.gov.nl, you can submit your complaint using mail or email. Read about the procedure.
  • If you disagree with a decision of a Dutch governmental authority, you can usually lodge an objection. If you disagree with the decision in response to your objection, you can appeal to the courts in most cases. And, in most cases, you can also lodge an appeal against the court’s decision with the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State.
  • If things go wrong between you and the government, the National Ombudsman (in Dutch) will help you. They stand up for the interests of citizens and help governments improve their services.
  • If you are after specific government information that is not published anywhere, you can put in a so-called WOO request (Wet open overheid) under the Dutch Public Access to Government Information Act. Read more about freedom of information.
  • Do you have to deal with obstacles as a result of incorrectly applied European rules by governmental entities? You can make a complaint to the SOLVIT Centre.
  • Find legal assistance: When you have a legal problem, dispute, or conflict with an entrepreneur or consumer and you are unable to reach a mutually agreed settlement? You can call in specialist help. If you have a low income, you might be eligible for subsidised legal assistance (in Dutch). This is usually petitioned for by your mediator or lawyer.
  • Conflict resolution: You are registered as an entrepreneur in the Netherlands and you are in a dispute, but do not want to go to court. There are alternative ways to settle disputes. Arbitration is a way to resolve a conflict without going to court. Experts then decide on the conflict. When you choose mediation, an independent mediator helps to resolve the dispute.
  • Go to court: You have the option of taking a dispute to court. The court then issues a binding ruling which you and the other party must comply with. Read more about legal proceedings.
  • International court: If you have an (international) commercial or civil dispute, you can have court cases heard in English at the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). The NCC is a special chamber of the Amsterdam District Court. They specialise in international business disputes.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK