The business directory scam strikes again

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You work at a small business, nonprofit, church, or local government agency, and you get a call: Someone wants you to confirm your contact information for a directory. Sure, no problem.   

But there is a problem: Soon, you’re opening an invoice for hundreds of dollars for a listing in an online business directory — something you never asked for or wanted.

The FTC is alleging that three telemarketing agencies in Canada, which did business under names like Your Yellow Pages and OnlineYellowPagesToday, used that very m.o. to target small offices in the U.S.

According to the FTC, the scam didn’t always stop with the invoice. When people disputed the invoices, the companies pointed to recordings of their initial calls — sometimes using edited or altered versions — to “prove” that employees had okayed the charges. Businesses or organizations that still refused to pay got harassing calls telling them they’d owe interest and legal fees and would be reported to credit reporting agencies. Sometimes, the FTC alleged, the scammers went even further, pretending to be debt collection companies, getting people to pay for a promise that they wouldn’t call again. In the face of threats, many people just paid.

So what can you do to protect your business or organization from this kind of fraud?

  1. Train your staff. Educate your employees about how these scams work. In fact, send them a link to this blog post and article.
  1. Inspect your invoices. Depending on the size and nature of your business, consider implementing a purchase order system to make sure you’re paying only legitimate expenses. At a minimum, designate a small group of employees with authority to approve purchases and pay the bills.
  1. Verify to clarify. Check a company out for free at bbb.org, and read the BBB’s report on them. Also try doing an online search using the company name and words like “complaint” or “scam.”
  1. File a complaint. If you’re getting bogus bills, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and with the BBB. Complaints help shape the FTC’s law enforcement agenda, so it’s important to sound off when you spot a scam. Concerned about business directory fraudsters’ threats to tarnish your credit if you don’t pay? Many will simply drop the matter — and may even provide a refund — if they know you’ve complained. If the scheme involved the U.S. mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You also can alert your state Attorney General.
Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money

Comments

Certainly the open data policy at data.gov has initiated a lot of phony websites and businesses. Is this a concern to anyone else?

Yes - We got the a mail from company called National yellow pages / Yellow pages united & asked to confirm name of business. Now they are sending invoice for $300 & threatening to go collections. Many small business owners are paying for it. We should stop this :(

I get hundreds of spam emails, and its mostly sex oriented. i am tired of deleting them ever couple of hours...what can i do to eliminate this problem?

Change your screen name you are asking for trouble.

Great to know because I was scam two weeks ago for cash and I do not have the money to pay the bank back I had to file for early retirement benefit.It will take me 6 months to pay

This happened to me. Horrible

This is horrible. It happened to me. And they keep calling.

@FoxyLady... I don't know what e-mail service you use. Public, or free, e-mail services have horrible spam filters. Try using one provided by your internet provider, or buying a paid e-mail name.

I have argued unsuccessfully for the last 2 years that I don't owe the debt to yellow pages america because its a scam. Its now turned over to a "collection agency" out of Ireland who I have no inclination to pay as well. I had filled out a fax with the info.. My mistake, but I didn't pay them thank goodness.

stop payments don't pay scammers. arrest them

Many telemarketing scammers are using Google Voice or Pinger as well so it's often very difficult (if not impossible) to trace them or find out who they really are.

Is it a scam?

I signed up for training on how to start your own web business, and I think I am getting ripped off and don't know where to go for help, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop!

I have had the same thing with commercial directory. The fax came through for free listings which had a charge in the small print now am getting bills with charges and threatening collection agencies

Don't use usdirectory!! big scam!!

just got suspicious after I gave them my credit card info

Well, giving away your credit card information over the phone is definitely a big NO NO!

i receive the call again , and my mistake i give them my email to send me the facture, and also i request the voice contract that they talk about. is fraud i know

Whenever you talk to a telemarketer, do not use the word "Yes" while talking to them. This will make it much harder for them to alter audio to make it sound like you agree. There is no "Yes" for them to edit in after a "You agree to pay this?". I've had some get frustrated and demand I answer in "Yes" or "No" responses.

Of all the websites that claim "free" listings for businesses, I have found none that are free. Every singe one is a hustle.

Speak Klingon, drives them nuts.

JUST 1 CLICK DIRECTORY THEY ARE LOCATED IN CANADA...SCAMMERS TO LITTLE BUSINESS WITH SOME BOGUS WEB DIRECTORY.

Just simply say your not interested and hang up! If you think that is too rude, then stay on the line with them and ask questions of who they are, where did they get your number from, what part of 'not interested' didn't they get, etc. until they rudely hang up on you.

Since 2012, I have been receiving faxed bills for $1188 from a company called Open Business Directory (which also uses the alias Yellow Pages USA, and the alias Open Business Solutions). They claim that I made a contract to list my business on their service. I have never been listed anywhere with Open Business Directory, and I have never made a contract with them. They now claim that I owe them over $5000. In my case, information that Open Business Directory claims to have listed online does not even contain the correct address of my business. This proves that this information was not provided by me or anyone at my company. (We know the correct address of our business). Yet I have been receiving faxed invoices for $1238 (they added a $50 late fee) and now 5 years later, I am receiving a bill for more than $5000 and a threat of legal action. I have called them and informed them that I have not made any contract for any services from them. They refuse to provide any documentation to support their false claim that I agreed to this service, and I have refused to pay them anything. I have reported them to the Better Business Bureau and they provided some long rambling response that said nothing, and the phony invoices continued. I also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and filed a report with them. The FTC officer said that they are aware of this company and its fraudulent practices. I have never seen any online listing from this company. Also, the fraudulent invoices that this company faxes to me include a telephone number and a fax number. Open Business Directory which claims to be an online listing service does not even have a website. The letter that the company faxes demanding payment lists a telephone number and a fax number, but it does not even list a website for the company. How can a company that does not even have its own website sell online business listings? Open Business Directory is a completely fraudulent company. I have now been receiving threatening faxes from Open Business Directory for 5 years. They are still threatening legal action. However,I will never pay them one penny because I have not m 10 made any contract with them. This company is a complete scam.

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