May 18, 2010 – St. Paul, MN – The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning businesses that Yellow Pages billing scams are making the rounds, and urges all companies to keep a close eye on the invoices they receive – they may have been sent by scammers! What these scammers are counting on is people being too busy to notice they’re being tricked into paying a debt they don’t owe.
Scammers have used the Yellow Pages name and logo for years by sidestepping trademark rules. In the past, they would clip out a given company’s existing directory listing and send them an official looking invoice. Now, according to Scambusters.org, this scam is moving online and companies are receiving bills from Online Yellow Pages (or derivatives of Yellow Pages Online), a non-copyrighted tag which is also used by legitimate directory companies in their marketing.
In some cases, the fake billings are for $500 or more. If a business refuses to pay the bill, the scammers sometimes threaten them with collection or legal action. At this point, many business owners pay up just to stop the hounding. However, no one should be bullied into paying a bill they don’t owe. Businesses who receive a bill they feel is suspicious or don’t owe should file a complaint with the BBB (www.bbb.org) or the FTC (www.ftc.gov). If you think you’ve been victimized in a fraud scheme that involves the U.S. Mail, contact the Postal Inspector’s Mail Fraud Complaint Center at 1-800-372-8347. Businesses and consumers can also report fraudulent activity to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety at www.mnscams.org
Businesses can protect themselves by alerting their accounting department or bill-payers to be on the look-out for disguised solicitations and carefully check suspicious bills from entities with which they don't normally do business. To check the reliability of the party that is sending the solicitation, businesses may contact the BBB where the company is located (www.bbb.org).