Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yellow Page Scams

Recently, someone told me about a scam involving Yellow Pages invoices sent to businesses. I decided to do a little research on it and found a great press release on this from the Postal Inspectors.

In their own words:

The fraudulent Yellow Pages promotion usually begins with a promoter mailing your company a copy--or a cut-out original--of the advertisement you placed in your local telephone company's current yellow pages. The ad is accompanied by an invoice whose design implies it is being sent by the telephone company. The promoter wants to deceive you into thinking that if you pay the invoice you are authorizing your local phone company to print the same ad in the next edition of its yellow pages. What you receive is either nothing, your ad in only a few copies of a cheaply prepared directory, or your ad in a directory that is distributed not nearly as widely as the phone company's yellow pages.

Here is what they recommend to avoid this scam:

  • Call the phone company and ask if it sent the solicitation.
  • If the solicitation was not sent by the telephone company and is deceptive in any way, do not deal with the promoter.
  • If you have never heard of the promoter or publication but are interested in placing an ad, talk to the promoter and ask questions of concern; if any of the answers are unsatisfactory, do not deal with the promoter.
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for any information they may have on the promoter.
  • Do not place an ad in the directory if you are not certain with whom you are dealing and do not have commitments you feel you can rely on as to date of publication and area of distribution.
  • Be suspicious if the invoice includes a threat that your yellow pages listing will be deleted if you do not pay immediately.

*If you are a large company - where local managers might approve something like this - ensure you educate the people working for you know about this type of scam. I would make sure your accounts payable people are AWARE, also!

Full release, here.

Report activity like this to the Postal Inspectors, here.

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