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?