Once again, small business owners are being targeted through an allegedly deceptive ad sales campaign.
The owner of an Accredited Business in Maryland contacted BBB to complain about the solicitation this week. The owner reported that he received a phone call from a salesperson stating that he was with Regional Marketing Agency on behalf of the Yellow Pages. The salesperson claimed that the local business owner’s listing was about to expire. But, if he provided his credit card information, the “company” would update his listing immediately. Luckily for this business owner his credit card company found the suspicious transaction and stopped the payment on his behalf.
Similar campaigns have attempted confuse businesses in the past by faxing solicitations for Yellow Pages ads that are designed to look like invoices. However, last year, a federal court judge ordered several organizations to cease this practice and pay 10 million dollars for fooling businesses.
Those companies operated under names Yellow Page Marketing B.V., Yellow Page B.V., Yellow Page (Netherlands) B.V. Yellow Publishing Ltd. and Yellow Data Services Ltd. According to the FTC, those who returned the faxed forms were billed by Yellow Page Marketing and told to send more than $1,000 to a Park Avenue address in New York City.
Additionally, here are a few precautions to take when dealing with business directory solicitations:
- Don’t provide any personal or financial information. Don’t provide your credit card or checking account number to unknown telemarke
- Directories may have names that sound alike, so look closely to see who the offer is from. The term “Yellow Pages” can cause confusion because it isn’t copyrighted, and independent directory publishers use the term as well as local telephone companies.
- Check out the business publishing the directory with Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. BBB Business Reviews provide a BBB rating from A+ to F based on 16 elements, including whether there are complaints and whether complaints are resolved by the business.
- Alert your accounting personnel to be on the lookout for disguised solicitations. Read Yellow Pages offers carefully, including any small print. Look for terms and conditions, as well as costs.
- Read the fine print. Review solicitations and understand the terms, conditions and fees.