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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
In Central & Western Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut
Phony Invoices Scam Still Targeting Small Businesses
June 11, 2014

BBB of Central New England is warning local businesses about an old scam using a new name. Small businesses across the country are receiving bogus invoices for “Yellow Page” listings that were never authorized from Yellow Business Book out of Devens, MA. These scammers are in no way connected to the nationally recognized Yellow Page directory.

 

Yellow Business Book has an “F” rating, the lowest BBB grade. During the past 10 months. BBB of Central New England has processed 10 complaints against Yellow Business Book. Complainants allege receiving invoices for services they never authorized. Scams of this nature are frequently reported to BBBs across the country. The fraudulent businesses have different names, but have the same motives and are usually easily misinterpreted as being related to YellowPages. All businesses claim the victim owes money for advertising or directory services that victims claim they did not authorize. Some fraudulent companies even go so far as to make calls to businesses, asking rudimentary yes and no questions, and then recording the phone conversations. The yes or no statements are possibly edited into a phone agreement for the authorization and ordering of phony or obscure business listings. Months later the targeted business receives an invoice claiming they are past due. When a business calls to refute the charges, they are played the doctored audio conversation featuring an employee’s voice authorizing the charges.

 “It is important to train all employees to recognize a possible phone directory scam,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “Alerting all employees to this possibility and requiring them to follow-up on questionable invoices could save the business hundreds of dollars and confusion.”

 Yellow Business Books phone number is currently disconnected and an investigation conducted by BBB revealed that the address for the business is actually a PO Box in Devens, MA. The business does not respond to all complaints, but in the complaints they respond to, they state they will suspend or void the consumers account. Yellow Business Book has no proof to validate the bill, but they are hoping unsuspecting businesses pay the bill without question. BBB reached out to the business to address the pattern of complaints, but as of June 2, 2014, the business has not responded. 

 Here are some red flags to watch for:

  •  A caller claims to be a business partner or advertising affiliate, yet asks to confirm the name and address of the company that he or she is calling.
  • A caller claims to be a business partner or advertising affiliate and wishes to confirm, re-enroll, or renew a contract or business deal over the phone. No confirmation or any business deal should be conducted over the phone. Any business in the official capacity should be conducted in writing.
  •          If a solicitation occurs over the phone, the employee should not encourage, agree, or disagree to any product or service unless they have explicit permission to do so. All marketing or advertising materials should be sent in writing to the appropriate department. 
  •          If a solicitation occurs over the internet or via email and the company is not one you recognize, make sure not to click on any of the links, confirmation buttons, or renewal buttons. By doing so you may be agreeing to receive or subscribe to an undesired service or listing.
  • ·         When trying to identify the solicitor, make sure to verify that the address that they are claiming to be from is brick and mortar as a "suite" can easily be a PO Box or a mail forwarding company. The company's representatives may be concealing their true location and might not be found at the advertised address.
  • ·         If your company is a victim to a yellow pages scam or winds up receiving an invoice for a service or product that was not authorized, send a certified letter to the business stating the advertisement was never authorized, the recording is not legitimate, and to cease and desist contact and billing immediately.  Additionally, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org and the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
  • ·         Start with Trust! Contact the BBB first by going to www.bbb.org or by calling (866)566-9222.