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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Central and Northern Alberta
Directory Scam Targets Local Businesses
April 10, 2014

Recently, businesses have received threatening calls from scammers demanded they pay fake invoices or risk going to collections. Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns businesses to confirm who they are dealing with before paying any invoice and to closely monitor your financial statements.

Businesses look to advertising to help them reach more customers. They often receive renewal notices from advertising companies to ensure their spot is saved. However, scammers are using this to get businesses to pay invoices for advertising they never ordered.

Concerned businesses tell BBB that out of the blue they received calls demanding payment for advertising they didn’t request. The business is told if they don’t pay immediately, their file will be referred to collections. When the business requests copies of previous invoices or proof of contracts, the scammer repeats the threat or hangs up.

In the past three years, BBB received 565 inquiries and 9 complaints about 411 Business Directory Assistance Inc. When BBB contacted the advertising company regarding individual complaints, they indicated their database was hacked, the invoices were faked, they have no record of that customer and the invoice is void. But what would happen if a BBB complaint wasn’t filed?

“Invoice scams are increasing and often revolve around advertising or office supplies,” says Ron Mycholuk, Public Relations Manager for BBB of Central and Northern Alberta. “Business owners need to be alert for suspicious invoices, calls and door to door sales targeting their livelihood."

How can I protect my business? Take the following steps to protect your company from business directory fraud.

  • Train your staff to spot scams. Educate your employees about how this and other scams work. In addition to your regular receptionist, talk to everyone who may answer phones. Mention it in staff meetings and put it up on bulletin boards.
  • Inspect your invoices. The easiest way to protect from directory fraud is to know what you are paying for at all times and when those invoices are due. Have a few people with purchasing authority and funnel all sales inquiries and invoices to them. Create a list of the companies you normally use for supplies, advertising, support, etc so your staff knows who they should be dealing with.
  • Verify to clarify. Before paying any fishy invoice, check them out at Edmonton.bbb.org.
  • File a complaint. If a scammer is sending bogus bills or making threatening claims, speak up. Visit our website and complain to your BBB.

These tips might not stop your business from being targeted, but it should help your staff stop the signs before you get scammed.

BBB urges consumers to contact visit edmonton.bbb.org or contact your BBB at (780) 482-2341 for more information about invoice scams.

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