Many businesses across the country have received what appears to be invoices for ad space in the familiar, locally distributed, yellow pages directories.
The Better Business Bureau warns that these invoices are actually solicitations for listings in alternative business directories that differ from the well-known yellow pages. In fact, the alternative directories may not be that widely distributed, can be of little or no value to advertisers, or may never be published at all.
Recently, faxes from a company based in the United Kingdom called Yellow Publishing Ltd. has a type of “walking fingers” logo featured in the pageheader and the website www.YellowPage-Ontario.com, www.YellowPage-BritishColumbia.com and other Provincial name variations. This company has no affiliation with the Canadian-based Yellow Pages Group, who produces directories like, SuperPages, Talking Superpages, and www.superpages.ca.
'Businesses need to have strict controls over who is authorized to make advertising purchases because the ad opportunities may not be with who you think they are from,' warns BBB. 'When placing directory ads businesses need to ask where the ads will appear and what are the circulation numbers are to determine if it is a good fit for their ad dollars.'
The Yellow Publishing Ltd. ad states there is free submission to www.google.com, but in the fine print, the registrant who signs up is agreeing to be billed $119 monthly for a period of two years for the directory listing.
In other alternative business directory solicitations it may look like a legitimate invoice. It may feature the name "yellow pages" or include the familiar "walking fingers" logo and falsely state that the publisher is affiliated with the local telephone company or another bona fide yellow pages publisher.
Potential advertisers are often misled by the name or logo to think that the outfit using them is affiliated with the publisher that distributes local telephone books and yellow pages directories. However, there is no connection between publishers of alternative directories and those of the well-known Yellow Pages.
Language used on the ad solicitations, such as "prompt payment is necessary to guarantee ad placement" or "directory listing renewal invoice", only adds to the confusion.
There will always be schemers who send disguised solicitations, but the law states that it is illegal to mail a bill, invoice or statement of account due that is really a solicitation, unless it boldly bears specific disclaimers. It should clearly state, in large type that "this is not a bill."
Businesses can protect themselves by alerting their accounting department or bill-payers to be on the look-out for disguised solicitations and carefully check suspicious bills from companies with which they don't normally do business. To check the reliability of the company that is sending the solicitation, businesses may contact the BBB where the company is located. Visit bbb.org.
More details from Yellow Pages Group:
Yellow Pages Group Warns Canadian Businesses About Phone Book Scams