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BBB Warns of Yellow Page Scams being Run by Local Operations

10/3/2011

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BBB is warning of a Yellow Pages Scam that is being run by four local operations. One is located in Vermont - Business Solutions Online, and the other three operations are located in Massachusetts - Open Business Directory Limited, Official Yellow Guide Inc. and Yellow Page Solutions. Businesses throughout the country are receiving fraudulent invoices from these operations for unauthorized online advertising.

“BBB encourages businesses to carefully read any bill or invoice they receive before paying it,” says Paula Fleming, BBB Spokesperson. “Don’t provide your business information or a payment if you do not remember requesting the service. Thoroughly check out any organization that sends you a bill, especially if you believe the services were unauthorized.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently uncovered several operations that were running previous Yellow Page listing scams. Several small businesses, non-profits and churches in Colorado were bilked out of millions of dollars after being tricked in paying for unwanted listings in online business directories by Yellow Pages BV. The FTC seeks to permanently stop these illegal practices and to require that the organization refund their victims.

The operations in Massachusetts and Vermont have had several complaints filed against them by businesses regarding billing or advertising issues. Business Solutions Online is located in Derby Line, Vermont and has an F Rating with BBB. They are also listed at the same address under the name Business Network Power Online Services. There are 22 complaints filed against this entity, several of which are unresolved.

Open Business Directory Ltd. is located in Boston, Massachusetts and is also known as Yellowpageusa.com. They have an F Rating with BBB, as well as 52 unanswered complaints. Official Yellow Guide Inc. is also based in Boston, Massachusetts, with a BBB Rating of F. There are 15 unanswered complaints against this operation. They are known under several other names, including Yellow Business Directory, and American Yellow Directory.

Yellow Page Solutions is located in Woburn, Massachusetts. Businesses state that Yellow Page Solutions sent them invoices for online advertising that were never agreed to. When confronting the operation about the unauthorized charges, businesses report that Yellow Page Solutions claim that a verbal contract was agreed to and if the past due amount is not paid, the business will be sent to collections.

In several cases, when businesses file a complaint with BBB against Business Solutions Online or Yellow Page Solutions, their desired settlement is a zero balance on their account. When BBB contacts these operations regarding the complaint, they state that they have audio taped receipts for the online advertising services. Upon review of the audio, the operation claims there was a ‘misunderstanding’ and agrees to terminate all fees, as well as to remove information about the business from their database.

BBB offers the following tips for businesses that receive Yellow Page solicitations or invoices:

• Look over each bill closely before paying it. If you have a question about the legitimacy of your bill, contact your Yellow Pages representative.

• Channel all invoices through one department and make sure they are cleared with the appropriate executives before they are paid.

• Bogus invoices are sometimes marked with the notice ‘This is Not a Bill”. They may also lack a phone number.

• Check the BBB Business Review on any business that has contacted you before signing anything or giving out any payments or information.

If you believe you have received a call, fax or mailing from a bogus Yellow Pages entity, file a complaint with BBB. You can also contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission or the Yellow Page Association.

For more information about scams and advice you can trust as a business owner, visit bbb.org.
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