Directory Invoice Scam

December 02, 2013

Your Better Business Bureau is warning businesses to be on the lookout for invoices from unfamiliar business directory companies. Those who have complained state that these companies are billing for services they did not order or authorize. 

These types of companies claim to publish business directories and attempt to charge companies for being listed or featured in those directories. However, in many schemes of this nature, businesses are tricked into paying for services for which they weren’t interested or were not aware they would be charged. Often times the invoice provides the name of an actual employee (either present or former) who “authorized” the charges. In many cases, the employee is not in a position to authorize purchases. 

Here’s how directory schemes often work. An employee is contacted usually by fax and asked to fill out a few vague questions to confirm basic company information. What the employee doesn’t realize is that by simply providing this information, they open the door to future billings. The faxes contain fine print stating that by signing and returning the form, the business is agreeing to be charged and listed in the directory, which may or may not even exist. The business is often invoiced for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

These scammers sometimes pretend to be verifying or renewing a company’s “existing” directory listing. They send urgent invoices, create confusion and count on an organization paying to avoid being hounded. When companies refuse to pay, the scammers use high-pressure tactics such as bullying, threatening collection or legal action.

The BBB has the following tips to avoid being the victim of a scam:

  • Designate only certain employees to make company purchases.
  • Train your staff to direct calls to only employees authorized to order supplies and services.
  • Check all documentation before you pay bills. Make sure you intentionally purchased the items for which you have been billed.
  • Know your rights. If you receive supplies or invoices for services you didn’t order, don’t pay. It’s illegal for a seller to invoice you, send threatening notices for merchandise you didn’t order or ask you to return the merchandise.
  • Report fraud. Report this type of scam to the BBB and the Competition Bureau.