Benjamin Franklin once quipped that “tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” If true, it would certainly explain why some deceptive businesses never seem to quit; maybe they are just fool-hearted.
These deceptive businesses never seem to run out of ideas either, and they use a wide variety of practices. But sometimes two businesses forego the variety and elect to use similar tactics. And in rare cases, the businesses using the same questionable tactics actually turn out to be operated by the same individuals.
BBB found this to be the case with two telecommunications companies, U.S. Telecom and National Telecompany. U.S. Telecom, which claimed to operate in Dallas throughout the last few months of 2013, mailed out invoices that were actually very well disguised solicitations to unsuspecting companies. These mailings appeared to be charging the recipient for vague services that had been neither requested nor received. The fine print included an easily-missed disclosure stating that the mailing was, in fact, nothing more than a solicitation. Needless to say, the businesses receiving these “invoices” were a bit perturbed.
U.S. Telecom’s questionable practices have not gone unnoticed. Since 2012, Attorneys General in no less than eight different states have taken action against the business, most recently in Kansas in March of this year. Most of these actions were cease and desist orders, with some including civil penalties and monetary fines.
A related company called National Telecompany recently came to BBB’s attention. BBB received a complaint about this business stating that an invoice had been received for unrequested services that was actually just a solicitation. Sound familiar?
BBB thought so. After a little bit of digging, it was discovered that although the two businesses had different names and operated out of different addresses, they were run by the same man employing the same business practices. BBB also found that although National Telecompany uses a Dallas address, it is unlikely that the company actually has a physical presence in the area.
While there may not be a way to avoid receiving these fake invoices, there are simple ways to ensure that you won’t get taken in by them. If you receive a bill from a company that you don’t recognize or don’t remember doing business with, double check it. Always research the company before making any payments, which you can easily do with BBB at www.bbb.org.