Is it a bill, or an ad?

May 01, 2017

BBB warns businesses about an advertisement that looks like an invoice

Buffalo, NY—Several people are filing complaints, Customer Reviews, and Scam Tracker reports to Better Business Bureau® of Upstate New York about a company named Web ListingsBBB is warning people to read the correspondence carefully; it is an advertisement that looks identical to an invoice.



Consumers are telling us that the company is mailing advertising pieces that look like an invoice, with a reference to the person’s website, and a list of services. BBB has closed 32 complaints in the past three years, which is our reporting period. The company has a rating of D-.

A Better Business Bureau investigation into the company showed it lists an address of a UPS Store in Niagara Falls, NY. This business also has a pattern of complaints claiming the advertising looks like a bill and is misleading. While there is a disclaimer on the document, at first glance, it looks like an invoice. 

BBB notified the business of our concerns and requested voluntary cooperation in eliminating the pattern of complaints. The business has not responded to our most recent request.  

Reports from across the United States are coming into our Scam Tracker:

Arkansas: “They sent what looks like an INVOICE for $85 and in fact it is not - they are fishing (sic). It does state "this is not a bill, this is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay this amount stated above unless you accept this offer." Regardless, this practice of sending out "pretend" invoices needs to be stopped! Thank you!”

Oregon: “This company sends a letter that looks exactly like a bill, it even includes a remittance envelope. It says that it is for "annual website search engine listings" however our company is already listed in Google, they are trying to confuse people that already have a registered domain. Since our domain information has to be public, as a medical business, they easily found our information and sent us this fake bill. This is unacceptable that they are just sending fake bills to people. They ask the check to be sent to an address that is a box at a UPS store. Awful. Hope this can be reported to the authorities.”

Illinois: “Web Listings Inc. has sent a solicitation letter that has been specifically designed to look like an invoice for services. Their solicitation includes references to my website, a payment stub, and a return envelope to make it appear legitimate.”

Massachusetts: “A solicitation for a service was sent to me. I believe they deliberately make it look like a bill. There was no marketing or promotional material accompanying this form. Just this one page.”

Better Business Bureau knows that in some cases, scammers do try to take advantage of busy business owners by sending a fake invoice; hoping they pay it with legitimate invoices.

BBB offers the following advice to avoid falling victim to an invoicing scam:

Question the services. If you or anyone in your company didn't order the services, or if you don’t have a history with that company, do not supply any personal information or submit payments. You are not legally required to pay the invoice.

Train the staff. Inform employees to be aware of potential invoice/computer and phone scams. Encourage them to flag suspect invoices for review.

Keep up-to-date records. Record an updated list of vendors and services your business is associated with to avoid falling for a scam that looks similar to a legitimate company.

BBB wants any business that encounters one of these advertisements/invoices to file a complaint or a Scam Tracker report with us.

For the latest on trending scams, visit BBB’s Scam Tracker.