Denver, CO – August 18, 2011 – In October 2010, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned about an entity that appeared to be trying to scam local businesses by sending unsolicited faxes that deceived them into paying for Yellow Pages listings. The entity went by the names Yellow Pages B.V., Yellow Publishing Ltd and YellowPage-Colorado.com.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has uncovered the individual and operations behind this scheme and is putting a stop to it.
According to a recent FTC announcement, a federal judge has temporarily halted the European-based operation that has allegedly bilked small businesses and nonprofit organizations, including churches, out of millions of dollars by deceiving them into ordering and then paying for unwanted listings in online business directories. In addition to stopping the allegedly deceptive practices, the court also froze the defendants’ assets. The FTC seeks to permanently stop the illegal practices and to require that the defendants provide refunds to their victims.
Last year, a Denver flooring company was a target of this scam when it was contacted by Yellow Pages B.V. via fax and asked to update a few search words and key industry phrases to, “help people locate your company.” The form, which required a signature and date turned out to be a contract for two years of advertising. The company referred to the form’s fine print which was illegible due to poor fax quality.
About a month and a half later, the company received an invoice for $1,068 with a late fee of $20.
This scenario echoes what other businesses around the world claim to have experienced as well as the FTC’s complaint. Yellow Pages B.V. has an F rating with the BBB with over 500 complaints on file, many of which have gone unanswered or unresolved.
The BBB offers the following tips for businesses dealing with Yellow Page solicitations:
- Look closely at any Yellow Pages bill before paying it. If you have a question about the legitimacy of a 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.
- While it is not always the case, bogus invoices often are marked with the notice “This is Not a Bill.” They may lack a contact phone number.
- If you suspect you have received a call, fax or mailing from a bogus Yellow Pages entity, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the BBB, and/or the Yellow Pages Association at 1-800-841-0639.
- Check the BBB Business Review on any company that has contacted you before signing anything or giving any information. Visit www.bbb.org or call 609-588-0808.
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About the BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.