Businesses have been contacting the BBB reporting that companies misrepresenting themselves are harassing them in attempts to sell advertising in a business directory. In these business directory scams an employee at the local business is typically called via phone by a “directory salesperson” and asked to confirm the contact information for their company. In some instances, the sales person claims they are with a legitimate directory company (i.e. Canpages, Telus, Yellow Pages etc), or with a company whose name is very close to a commonly known directory company. The sales person implies that they just need to confirm that the contact information is correct before the next edition of the directory is published.
Business owners later receive an outrageously priced invoice for an advertisement that has been placed in a directory being published by an unknown or unfamiliar directory company. In many circumstances the invoice states that the ad will be placed on a CD or DVD that will be distributed as a business directory. The reality is that CD/DVD with the business directory listings are often only sent to other companies that have been duped into advertising.
When business fail to pay the invoice believing that they have been unjustly charged for advertising they did not agree to, the unknown directory company threatens collections against the business and charges against the employee that confirmed the information.
To protect your business and your staff from becoming a victim of this scam consider the following:
- All your staff and employees need to be educated about the existence of this scam and what type of information they are allowed to give out over the phone about your business.
- Carefully cross-reference every invoice you receive with suppliers and services that your business typically uses.
- Carefully read the fine print on all invoices and advertising opportunities that you do receive so that you clearly understand what you are paying for.
- For all paid advertising opportunities be sure to ask for a signed, written contract and sample proof of the ad being posted/published.
- Have only one person in the company responsible for reviewing and signing contracts.
- If you receive an invoice for what you believe is a directory scam, immediately contact the directory company in writing to explain your concerns and ask for copies of any documentation that they have proving you agreed to participate in the advertising opportunity.
For more information on business related scams and prevention tips visit the News Centre