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Better Business Bureau warns Montanans on Yellow Pages scam

Published On: Jul 22 2013 10:31:06 AM MDT
Updated On: Jul 22 2013 06:42:04 PM MDT

The problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world.

SPOKANE, Wash. -

The following is a news release from the Better Business Bureau:

"Better Business Bureau is warning of an increase in various ‘Yellow Pages’ scams targeting businesses in our region. Our BBB has received multiple calls from business owners in both Eastern Washington and Montana claiming to owe for ‘Yellow Pages’ advertisements, which the business has no recollection of placing.

 

Some businesses have received a physical invoice, whereas others are harassed by phone calls from supposed ‘Yellow Pages’ representatives stating the business has a signed contract and will be sent to collections if they don’t pay over the phone. In some cases, businesses report the scammers will have edited voice recordings of the company agreeing to the advertisement.

 

“This is an old scam resurfacing with a twist,” said Chelsea Maguire, Director of Communications at the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho & Montana. “Scammers use the familiar ‘Yellow Pages’ name and ‘walking fingers’ logo to look more legitimate. Never give out payment without thoroughly researching the company first.”

BBB offers the following advice to businesses to avoid losing money to this scam:

  • If a solicitation occurs over the phone, ask the company to submit requests in writing for you to verify accuracy. If the information is received in writing, be sure to read it fully and look for disclaimers that may be included indicating that you are approving advertising fees. 
  • Ask the company to provide a copy of the original agreement with your signature. If they cannot or will not provide such proof, this is a red flag. 
  • If a solicitation occurs over the internet or via email and the company is not one you recognize, make sure not to click on any of the links, confirmation buttons, or renewal buttons. By doing so you may be agreeing to receive or subscribe to an undesired service or listing, or could unleash a virus or spyware onto your computer.
  • Keep written records of all companies you have as a vendor or advertise with, so it’s easy to confirm if the call or invoice is legitimate.
  • When trying to identify the solicitor, make sure to verify that the address they are claiming to be from is brick and mortar- a "suite" can easily be a PO Box or a mail forwarding company, which means that the company's representatives are concealing their true location and will not be found at the address that is advertised.
  • If your company falls victim to a ‘Yellow Pages’ scam or winds up receiving an invoice for a service or product that was not authorized, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov and the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

If you are approached with an invoice or over the phone and you are unsure of its legitimacy, call your BBB at 509-455-4200. "