Protect Your Business from Bogus Yellow Pages Billing
January 15, 2009 | Contributed by: Kacy Hayner
Look closely at your Yellow Pages bills before you pay them. Industry experts estimate that as much as $500 million is being lost each year through misleading and fraudulent billing.
These bogus bills are easily mistaken as legitimate invoices from a Yellow Pages publisher. In many cases, telemarketers working for the fraudulent companies use misleading and confusing statements to obtain agreements from owners and employees.
These fraudulent companies may actually publish a directory, but distribution is usually limited to the advertisers themselves as well as an unspecified number of public libraries, chambers of commerce, gasoline service stations, government agencies, and other non-traditional target markets.
What to Look For
Fraudulent Yellow Pages bills are generally for less than $200 — a relatively small bill that can be unsuspectingly and routinely paid without arising suspicion.
Bills often carry the famous Walking Fingers logo, causing businesses to assume the bill is coming from their legitimate Yellow Pages publisher.
Bogus invoices typically proclaim that “This Is Not a Bill,” list no telephone number and often have lots of fine print on the back. The fine print usually states that they are not affiliated with any local or long distance telephone company.
What You Can Do
If you believe you have received a bogus bill, don’t pay it. Review the bill and fine print carefully. Check your files for contracts you have with Yellow Pages publishers to make sure the bill is for advertising you have actually ordered.
We can also help you determine if the bill is bogus. You can contact me with any questions.
If you determine the bill is bogus, you should do the following:
- Notify the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They track these schemes and can take action.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau. They can issue an advisory to help tip off other potential victims.
- Contact the Yellow Pages publishers you advertise with. Many have active programs to help combat fraudulent Yellow Pages billing.
- Educate others. Post it or circulate it among your accounts payable staff members so that they can also be on the lookout for bogus bills.