For those in business, advertising through the Yellow Pages has been a tried and true method of increasing a customer base. The name Yellow Pages nor the “Walking Fingers” logo, however, are not copyrighted and is now being used by scammers who mass distribute advertisements, invoices, and even checks with the intent of committing fraud. As a result, companies must use caution in dealing with a company that is imitating one that has, for so many years, been well-established and reliable.
This makes it even more important than ever to use caution with dealing with companies by name only. Many older businesses who have taken years to develop a solid reputation are now facing the repercussions of this type of fraud or deceit. Although information received may appear to be the real thing, or even is a copy, they are just that, Photoshop copies. In other cases individuals have received documents with a category along with a request to review the ad and confirm that everything is correct. Unfortunately, the company sending the request is not the real Yellow Pages.
The documents distributed often appear authentic. As a result, it’s easy to believe that the copy of the ad or the confirmation documentation and invoice actually came from the Yellow Pages. What is provided in some instances, instead, is a listing in an obscure directory which sometimes includes addition to the Internet low-hit Yellow Pages directory, but many other times provides nothing in return for the investment. Companies in the business of scamming are very different entities for those who have worked tirelessly to develop a standard that makes them number one.
Since scams are on the increase, several companies such as Loss Prevention Concepts, Ltd. have generated guidelines to help businesses who have been contacted by individuals’ intent on fraud. They suggest that dealing only with local representatives who specialize in Yellow Pages advertising will prevent the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime. They also suggest that building a solid reputation through customer satisfaction is the best way to increase customer base. As current customers spread the word about a company’s great products and services, others will follow. Although there are many benefits to receiving the exposure provided through print and Internet marketing, unless customers’ expectations are met by the business, the results will be short-lived.
The Federal Trade Commission is taking action now to cease these kinds of unlawful practices. In one case in Canada, for instance, perpetrators deceptively sold listings for Internet businesses along with website hosting services to unsuspecting Spanish speaking business owners. Defendants were told that the individuals were calling to update information as part of their renewal policy. They evaded questions related to costs saying only that it was the same as last year. They would then illegally bill these businesses over and over again who were located in the US and Puerto Rico for listings that had not been ordered. Not only are these con artists going to be prohibited from ever running a business again, but will have to give up the money they did collect.
As a business owner it’s important to protect personal identity and investments as much as it is for individuals. Should a solicitation contact be made it is always prudent to be wary and to contact a local representatives to ensure the call or email is authentic. Although the FTC and FAA are doing their best to shut down these operations as they begin, it will take cautious individuals filing numerous complaints in order to actually make a difference.