Beware business directory scam

Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns Vancouver Island businesses to be wary of fax and e-mail solicitations currently targeting local companies encouraging them to advertise in a business directory with a similar name to another reputable business directory

Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns Vancouver Island businesses to be wary of fax and e-mail solicitations currently targeting local companies encouraging them to advertise in a business directory with a similar name to another reputable business directory.

BBB has recently received numerous calls from local businesses stating that they are receiving unsolicited online directory advertising order forms from a company that at first glance could be misconstrued to represent the Yellow Pages. The company issuing the order form claims to be updating business directory information for YellowPage-BritishColumbia.com on behalf of Yellow Publishing Ltd. The order form includes logo very similar to the traditional Yellow Pages logo (an image of walking index fingers).

Businesses should be warned that this directory advertising opportunity has no affiliation with the Yellow Pages Group or with YellowPages.ca online. It also has no affiliation with YellowPages.com or the AT+T Real Yellow Pages.

If you fill out, sign and return the order form your business may be held legally responsible to fulfill a two-year contract payable one year in advance with 14-day payment terms to the Yellow Publishing Ltd. One local business reports being billed over $1,400 for advertising they did not realize they were purchasing.

Businesses just like consumers really need to pay attention to the details, fine print and to do their homework before filling out any forms and signing any documents,” says Rosalind Scott, Executive Director of BBB Vancouver Island. “Businesses may find that this other directory advertising opportunity, or even other similar ones, are something they are interested in participating in and are of value to their company. However, there are many business directory opportunities that mislead businesses into believing they are getting something that they are in fact not getting. In this particular case, at first glance the order forms appear to be for an online Yellow Pages ad when in fact it is for something very different.”

Both businesses locally and across Canada were the target of this mass mail out misleading directory advertising opportunity at approximately the same time last year.

To protect your business from unknowingly signing up for advertising consider the following tips:

Stay informed on current scams and suspicious activities targeting businesses. Visit vi.bbb.org for regular updates;

Educate your staff about this advertising ploy and other scams targeting businesses;

Do not give out private business information without carefully confirming who you are giving it to;

Before doing business with any company check them out locally at vi.bbb.org and internationally at bbb.org;

Make a list of specific directories that you wish to advertise in each year and only advertise and make payments to those specific companies (watch for fake order forms and invoices!).

If you think you’re the target of a business scam inform the BBB.