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BBB warns businesses of phone directory scam

What could be worse than falling for a scam over the phone?

How about falling for a scam over the phone perpetrated by someone claiming to represent an online phone directory?

BBB LOGO 109-13The Better Business Bureau issued an alert late last week, warning business owners to be wary of telephone calls from anyone who claims to be representing an online version of the Yellow Pages.

Here’s how it works:


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You get a call from someone who purports to be updating an online directory with some affiliation to the Yellow Pages. He or she asks you to confirm basic information such as your company’s mailing address, telephone number and email address. The caller then reads the information back to you, asking you to confirm it.

Sounds harmless, doesn’t it?

That is until your office gets a bill a few weeks later, charging you hundreds of dollars for your new ad in the online directory — an ad you never agreed to place. That’s what happened recently to a company based in Mason, Ohio, which found itself on the receiving end of an unexpected $599.99 invoice for a one-year “online business listing w/free marketing package.”

You call to complain, of course, only to be told that you agreed to place the ad during the earlier conversation. If you persist, the company representative then plays back a doctored recording of the earlier call, which makes it appear you were saying “yes” to place the ad, not to confirm information.

So, should you get such a call, the BBB advises you to:

■ Hang up before you acknowledge anything having to do with your company.

■ Remember that the “Yellow Pages” is not trademarked, meaning anyone can use that name or logo in fraudulent sales pitches.

■ Don’t trust caller ID — the name that shows up on your phone may have no connection to the person on the other end of the line.

■ File a complaint with the BBB.

For a more detailed report on this scam, read this account from the BBB serving eastern Pennsylvania.

If you have any personal experience with this scam — either as a target or a victim — email me at or give me a call at 505-823-3847.