YP Helps Customers Avoid Local Business Scams
“When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.”
– Robert Frager
Scammers are clever. They know how to put on a convincing facade, operating under the pretense of doing legitimate business in order to rip-off small business owners. Their scams can be as simple as sending out fake invoices to small businesses and waiting for payment from novice business owners who do not pay close enough attention to their accounting detail.
Thousands of small business owners have been scammed over the years, including some of our very own customers. That’s why YP℠ is taking a proactive stand in helping small business owners avoid becoming victims of harmful scams. We’ve created a YouTube video series covering the four main types of scam. Here’s a sneak peek below:
Fake Invoice Scam
A fake invoice scam happens when a scammer sends out an official-looking invoice (using a company’s logos, the iconic “Walking Fingers” logo, and other official-seeming design elements) and requests immediate payment. Scammers count on small business owners to be too busy to notice any small inaccuracies and assume they’ll simply remit payment without giving it a second thought.
How can a small business owner avoid falling prey to this scam? First, YP never uses the “Walking Fingers” logo on its invoices; it’s only used on the YP, The Real Yellow Pages® print directory. Second, if they aren’t expecting an invoice from YP, they should contact their YP Consultant to verify the charges before submitting payment. Lastly, if the invoice is from a local vendor other than YP and it seems to be fake, they should reach out to the Local Search Association (LSA) for assistance on how to handle.
Any opportunity to receive an unexpected windfall of cash almost always sounds like an exciting proposition. However, if this offer comes completely out of the blue and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to read the fine print on any offers or on the back of checks before taking any action. By cashing a refund or rebate check, a small business owner could be held accountable for fraudulent billing practices (i.e. guilty by association) and then end up having to spend more time and money cleaning up the mess later on. It’s not worth it. A “too good to be true” offer should always be an immediate red flag. However, when in doubt, business owners should contact their YP Consultant or the LSA.
A scammer calls a business, claiming to represent “XYZ print directory,” and asks to verify the business’s directory information. The problem here: “XYZ print directory” doesn’t actually exist. But here’s what happens. The caller records the conversation for one purpose: to get the business owner to say the word “yes.” Then, after the fact, scammers will edit the recording as “evidence” that the business owner agreed to pay for a service. When this happens, business owners should immediately ask the caller for a callback number and then confirm that number’s authenticity with the LSA before providing any information. Also, as hard as this may be during the course of a conversation, never say the word “yes” to an unknown voice on the phone – no matter how nice and friendly the caller sounds.
This scam takes advantage of the fact that small business owners have limited time and resources. They receive an email stating their business website URL will expire if they don’t pay to renew. The scammer tries to create a sense of urgency, motivating a business owner to pay without thinking twice. After all, no business wants its website to go dark, right? But before getting caught in this seemingly harmless trap, business owners should access the WHOIS Lookup, type in their business URL or domain name, and scroll to the bottom of the record to see the actual expiration date. Also, it’s always a good idea to look into your own records to see where you purchased the URL in the first place to see if the information matches up.
YP has been helping consumers find and connect with local service providers that best fit their needs for more than 130 years. We take pride in the trust we have earned from both consumers and small business owners. Want to help other small business owners protect themselves from scams? Watch our videos on YouTube – and share this post and the videos to spread the word.
Categorized in: SMB Solutions