Scammers using Yellow Pages Walking Fingers
Do you work at a doctor’s office? A nonprofit? How about a church, retirement home, or small business? Then you might be interested to hear that the FTC has stopped some scammers targeting businesses and organizations like yours.
Here’s how the schemes worked, according to the FTC: Businesses with names like “American Yellow Group,” “American Yellow Corporation,” or “Medical Yellow Directories” would send bills with the well-known “walking fingers” logo to small businesses and nonprofits all over the U.S. The charges — several hundred dollars’ worth — were for supposed listings in business directories.
The invoices were fake, but the scammers included details — like the name of someone from the targeted organization and a visual of how the listing would appear — to make people believe their employer had already agreed to buy a listing. And the U.S. mailing address for payments simply forwarded checks to Canada, where the scammers were based.
So what if you just ignored the invoices? You’d get more outrageous charges for thousands of dollars, and statements like “COLLECTION WARNING” and “LAST CHANCE TO PROTECT YOUR CREDIT SCORE IN GOOD STANDING!!!” Still not paying? Then you’d get dunning notices from the company, now posing as a debt collector.
Here’s what to know to help protect your organization:
- Tell your employer and coworkers. You can send them a link to this blog post and this article, which talks about several small business scams.
- Inspect invoices. Larger companies usually have a purchasing department. But even in small businesses, it’s wise to designate a point person for office supplies, directory listings, subscriptions, and other things you buy periodically. Tell your staff that all purchasing calls should go through that person and keep a central file of your usual suppliers.
- Verify. Check a company out for free at the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org), and read the BBB’s report on them. Also try doing an online search using the company name and words like “complaint” or “scam.”
- File a complaint. If you’re getting bogus bills, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and with the BBB. If the scheme involved the U.S. mail, submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You also can alert your state Attorney General.
Please pass this information on to to family and friends. There may still be some scammers using this ploy, and the more people who know about it, the less will get taken.
Copied from Federal Trade Commission Website