Yellow pages scam targets Roxboro school

June 7, 2013 12:39:05 PM PDT
Bills and collection calls for a service you say you never signed up for -- that's what was happening to a Roxboro school.

Susan Brooks with Roxboro Christian Academy got an unsolicited call while working. While she said the call seemed stranged, she never thought it would mean collection notices months later.

"We received a call from online yellow pages saying that we had requested an advertisement and they were looking for payment," Susan said.

She said she told the rep the school never requested the ad. When asked if she wanted to cancel, Susan says she told the man yes. When asked if she was the authorized person to cancel it, she said yes.

All of those yes's came back to Susan months later when she got an invoice from the online local yellow pages for more than $600. Susan says she called the company right away. She said the man offered to play back a recording where she answered questions.

"But when he played the recording back, the answers that were asked at that time were not the same questions that I answered the yes and no's to earlier. It was my voice saying yes and my voice saying no, but it was not the same questions," Susan said.

She refused to pay the bill, but the calls and invoices for payment for collections kept coming.

Roxboro Christian Academy is not alone as postal inspector's it's happened to many businesses. Inspectors say don't be fooled by someone using the name "yellow pages" and the iconic walking fingers logo, as those companies trying to trick you often use recognizable brands to gain your confidence.

"They would receive threatening letters, threatening phone calls saying they were going to report them to collection agencies and have lawyers call them.  In most cases the attorney wasn't a real attorney. The collection agency-- it was just another person who worked at that company," U.S. Postal Inspector Christopher Cizin said.

I reached out to the online local yellow pages that sent Susan the invoices. No one ever got back to me, but the demand for payment stopped.

Susan said the next time the school's phone rings she will think twice before answering any questions.

"We can't even afford to pay our teachers what they're worth here, why would I want a $600 service from you?" Susan said.

Over the years, lots of warnings and actions taken against people who set up these online yellow pages companies like this trying to take advantage of businesses.

The problem, despite the FTC shutting down several fake yellow page businesses down, is that more keep popping up.

The best advice is do not answer any questions from unsolicited calls or mailings, especially if it pertains to financial or billing information, even if it is just verify your business name and address.

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