I’d like to focus on one thing and one thing only today. If you own a business or if you’re in charge of managing the paperwork/reading the mail for a business, I encourage you to pay close attention.
The continued proliferation of spammy emails, misleading banner advertisements, and fake newsletters has shown that as technology evolves, so too, do hoaxes and scams aiming to covertly take money from the unsuspecting.
Twice now in the past three weeks the people behind a grossly unethical scam have attempted to steal my money. It’s my hope that sharing information about this scam will keep local businesses from unwittingly handing over their hard-earned money to the company behind this scam – Yellow Pages United.
Some say it starts with a phone call. A phone call in which someone wishes to “verify your phone book listing details”.
Here’s the unthinkable part: A quick Google search shows how Yellow Pages United has taken these recorded phone calls, cut and mixed them, then later played them back to business owners so it sounds as if they have actual proof of the business owner agreeing to additional services or upgrades.
In other words, if you ever receive a phone call from someone asking to verify your phone book or online yellow pages listing, hang up immediately.
Though I myself never received a phone call from Yellow Pages United, I did receive their “Invoice”. You can see an image of the envelope this document came in right here. The Invoice Enclosed text means it’s almost impossible to categorize the envelope’s contents as junk mail upon first glance.
The sheet of paper inside the envelope reads INVOICE in bold, capital letters across the top. It shows a fake, scanned order request. Yellow Pages United even crossed out my correct phone and fax numbers, replacing them with incorrect numbers hoping that I’d call to their customer service number and ask them to fix my incorrect contact info — which in turn acts as me acknowledging and approving the listing.
Take a look at a scan of the fake invoice I received.
Disturbingly, if you take a moment to read the fine print below the faked order request, you’ll find it states that “THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE ORDER OF GOODS OR SERVICES … AND NOT A BILL, INVOICE, OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE….” The text goes on, but I think you get the point. The best part of the fine print asks you to review the terms of the agreement on the back of the sheet of paper; there are none.
Not only does the document says “ORDER SIGNED BY - ERIN PHEIL” when I never signed a thing, but there’s an actual signature on the document. And plain and simple, that is NOT my signature. I don’t and never will sign my name with a capital “E”.
Yellow Pages United forged my signature, looking to make the document appear to be a previously-handled agreement. I’m far from a lawyer, but it’s my understanding that forgery is illegal.
Outraged by these marketing tactics? Work with honest, ethical marketing experts to get results for your business instead:
Unfortunately, the Walking Fingers logo is in the public domain and can thus be used freely by anyone in the United States. Same goes for the phrase “Yellow Pages”.
Remember: despite the repeated instances of INVOICE on the Yellow Pages United envelope and document, and despite the document stating twice that that $296.00 is the AMOUNT DUE NOW… these pieces of paper are nothing but an underhanded attempt to take money from busy, hardworking people who can’t remember whether or not they signed up with this particular Yellow Pages company.
In the end there’s really nothing to worry about here so long as:
While you may not want Yellow Pages United to promote your business, perhaps you're searching for a smart way to increase revenue through online marketing. If that's you, then: