Better Business Bureau advises small businesses to be careful when receiving phone calls that claim to be offering a free directory update.
BBB recently received complaints from companies that reported being contacted by representatives of IntegriTel Wireless of San Antonio, Texas who claimed to be with the Yellow Pages and later receiving bills for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services they didn’t order.
Bruce MacDonald of Massachusetts was among those who reported the company. MacDonald reportedly got a call on Feb. 19, 2013 at his business. MacDonald said the caller claimed to be updating a free directory with Yellow Pages, but later billed his company for services he did not ask for.
“They called, saying they wanted to update our free Yellow Pages listing,” MacDonald said. “They asked if I was authorized to speak for my company and I said ‘no.’ They asked the name of our company again and our phone number—the number he called. I asked, ‘This is a free listing?’ and they said yes, they were updating our business address. They told me our address and asked me to repeat it. The phone call lasted about three minutes.”
MacDonald said his company received a bill in the mail on April 2, 2013 from IntegriTel Wireless for $49.99 for SEO services. A week and a half later, he said, the company got another bill for $99.98 for two months for SEO services.
MacDonald said he researched IntegriTel and found it to be associated with a Yellow Pages scam. He filed complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau and said he hasn’t heard any more from them or received another bill.
“We check every invoice and match them to purchase orders,” MacDonald said.
BBB offers these tips for business on “free directory” offers:
- Route the calls to a single employee. Any calls to confirm directory listings or advertising should be forwarded to one employee or small department. That employee should be trained in how to confirm that a directory is legitimate and keep a list of every directory your company has agreed to be in. This ensures that your advertising and directory listings are tracked, and prevents scammers from claiming that another employee agreed to charges.
- Watch for fraud. Alert your accounting personnel to be on the lookout for disguised solicitations, fake invoices and fraudulent phone calls. Read directory offers carefully, including any small print. Look for terms and conditions, as well as costs.
- Don’t give out damaging information. If you do receive a phone call about a directory update, be sure not to provide payment on the phone. Even a simple “Yes” answer to any question could be recorded and used to claim that your company agreed to be billed.
- File a complaint. If a scammer is sending you bogus bills, speak up. Visit bbb.org to complain to BBB. And let the FTC know by filing a complaint at ftc.gov or calling 877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Concerned about business directory fraudsters’ threats to tarnish your credit if you don’t pay? Many will simply drop the matter — and may even provide a refund — if they know you’ve complained to BBB and law enforcement.