Yellow pages scam: 'Threatening letters, threatening phone calls'

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - When you are a small company, any listing can help traffic new business, but it's important to do your research into any phone book listing before you buy it.

The name "Yellow Pages" and the iconic "walking fingers" logo are not copyright or trademark protected. Scam artists use that to their advantage in an effort to take advantage of small business owners.

"They would call or mail a solicitation under the guise that it was an invoice for the Yellow Pages advertisement," U.S. postal inspector, Christopher Cizin, said.

When those ad solcitations arrive, small business owners often times fill out the paperwork assuming they're updating their current yellow pages listing.

"Then, shortly after that they would receive an invoice for $499, $599 or $1,299 for an online listing in the Yellow Pages," Cizin said.

If companies don't pay that invoice, postal inspectors say scammers tried the intimidation factor.

"They would receive threatening letters, threatening phone calls saying they were going to report them to collection agencies and have lawyers call them," Cizin said.

Postal inspectors say small business owners should always request additional information from a solicitor. Ask how, where and how often the directory will be distributed. Also, check with your local yellow pages publisher to see if they are affiliated with the solicitor. Postal Inspectors say online yellow pages scams can be just as tricky and hard to spot. Always ask questions to figure out exactly who you are dealing with.