Scam using Yellow Pages targets small businesses

Posted at 2:28 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 17:28:17-04

It's a scam targeting small businesses, ripping some of them off of hundreds -- even thousands -- of dollars.

Carol Pilmer almost fell victim to it. She and her husband own R Dental Ceramics in Solana Beach.

She received what she thought was a form to update her Yellow Pages listing. She signed it and sent it back.

She was surprised by what happened next.

"They were demanding money for payment," Pilmer said.

She said she has never paid for a Yellow Pages listing in the past, but now, she faced an increasing bill.

At its peak, the invoice was more than $1,000.

A representative with the company called her, but she did not trust the voice on the other end of the line.

"The first thing out of their mouth was you don't have to pay the whole amount. We can settle this right now if you give me your credit card number," Pilmer said.

She turned to Team 10 for help.

Team 10 brought her concerns to the local Better Business Bureau office.

"The basic scam for getting invoices for services you haven't requested has been around for a very long time," said Rachel Newman, marketing director for the BBB.

The bill turned out to be instead, a solicitation for business -- and not from the official Yellow Pages. That is because the famous "walking fingers" logo isn't trademarked.

"It's certainly deception," Newman said.

She could not speak specifically to Pilmer's dilemma, but she suggested if one ever finds themselves in a similar situation, to file a complaint with the BBB and ask for proof of services from the company.

Team 10 relayed that message to Pilmer.

About a week later, she received a letter from the fake "Yellow Pages" company, canceling her service and showing she now had a "zero balance."

Newman cautions everyone to read the fine print and throw any solicitation away.

The notice Pilmer received had a P.O. Box listing in Georgia. Team 10 tried contacting the business, but never heard back.