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Yellow Pages scam working its way through B.C.

Many members have received what appears to be invoices for ad space in the familiar, locally distributed, Yellow Pages directories.

We want to alert you that these invoices are actually solicitations for listings in alternative business directories that differ from the well-known Yellow Pages. In fact, the alternative directories may not be widely distributed, can be of little or no value to advertisers, or may never be published at all.

The solicitation from an alternative business directory may look like a legitimate invoice. It may feature the name "yellow pages" or include the familiar "walking fingers" logo and falsely state that the publisher is affiliated with the local telephone company or another bona fide Yellow Pages publisher.

Because the name "yellow pages" and the "walking fingers" logo are not protected by any federal trademark registration, they can be used by anyone.  This particular scam features an inverted two fingered walking fingers.

The company has been known to operate under following names according to the Better Business Bureau:

YellowPage-BritishColumbia.com
YellowPages-NewBrunswick.com
Yellowpages-Quebec
YellowPage-Manitoba.com
YellowPage-Alberta.com
Yellow Page Marketing B.V
Yellow Publishing Ltd.

Potential advertisers are often misled by the name or logo to think that the outfit using them is affiliated with the publisher that distributes local telephone books and Yellow Pages directories. However, there is no connection between publishers of alternative directories and those of the well-known Yellow Pages.  

Language used on the ad solicitations, such as "prompt payment is necessary to guarantee ad placement" or "directory listing renewal invoice" only adds to the confusion.

There will always be schemers who send disguised solicitations, but the law states that it is illegal to mail a bill, invoice or statement of account due that is really a solicitation, unless it boldly bears specific disclaimers. It should clearly state, in large type that "this is not a bill."

Members have reported being sent bills for thousands of dollars and letters threatening collections upon non-payment. CFIB has had first-hand experience as we have been a target as well. We want to help you protect your business.

What to do if you think you have been defrauded?