Small Businesses Bilked for Millions in Yellow Pages Scam

These days, many small business owners might like to advertise their companies in a number of different avenues, and one that many might turn to even now. However, with this willingness to pay for advertising in that way comes the potential to be ripped off by criminals looking to make a quick buck from independent firms that might be unaware of their designs.

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that three separate operations being run out of Montreal ripped off small business owners across the U.S. for millions of dollars total, because they claimed owners failed to pay for bogus Yellow Pages ads, which those companies never purchased, and certainly did not actually appear in any such publications, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. The scam was often simple, but extremely effective.

Typically, the businesses (and other organizations, including nonprofits and churches) would receive a phone call asking them to confirm their name, address and telephone number, and soon thereafter, harassing calls would begin pouring in demanding payment for as much as $1,800. Recordings of those initial “confirmation calls” were then doctored to make it sound like a purchase had been made, but forgotten.

What was the damage?
Altogether, these companies ripped off thousands of organizations across the country for $4.9 million or more, and this is just the latest such scam to hit the U.S. in the last several years, the report said. For this reason, it’s very important for companies to make sure they’re taking a careful accounting of all their expenses and remain wary of any demands for money they don’t remember spending, particularly when unsolicited phone calls come in.

Owners might also want to do more to ensure that their firms are likewise shielded from the harmful effects of hacking attacks as well, and that includes investing in security and training measures that will better protect them overall. However, that should also involve finding affordable small business insurance coverage that will help them to more effectively deal with the costs of remediating fallout from a data breach. This kind of tech insurance could potentially help them save thousands of dollars or more if they’re hit with such an attack, and therefore will likely serve to keep their companies afloat in what could otherwise end up being particularly difficult times.