Contact 6: Beware of phony "Yellow Pages" solicitations

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 says small business owners should be on the lookout for companies posing as the "Yellow Pages." Contact 6 says not knowing who you're dealing with can cost you big money.

The name "Yellow Pages" and the iconic "walking fingers" logo are not copyright or trademark protected. That means scam artists can easily use the Yellow Pages name and logo in an effort to scam 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 solicitations arrive, small business owners oftentimes fill out the paperwork assuming they are updating their current Yellow Pages listing.

"Then, shortly after that they would receive an invoice for $499.00,  $599.00 or  $1299.00 for an online listing in the Yellow Pages," Cizin said.

Companies that didn't pay that invoice would receive threatening letters and phone calls saying they would be reported to collection agencies and lawyers.

However, this was just a bullying tactic.

"In most cases the attorney wasn`t a real attorney. The collection agency-- it was just another person who worked at that company," 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 the local Yellow Pages publisher to see whether 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 who exactly you're dealing with.