Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Yellow Pages Invoice Scam
Source: Florida Attorney General's Office


Small businesses all over the country are receiving solicitations that appear to be invoices from the local Yellow Page Directory. The invoices are usually being sent by out-of-state companies that publish a directory with a limited number of businesses and limited availability. Many directories do not get published. Before you pay an invoice for a Yellow Page Directory advertisement, familiarize yourself with the following:

Why are the invoices confusing?
Most invoices contain the popular “walking fingers” logo and the name “Yellow Pages.” They will often include the consumer’s phone number, an account representative’s name, and a request to fix any incorrect information. This is a deceptive technique used to trick the consumer into thinking there is an established relationship. “THIS IS NOT A BILL” may appear on the invoice, but returning it may commit the consumer to a future bill. Read the invoice carefully, including the terms and conditions.

Please note courts have ruled that any business can use the logo and the “Yellow Pages” term.

Is it a Solicitation or an Invoice?
If it is a solicitation, the consumer has no obligations. The United States Postal Department requires the following disclaimer to be on all solicitations, so consumers should look for it on the "invoice:"

THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.

To avoid scams, obtain the following information about the company before responding:
  • Who will be receiving copies of the directory?
  • Are the directories free? If not, how much do they cost?
  • Where will the directory be distributed?
  • Call the local Yellow Pages to learn if they are associated with the company sending the invoice
Remember: Directories given exclusively to consumers who purchase advertisements, and statewide directories may be of little or no use.

Research the Company.
Contact your local Better Business Bureau or government agencies like the County Consumer Affairs Bureau, the Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether any complaints have been filed, or lawsuits are pending. For out of state companies, contact the appropriate agencies and authorities in the state where the company is based.