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Business Directory Addition

How the scam works: 

While there are some legitimate business directories, the majority of these are not truly open about their real intended purpose, which is simply to make money. While this isn’t illegal, it is unethical as they mislead and misrepresent their intent. 

A representative of the publishing company will contact a business, often associating themselves with a charitable foundation or cause of some sort.

They will offer to advertise your business – small businesses or mom and pop shops seem to be an especially favored target – for a small fee. Once the ad is published, if at all, the business will receive a bill for services, sometimes upwards of $1000, and if the business owner refuses to pay they will threaten legal action.

There is also a variation of this scam in which the business receives an invoice for being listed in a directory in which they were never listing, or the publisher lists the business without prior approval and sends a bill. 

How to avoid: 

There are several steps business owners can take to avoid being taken in by this scam. Assign one person as the designee to make all decisions regarding advertising and make them aware of this common scam. Never agree to anything in a phone call; request documentation spelling out the details of the advertising contract.

Also find out how they got your contact information and be sure to request theirs. Also ask to see a sample of the directory in which they want to list you. 

If the publisher does not agree to any or all of these terms, it is likely they are not a legitimate business directory. If you receive a bill for advertising that you did not purchase, do not be intimidated by threats of legal action; remember, it will cost the “publisher” more money to sue you than the bill is worth.

Also, a bogus company will not likely want to be exposed in a courtroom. Be sure to report the company to your state’s Attorney General as well as the Better Business Bureau. 

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