New Scam Targets Doctor’s Offices, Nonprofits and Other Small Businesses

March 10, 2015

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are attempting to impersonate the Yellow Pages and collect payment from unsuspecting doctor’s offices, nonprofits and other small businesses.

The scammers, using fake company names that typically include the words “American” and “Yellow,” are sending unsolicited invoices bearing the well-known “walking fingers” logo and seeking payment of around $480 for a one-year directory listing. The invoices name someone from the targeted organization and show the listing as it purportedly would appear in a directory, suggesting that someone previously agreed to buy a listing. Those who have ignored the invoices have received subsequent statements bearing “Collections Warning” and eventually posing as notices from a third-party debt collectors (such as General Credit Protection Inc.).

If you own a small business, consider the following measures to help protect your organization:

  • Familiarize yourself and your employees with this and other scams targeting small businesses. Visit the FTC's website for additional information on this scam and others like it. 
  • Inspect invoices carefully. Make sure that whoever is responsible for paying invoices, confirms their validity before paying, especially if the charge seems unfamiliar. As an added precaution, consider designating one point person as the purchaser for commonly purchased goods and services (office supplies, directory listings, subscriptions, etc.). This may help to identify fraudulent invoices. 
  • If you suspect fraud, research the company online. Look to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for a report on the organization as well as consumer blogs for reviews.
  • File a complaint. If you’ve received a fraudulent bill, file a complaint with the FTCthe BBB and /or your state Attorney General. If the scheme involved the U.S. mail, you can also submit a Mail Fraud Complaint to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service
If you issued payment on a fraudulent invoice, notify a consumer protection office in your state as well as the federal equivalent such as www.consumeraction.gov. While getting any money back may be difficult, you may have options to consider. 

computer-icon-contact-us.pngFor further assitance, PURE members may contact a PURE Member Advocate® at memberadvocate@pureinsurance.com or 888.813.7873 (PURE).