Business Directory Scams

Marni MacLeod

“Hello, my name is Mandy from bizdirectories.net. I’m calling to verify your business information.”

Sound familiar?

Next you receive an invoice for $300 – $800 for a business listing on bizdirectories.net. Sure enough, the directory exists and your firm’s information is listed. Your administrative staff then begin to receive high pressure phone calls regarding the unpaid invoice. The threats escalate as the caller claims they will be reporting your firm to collections agents or credit reporting agencies. If you or your staff challenge the legitimacy of the invoice, the caller claims that X (employee or former employee) authorized the listing and that they have a recording of this conversation.

Variations of this scam have existed for years and continue to multiply. Sadly, Canada is globally renowned for its home-grown scam operations. Less sophisticated businesses may simply pay the invoice to rid themselves of the matter while other operations may choose to try and ignore the matter entirely. The problem with ignoring the invoice is that the callers tend to terrorize your staff.

What do you do?

For starters, there are legitimate business directories. Not only do they offer a source for listing a specialty product/service or access to a target audience, but they have traditionally been helpful for search engine optimization. Some directories have very high rankings and can be used to direct traffic back to your own site. As search engines have tweaked their algorithms, we have seen the benefits of directory listings slowly decreasing. That being said, some continue to perform admirably. We regularly advise clients on which directories may be useful for their practice. Most legitimate directory listings are established by way of an online sign-up or formal registration process.

If you have not actively requested the directory listing or completed an online sign-up, you’re probably dealing with a scam.  While there are all kinds of clever ways to dismiss the scam, be sure that your staff are aware of the setup. The Competition Bureau offers resources for identifying fraudulent activity targeting businesses (the FACT Campaign).

As we deal with business directory scams regularly, we tend to follow the following steps:

  1. Relax.
  2. Do not pay the invoice.
  3. Just say “no thank you” to the caller and hang-up the phone. Arguing will not achieve anything.
  4. Consider filing a complaint with the Competition Bureau.
  5. Relax.

Or:

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