How business directories fax scams may cost your bottom line

Have you ever been faxed an invoice for a business directory service you never ordered?  Perhaps the scenario went something like this:

The suspecting business fax

You receive a fax from a company stating that someone from your office previously made an authorized purchase for a listing in their business directory.  All that is required of you is to return the fax and verify details, such as your company's name, address, email, telephone and alternate fax number.  This supposed verification process leads you to believe that your business is already placed in their business directory. 

Shortly thereafter, you receive an invoice for your order, anywhere from $400 to $800 via fax or by mail.  If you don't respond, it may take a few days or a week for someone from an Accounts Receivable department to call requesting payment for your business listing.  If you try to dispute their claim and refuse to pay the invoice, you may be harassed and even threatened with legal action.  Perhaps the caller threatens to forward the unpaid invoice to a debt collection agency, a factor that can severely damage your credit score. 

If this sounds all too familiar, it's very likely that you're a victim of the fax business directory scam.     

Business listings can be free...but beware of the nuances

There is actually a free, legitimate business directory on the internet known as The National Small Business Network Resource Directory:  This site was established years ago with the goal of giving both small and large businesses an opportunity to find resources in the way of vendors and suppliers.  Listing a business is absolutely free.  All you're required to do is fill out a simple online form.  

Over the years, many fraudulent telemarketing agencies have used names and structures similar to that of The Small Business Network Resource Directory to promote services that consist of scams or those that have little or questionable value.  Some will even masquerade themselves as associates of a well known businesses and attempt to sell memberships for greater profits.

While it is possible for an ex-employee to authorize such as a service, in most instances, this is simply another case of a fax directory scam.  According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, churches, companies and other small organizations lose millions of dollars per year to fraudulent firms that mislead them into paying for business directory listings they didn't order or want to begin with. 

Red flags of fax directory scams  

Below you will find a list of bogus companies that are known for preying on small businesses:

Business Data Center - Plattsburgh, NY

Commutel Marketing - Montreal, QC/Victoria, BC 

Horizon Data Inc. - Champlain, NY

Target Publications - Ansonia, CT/Champlain, NY 

Tradeshow Data Center - Plasttsburg, NJ

Remember this: you are NOT responsible for paying for any services that you did not order or request.  You should also know that your credit rating can not be negatively effected because you neglect to pay for a business directory listing that was made under false pretences.  After realizing that the invoice is worth disputing, you should stand your ground and build your case regardless of how much pressure the scam artist applies. 

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