30 January 2014

Small businesses are advised to be wary of fake faxes or emails pretending to be from “Yellow Pages”, seeking your business’ contact details.

The fake messages include an agreement, which seeks to sign you up to an online business directory service costing $99 per month for two-years. The directory is not associated with the Yellow Pages or Sensis.

Such scams are repeated year after year. When one fake directory website is shut down, they shift to another and start again.

SCAMwatch has issued a detailed warning, which includes the following:

The scammers are now operating a site registered in Austria, ‘www.yellow-page-australia.at’, after their previous site, ‘www.yellow-page-australia.com’, was shut down.

SCAMwatch continues to receive reports from small businesses about receiving a fax claiming to be from ‘Yellow Page Australia’ and ‘Open Business Directory Ltd’ that, on first glance, appears to be seeking confirmation of their business’ contact details. However, on closer inspection, the fax is in fact an agreement to sign up to an online business directory service charged at $99 per month for a minimum two-year period.

Businesses are tricked into thinking the fax is affiliated with Sensis’ Yellow Pages® directory by using this well-known Australian company’s name and ‘Walking Fingers’ logo. However, Sensis warns that ‘Yellow Page Australia’, ‘Online Business Directory’ and the website ‘www.yellow-page-australia.at’ are not connected with Sensis or Telstra.

Businesses should be aware that if they complete and return the fax, the scammers may start hassling them for payments, including threatening them with late payment fees. They may also switch to other delivery methods such as email, letter or phone to approach their targets. Don’t let these scammers intimidate you or your staff.

SCAMwatch urges small businesses to be alert and follow these three key rules:

  • If you receive a ‘Yellow Pages’ fax or email and want to confirm if it is authentic, call Sensis on 13 23 78
  • If you receive a threatening call, email or fax demanding payment, ignore it and report it
  • Spread the word – make sure your staff are alert to how this scam works and how to protect your business (see below).

How the scam works

  • Your business receives a fax or email out of the blue from an online business directory asking you to confirm your contact details. On closer inspection of the form’s small print, it specifies details of an agreement to sign up to their advertising services.
  • To make the offer appear legitimate, the fax or email claims to come from a well-known business, complete with their logo and branding. It may also include a link to a website that has a reputable-sounding domain name and all the hallmarks of a professional site.
  • If you sign and return the form, the scammer will claim that you have accepted their offer and are locked in to pay an expensive ongoing contract, such as $99 per month for a minimum two-year period. They may demand payment 12 months in advance.
  • If you refuse to pay, the scammers might try to intimidate you by threatening legal action or debt collection.

Protect yourself

  • Make sure the business you are dealing with is the real deal – if you receive a form or tax invoice out of the blue, verify who they are by contacting the company directly using contact details you sourced independently through a phone book or online search. Do not call a number on the fax or email you have received.
  • Don’t respond – ignore unexpected or suspicious approaches to your business, whether it be via fax, letter, email, at your store or over the phone. Bin it, delete it, shut the door or just hang up.
  • Protect your details – never give or clarify any information about your business unless you trust the other party. Also ensure you know what the information will be used for.
  • Make sure you run a ‘fraud-free’ business – effective management procedures can go a long way towards preventing scams. Have a clearly defined process for verifying and paying accounts and invoices, and try to avoid giving too many staff authorisation to make orders or pay invoices.
  • Don’t be intimidated – do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions involving payments or ongoing contracts. If you are unsure, always seek independent financial or legal advice.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.

More information

You can read the original post from SCAMwatch on its website.

Stay Smart Online also provides useful advice and tips for businesses online.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

Information provided by SCAMwatch.

ACCC logo

Feedback

Thank you to those subscribers who have provided feedback to our Alerts and Newsletters. We are very interested in your feedback and where possible take on board your suggestions or requests.

Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

CONTACT US

Facebook: www.facebook.com/staysmartonline
Email: staysmartonline [at] communications.gov.au
Web: www.staysmartonline.gov.au
You are receiving this message at the address [Email].
Update your profile preferences
If you no longer wish to receive this information, you can unsubscribe.

© 2013 Australian Government. All rights reserved

Connect with Stay Smart Online
  • Facebook.
  • youtube
  • RSS feed