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Scam alert: online listing renewals

November 17, 2010

A business identified as National Yellow Pages Online uses misleading and confusing statements to obtain agreements from businesses to pay almost $390 each for renewal of online business listings, the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois charged in an Aug. 27 news release.

Complaints to the BBB also allege that the company implies inaccurately it is associated with the Yellow Pages telephone directory. 

Steve Bernas, president and chief executive of the BBB-Chicago, said complaints have come from 91 businesses in 30 states, including several Chicago area businesses. The complaints charge that National Yellow Pages Online representatives contact business offices and ask the individuals who answer the phone to verify the company’s name and address in order to "renew" a previously established online advertisement.

The complainants subsequently received invoices for online business listings with National Yellow Pages Online.

Bernas said the company’s renewal statements appear to be false because many of the complainants never had any business dealings with National Yellow Pages Online.

Bernas urged business owners to remind all their employees who could respond to a call regarding this situation to make sure that they understand the wishes of the business owner concerning renewal of any online listing. 

The BBB-Chicago president noted that when businesses request the unauthorized charges be cancelled, the complainants either are unable to reach any of the company’s representatives, or messages are allegedly not returned. 

If a business does reach the company’s personnel, complainants say they are met with inferior customer service and allege to be sworn at or bullied by company representatives.