Better Business by Robb Hicken: Beware of business directory sales pitches; many are bogus

Robb Hicken, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionApril 30, 2013 

Robb Hicken

Better Business Bureau, serving the Snake River Region, warns area businesses to watch for questionable bills from a company called AYPR Inc., with a mailing address in the Banner Bank in Boise.

AYPR Inc. claims to publish a business directory and attempts to charge businesses for being listed or featured in that directory. If you are a business professional, you have more than likely been offered a chance to appear in a vanity publication. You may be told your name and accomplishments will be displayed with other well-known dignitaries and distinguished leaders.

AYPR, with headquarters in Duluth, Minn., appears to have a drop box in Boise, nothing else.

BBB warns this company practices directory billing schemes, and far too often legitimate businesses fall for them, assuming the company has provided them a service of some kind.

In complaints filed with BBB, businesses are tricked into paying for services they weren't interested in or something for which they didn't know they would be charged.

In addition to Boise, there are addresses in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Directory schemes begin when companies are contacted by phone and asked a few vague questions "for verification purposes," or else they receive an innocuous fax that asks them to confirm basic company information and fax the form back to the sender.

Unwary employees often don't realize simply providing this information opens the door to future billings.

Most faxes also have language buried in the fine print that states by signing and faxing in the form, businesses agree to representation in the directories - which may or may not exist - at a cost of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.

These scammers also will sometimes pretend to verify or renew a company's "existing" directory listing. They then send as many urgent invoices as it takes to get paid, sometimes including a useless "directory," sometimes not.

They create confusion and count on an organization paying to avoid their hounding.

When companies refuse to pay, the scammers may use high-pressure tactics such as bullying or threatening collection or legal action. Sometimes, they offer "a better deal" with a phony discount.

If a business received a directory, they may allow it to return the directory (if it pays the shipping costs), but insist on being paid for the so-called listing.

These directories are usually worthless; they are rarely distributed or promoted as promised.

In any case, if a business pays for its "listing," it likely will receive additional invoices - either from the same scam artists or from others who have purchased their company's contact information.

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rhicken@boise.bbb.org,947-2115

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