FORT MYERS, Fla. - The name "Yellow Pages" and the iconic walking fingers logo are not copyright or trademark protected.
Which means scam artists can easily use the Yellow Pages name and logo in an effort to scam small business owners.
"They would call or mail a solicitation under the guise that it was an invoice for the Yellow Pages advertisement," said U.S. Postal Inspector Christopher Cizin.
When those ad solicitations arrive, small business owners oftentimes fill out the paperwork assuming they're updating their current Yellow Pages listing.
"Then, shortly after that they would receive an invoice for $499.00, $599.00 or 1299.00 for an online listing in the Yellow Pages," Cizin said.
If companies don't pay that invoice, they would receive threatening letters and phone calls. The crooks would tell the victims they were going to report them to collection agencies and have lawyers call them.
But it was usually just a bullying tactic.
"In most cases the attorney wasn't a real attorney. The collection agency-- it was just another person who worked at that company," Cizin said.
Postal inspectors say small business owners should always request additional information from a solicitor. Ask where and how often the directory will be distributed. Also, check with your local Yellow Pages publisher to see if they are affiliated with the solicitor.