How Facts Can Set You Free from Telemarketing Scams

Aug 26, 2012

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At first, the phone call seemed so innocent. I was filling in for my husband’s receptionist at his small business so she could take some time off. I answered a call from a man who said he was with the local Yellow Pages directory and simply wanted to confirm our business’ address and phone number in the free public listing before the next directory was published. It sure sounded reasonable to me, especially after all those years I’d spent in magazine publishing, both as a writer and editor who dutifully checked facts before upcoming issues were shipped off to the printer.

Little did I know that the phone conversation was being recorded for the purposes of being digitally altered or dubbed to appear as if I had just purchased a $599 listing in an online directory. But little did the caller know that nothing delights me more than online sleuthing, which would soon blow the cover off a scam that had bilked countless other small business owners out of their hard-earned cash.

Once the fraudulent invoices began arriving, I could now do some fact-diving on the Web. The URL for the online directory listed on the invoice? Once I typed it in my browser, I discovered the online directory doesn’t even exist. And the company’s address and suite number that looks so official? Google Maps revealed the address is actually a P.O. box on a remote country road strewn with grassy fields and weathered tumbledown barns in upstate New York near the Canadian border. A little more digging, and I stumbled upon countless complaints by outraged consumers at websites such as ComplaintWire (www.complaintwire.org), PeopleClaim (www.peopleclaim.com) and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), which gives the company an “F” rating.

The Internet also became my ally in pointing me to the federal agencies (the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Postal Service), two state attorneys general and the Better Business Bureau, which all acted on my behalf to finally put an end to the fraudulent company’s threatening bills and harassing phone calls.

See why I love learning about all the cool research tools available on the Internet? I invite you to stay tuned to my new blog, “L2 Surf,” as I share even more tricks up my sleeve, including an online time machine that allows you to turn back the hands of time. (At least on the Internet. It does absolutely nothing for crow's feet.)  I'm looking forward to hearing your own favorite tips and tricks!

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On this blog, nationally published writer Lori Baker reveals tips on how to create compelling Web content that grabs readers' attention, establishes brand loyalty and keeps your customers coming back for more.

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