For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: December 14, 2006
Wasden Settles Another Lawsuit Against Misleading Yellow Pages Business
(Boise) – Idahoans will receive refunds from a settlement with an Arizona-based “yellow pages” business. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said that the settlement resolves allegations of deceptive billing practices that targeted Idaho businesses and organizations.
Idaho joined 33 other states in a settlement agreement with YP Corporation and its subsidiary, Telco Billing, Inc. Telco Billing did business under the name YP.com. YP Corp, YP.com and Telco Billing, Inc., have not admitted to any wrongdoing.
The states alleged that YP.com sent businesses and other organizations “live” activation checks in the mail. These checks were payable to the business or organization for a small amount, usually around $3.50. On the back of the checks, in fine print above the endorsement line, was language stating that, by depositing the check, the recipient agreed to purchase advertising from YP.com for its online yellow pages directory. The fine print also stated, that by depositing the check, the recipient authorized YP.com to bill the monthly fees in advance. The fees were charged to the business’s telephone bill or by debiting the amount from the bank account into which the recipient deposited the check or by other methods.
The mailing did not make clear to the more than 6,000 Idaho businesses that received it, that by endorsing and depositing the check, the business was agreeing to be billed for an online yellow pages directory service. Idaho businesses were billed between $19.95 and $39.95 per month.
“In some instances, the recipient remained unaware that it was being billed by YP.com for several months, if not years, after it deposited the activation check,” Attorney General Wasden said.
Idaho businesses or organizations that endorsed and deposited one of these checks and are currently being billed for the service will receive a letter and claim form from YP Corporation within the next two weeks. Businesses that wish to cancel the service and participate in the settlement must file a claim with YP Corporation to be eligible for reimbursement. Businesses that file may receive refunds of up to four months’ payments.
The Attorney General received $12,000 to distribute to Idaho businesses or organizations that are not current customers of YP.com. Former customers who do not receive a letter from YP.com by mid-January may receive a partial refund by filing a claim with the Attorney General’s Office.
“If your business or organization receives a letter from the company indicating it is a settlement or refund notice, I encourage you to read it carefully. If you wish to file a claim, the deadline is limited, and the claim must be filed with the company by February 28, 2007,” Attorney General Wasden noted. “Current customers should file directly with the company.”
Click here to download an Attorney General settlement claim form*. You may also request one by calling the Consumer Protection Unit at (208) 334–2424 or (800) 432–3545 toll–free from outside of the Boise calling area. The claim form for the company will be included in the letter received by current YP.com customers.
The deadline for filing all claims is February 28, 2007.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit settled a lawsuit earlier this year with Yellow Pages, Inc., a Nevada corporation that sent deceptive solicitations to Idaho consumers and businesses. Those solicitations also consisted of a small check that obligated consumers to purchasing advertising.
Yellow Pages is not a registered trademark, and the name has frequently been used to advance deceptive and misleading business schemes.
“Idaho businesses and organizations need to use caution when receiving checks, bills or solicitations for yellow pages advertising,” Attorney General Wasden said. “It is imperative that you read the very fine print and verify the authenticity of the company before you obligate your hard-earned dollars to one of these companies.”
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*Form is no longer available. Deadline for filing was February 28, 2007.