Last October 2017, a news blast was posted over the Internet about how a woman from Miami used a local directory to find a repairman. The repairman came to her house with equipment in hand to fix her washing machine. After an hour, he charged her $420 and left. The woman tried to use her washing machine but it wasn’t even loading water so she tried to call back the repairman only to find that he wouldn’t answer the phone. She then decided to call another number for the repair shop that was listed on another local business directory and discovered she had been scammed. Unfortunately, by that time, the check had been cashed.
According to the Better Business Bureau, this new kind of scam is happening more often in the past two years. Other similar scams involve pet adoption agencies, jobs, apartment rentals, and other consumer services that require victims to present proof of identity, address, and other personal details aside from a “security deposit” or some form of non-cash payment like iTune cards. There are also the kind of scammers that target small business owners by sending in an email or calling to inform them that their subscription is about to expire, that you should upgrade your plan, verify your contact/payment details, or pay for additional features. Usually, scammers of this sort use robocallers to make the calls. Recent surveys show that around 2.4 billion robocalls are made every month and are made by overseas scammers. The majority of these calls are illegal and fraudulent.
How to Legitimately Find US Local Business
Whether you are a local resident or planning to visit a new town or city and need to find businesses or services, there are legitimate ways to find local business that will not put you at risk of scamming.
Once you find a business you’re interested in patronizing, check its online profile – website or social media account. You want to focus on contact details: do they connect you to the office? Are the details verifiable? Keep in mind there are fake numbers, fake area codes, and fake addresses. Does the online site have broken links? These are links that when you click on them, you either get an error message or it takes you to a strange site that is not related to the business. Look for other red flags such as wrong grammar, misspelled words, or stolen images. Try clicking on icons like BBB, PayPay, Visa, or official-sounding accrediting agencies. If the icons do not lead you to the official website of that company, it’s a red flag.
Finally, check the business website registration data and business feedback and reviews. A business that claims to be operating for years yet just created its website and has an expiring date that is fast approaching is a red flag.
Instead of browsing through pages of a search engine, use a reliable local source like local business listings. Not all small to medium businesses have a huge budget to finance a website and the lack of an online presence is significant, but if legitimate SMBs will do some amount of marketing on the local level, it will increase their odds of being successful.
Never List Your Business Without Approving Hard Copy
Convenient though it may be, some business owners opt to call in their business listings. Telesales is very risky because you never get to see the final copy before it is published. And if the phone call was not recorded by you, you have no proof that you didn’t or did approve of the copy since it was a verbal negotiation.
In addition, reputable local business directories will insist that you sign off on the written agreement before payment and posting. This protects both parties and sufficient time should be spent reading the fine print.
Never Trust Official Looking Document Inquiries Until Verified
One in every 10 American adults are scammed according to a survey of online activities in 2016. For phone scams, an average of $430 were lost by the victims while official-looking document scams were able to dupe consumers out of thousands of dollars through fake scholarships, holiday trips, charities and fund-raising events, trademark applications, inheritance fees, tax demands, and tech support, among others.
Local business directories will not ask for personal and private business details without submitting information that you can verify personally. They will not hide behind marketing hype and flashy promises but show you facts, data, and research. On your own, you should be able to verify the data you are given, check online for the directory’s authenticity, and do simple things such as get the names of the people behind the website – and some basic information about their background.
Local business directories need to build trust and loyalty and the best way for them to do this is to be sincere, upfront, and transparent. Anyone who pretends but fails to give real information has a hidden agenda.
In summary, if you want to find US local business, look up finduslocal.com – an up-and-coming online powerhouse that you can rely on completely.