Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? In actuality, it is every business' worst nightmare to have their company information stolen and misused by a dishonest, un-reputable source.
No business owner wants to look at an advertisement and exclaim 'Another business is using my company contact information!' This is exactly what happened to the owner of Wilsonville Lock Works, Inc. — after reviewing a recent Yellow Pages directory, Diane John found multiple companies falsely using their store-front address: 8269 SW Wilsonville Rd. Suite I, Wilsonville, OR 97070.
Your Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington is reminding consumers to be aware that deceitful companies often list in directories and advertise in yellow pages using other businesses' contact information without consent. "Deceptive companies steal information from other companies and use it as their own," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB. "This is the ultimate form of business plagiarism."
The worst part is that unsatisfied customers of fraudulent businesses storm into the wrong store-front to complain to an innocent business. This problem is not limited to locksmiths; businesses in every industry must face the threat of having their contact information stolen by impostor businesses. Your BBB offers the following advice:
Be wary if the business is not willing to provide information. Be suspicious of ads that only list the business name and phone number. When calling, ask for as much information as possible: the legal business name, a Web site (if applicable), and a local address. Don't be afraid to ask for references; reputable companies are usually eager to provide. If they refuse or give information that does not match the directory listing, look elsewhere.
Look for consistency. On your Internet search engine, like Google or Yahoo, be sure to research the business. Search the business name in quotes. Next, try searching the address in quotes to see if other businesses are claiming the same address. Look up both the business name and the address. Then, search to see if they have a Web site and check to verify that they are reporting the same address as listed in their directory ad.
Do not rely solely on the contact information listed in the directory. Not all businesses in directories and phone books are reputable. Always research the business' Web site, business' licensing, and BBB Reliability Report to verify that all contact information matches the directory listing.
Check for licensing. Try to verify that a company is registered with the name and address advertised. Businesses should register their address as part of their business license information. Start by checking with the Oregon Secretary of State and Oregon Department of Revenue and also consider checking for special licenses based on the type of business. Keep in mind that not all industries have the same licensing requirements and some businesses may not require a license.
Use your Better Business Bureau as a resource. Before you do business, call 503-212-3022 or visit www.bbb.org to search for a BBB Reliability Report on a company.
About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau accredited businesses. The BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org.