Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Thursday, December 18, 1997
Contact: Bob Brammer, Attorney General's Office, 515-281-6699, or John Skoglund or Linda Jensen, Postal Inspection Service, 515-253-9060

Warning: Iowa Businesses are Receiving "Yellow Page"
Solicitations that Look Like Invoices

Attorney General Tom Miller and Postal Inspectors urge businesses to study invoices before paying. The officials emphasize that the "Yellow Pages" name and the "walking fingers" symbol are not copyrighted or trade-marked.

DES MOINES-- Attorney General Tom Miller and the Des Moines office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service today warned Iowa businesses that solicitations that appear much like "Yellow Pages" invoices apparently are being received by businesses all over Iowa.

"We fear that many Iowa businesses may automatically pay $187, thinking it is for their standard Yellow Pages telephone book listing," Miller said. "The mailing is really a solicitation for an Internet electronic listing called the Yellow Quick Pages, but it could easily mislead some people," he said.

The solicitations are from the Yellow Pages Company, 16 Technology, Suite 134, Irvine, California. Scores of Iowa businesses apparently are receiving the mailing.

"Everyone needs to remember that the Yellow Pages name and the walking-fingers symbol are not copyrighted and may be used by anyone," Miller said. "We have seen phony invoice schemes for years based on that misunderstanding. People often think they are simply renewing their local yellow page telephone book ad if they don't look carefully."

Both Miller's office and U.S. Postal Inspectors in Des Moines have been receiving numerous copies lately of the Yellow Quick Page mailing out of California. Postal Inspectors John Skoglund and Linda Jensen in Des Moines urged businesses to take precautions to avoid questionable "Yellow Page" solicitations:

Remember that the "Yellow Page" name and walking-fingers symbol are not copyrighted or trade-marked. Remember that solicitations can be disguised to look like invoices.

  • Study the name used in the promotion. It may sound similar to your phone book listin g but be a completely different company.
  • Beware that some promoters will even include a copy of your current yellow page phone book listing, even though that's not what they are selling.
  • Don't place an ad in any kind of directory if you are not certain about the promoter.
  • If you think you've been misled by a mailing, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 515-253-9060 or the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926.
Skoglund and Jensen said they have forwarded copies of the "Yellow Quick Pages" solicitation to Postal Inspection Service officials in California for review. Postal regulations specify certain requirements that mailings prominently indicate that a mailing is "not an invoice" and is in reality a solicitation.

Miller said the warning is part of an ongoing effort by his office to help small businesses avoid becoming victims of scams or questionable promotions. Businesses may order a free brochure called "Small Business Alert: Consumer Frauds That Target Small Businesses and Professional Offices" by writing to the Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319, or by calling 515-281-5926.