Beware the ESBI Phone Scam Artists

As a jewelry artist, you work hard to create and sell. So I'm making you aware of this scam so you don't get caught in it and waste your time and money on an outright fraud.

I regularly get calls at my office that go something like, "Hi, I'm calling to confirm your online business listing, this will just take a minute." I always say, "No. I don't have an online listing and remove me from your mailing list." Then I hang up.

A few weeks ago, my assistant answered the phone and, thinking she was innocently confirming something I'm already listed in, started to give out the address of my office. I interrupted her, and when she said they were calling to confirm on online listing, I told her it's a scam and to simply hang up.

She did.

At no time did anyone tell her they were going to sign my business up for $39.95 (plus tax) of unwanted scam services.

When my phone bill arrived yesterday, there was a charge from "ESBI" billing "on behalf of Net Page Now" for "Online Biz Listing."

I called the number listed and demanded an immediate refund.

The scam operator on the other end tried to hustle me. "Well, our third party verifier has your assistant's name ordering this."

"I'd love to hear that," I said, "because I was there and she hung up before she even finished giving the address."

Verizon promised to refund the charge even if ESBI doesn't (they said they would).

I also was able to put a block on the account for outside charges.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently published an alert about this scam. You can read it here:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/alerts/alt024.pdf


Follow the advice in the alert for how to spot and deal with the online business listings scam like Net Page Now/ESBI.

I contacted the FTC to file a complaint and will do so with the PA Consumer Protection Agency as well.

I was amazed that the phone company essentially colludes with the scam artists by not blocking third party billing unless you request it. It should be the other way around.

Protect yourself against the scammers!

To get a great newsletter of fraud and scam alerts, check out:

http://www.scambusters.org/

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