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Scam Watch

August 31, 2008|David Colker

The pitch: Payment is due for your website address listing.

The scam: The Federal Trade Commission says that millions of dollars are paid annually by businesses, charities and individuals to scammers who send out bogus bills for website "listing" services. Sometimes these bills appear to be renewals of domain name registrations. In other cases, the bills are for listing a website in a business directory, even though the owner of the site never ordered or approved the listing.

The charges: In a federal court complaint filed this month, the agency alleged that the Toronto-based companies Internet Listing Service and Data Business Solutions had been sending bogus bills and fraudulent solicitations to U.S. companies. Reached at his office, defendant Ari Balabanian of Data Business Solutions said he was innocent of wrongdoing. The Chicago attorney for Internet Listing Service did not return a call seeking comment.

The advice: Mailings that look like bills for website or domain name services should be checked carefully to make sure they're not solicitations in disguise. Be especially wary of bills or pitches for listings in directories you've never heard of.

Info: The agency consumer alert on directory frauds is at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt024.shtm

-- David Colker

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