Is your business listed in the white pages? Beware of crooks pretending to be Telkom

There is a scam that targets small business owners with ads in Telkom’s white or yellow pages, warns Wendy Knowler.

Small businesses with paid listings in one of Telkom’s regional telephone directories are vulnerable to a new scam, warns consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Also read: I Canceled My Telkom Line, But I’m Still Charged – Angry Customers Recount

Companies with bold listings could be a target for a company running a very smart scam claiming to be Telkom’s directory.

They are fooling business people across the country, especially in the last six months.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Knowler says she has received several complaints from jewelers, architects, speech therapists, guest house owners and videographers who have all been victims.

A lot of small businesses pay because, even though they know they’ve been misled or scammed, they can’t stand the harassment.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Scammers find a daring list in a phone book and call the company for their official email address.

The crooks then send an email that looks like this:

“Hope you are doing well. Please make sure the above attachment is signed and returned to the email address provided as soon as possible. Please note this is your phone book.”

The email address is [email protected] which makes it legit and adds to the impression that this is just a confirmation of the details of the company’s existing listing.

The email also contains the name of the local directory at the top, for example Cape Peninsula Telephone Directory, 2018.

Read the fine print

In large print, the email attachment reads: Free Search Engine Optimization.

But the fine print says otherwise: “This is a 12 month ad, priced at R7176 (written in words so the eye won’t notice) excluding VAT. You can cancel within 7 days of signing, but you have to pay half of R3588.

Most victims only find out that they have been scammed after seven days, once payment is demanded from the fraudster’s debt collection service.

What the law says?

Knowler says all parties have five business days to cancel a direct marketing agreement without incurring a penalty, according to the law.

Last year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASASA) ruled that the company, then called Directories Services 2, had used a deceptive approach. The Durban-based company appears to have changed its name to Telecom Directory.

According to Knowler, one of the debt collection agencies tasked with harassing victimized businesses – NCR Legal Debt Collections – is owned by the same person who owns the exploitation of impostor lists. His name is Ashwin Dwarika.

The Council of Debt Collectors confirmed that NCR Legal Collections registered with the Council last May.

The council urged the victims to drop their formal complaint here.

Don’t pay. Some people get emails from debt collectors, others get scary letters and threats from lawyers.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Unless you get a real summons from a real court, ignore it.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Two victims shared their experiences of falling into the scam and Knowler shared his advice with the public.

Listen to the conversation during the Consumer Talk function:

Do you have a consumer case that you need help solving?

Email: [email protected], put Cape Talk in the subject line, follow up on the issue, eg cell phone contract dispute.


More from ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler


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