Let your fingers do the shushing

We’ve been getting more spam phone calls than usual the last couple of days, to the point where cursing out the recorded messages is actually getting a little boring. So it was almost a relief to pick up today and hear, “Hello, this is the Yellow Pages calling to update your free listing.” To me, Yellow Pages = White Pages, and we did indeed move last year, so this sounded quite normal and permissible. The caller went on. “We show the name of the business as Kelson Vibber, at [right number, wrong city and zip]. Is that correct, ma’am?”

Even though she pronounced “Vibber” correctly, I immediately had warning bells. Business? Since when did we become a business? And where did they get the address? It’s not like we use it for selling anything except eBay items, and we use the right address for that. “It’s…not…[wrong city],” I said, trying to decide what to do. I don’t recall whether she asked what it was, but I know what I said next. “I can’t give you the corrected information. The person who can isn’t in right now.”

“Well, when will that be possible, because we need it by 5 pm today.”

I didn’t think of it then, but there was a good reason my hackles went even further up at that: classic phish/scam technique of creating artificial pressure to give out data. Why the hell would a legit business wait until the last minute to try to get this info? “He won’t be available before then.”

“Well, I’ll try to call back, but you might not get your listing.”

Seeing as I couldn’t find a listing for us in any likely category of either the AT&T Yellow Pages or their local “companion” directory, and we’re not even in the online white pages under any address, this doesn’t seem like a very substantial threat. Listing us with an incorrect address isn’t going to make much difference to anyone. Not to mention the part where, hello, we’re not a business.

The good: the caller didn’t announce that the call might be recorded, and in any case I don’t recall answering “yes” to anything. Also, if they call back, I’m going to ask what we’re supposedly listed under, just to see if they say “auto insurance” or something bogus like that. The bad: actual businesses might fall for a scam worded like this. And if it’s a scam, who’s to say they weren’t recording the call anyway? I’m very glad I didn’t actually say any of the real address. The ugly: “Yellow Pages” and the walking-finger logo have apparently never been copyrighted, so there’s no way to hang scammers using that tactic. And people have reported being scammed by the Online Yellow Pages and receiving bogus bills for services they never asked for, subsequent to calls very much like this.

Moral of the story: beware of anonymous callers who can pronounce “Vibber.” (OTOH, if someone reading this is from the Yellow Pages and can verify that this is indeed your general and customary business practice, by all means let us know. And then point someone in management here, so they can see that their customers think their practices suck.)

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