AG Cooper stops company that duped consumers with tricky marketing
Release date: 12/14/2006
YP Corp. agrees to stop using checks to market its online yellow pages, will pay consumers $2 million
Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today announced a $2 million, 34-state settlement with YP Corporation to settle claims that the company deceived consumers by automatically signing them up for its online yellow pages.
“This company used sneaky marketing techniques to get consumers to sign up for a service they didn’t want,” said Cooper. “Thanks to this agreement this company must change its ways and consumers have a chance to get some money back.”
YP Corporation, also doing business as YP.com and Telco Billing, Inc., signed up consumers for its online yellow page directory through checks mailed to businesses, churches and government agencies. These checks were made payable to the business or organization for a small amount, usually $3.50. If the consumer deposited the check, YP automatically signed them up for an on-line yellow pages service and billed the consumer $27.50 to$39.95 a month on their phone bill. In some cases, YP withdrew the monthly fee directly from consumers’ checking accounts.
Today’s agreement orders YP.com to stop sending checks to market its services. The company must pay $2 million to the states to be used for consumer refunds, including $58,000 that will go to North Carolina consumers. A total of 29 North Carolina consumers have complained to Cooper’s office about being billed by YP.com after they cashed one of the company’s marketing checks. YP.com must also send letters to all current customers giving them the opportunity to cancel the service and receive a refund for the past two months’ worth of charges.
The attorneys general’s investigation revealed that many consumers deposited the checks without knowing that they were agreeing to purchase an enhanced online yellow page listing from YP.com. Disclosures on the check were so small that many consumers didn’t notice them and didn’t realize that depositing the check authorized YP.com to bill them for the listing.
The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office will work to refund any consumer or business that submitted a complaint and hasn’t received a refund. If you would like to submit a complaint please contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-877-5-NOSCAM toll-free or visit www.ncdoj.gov for more information.
“Checks like these that seem to promise easy money often come with strings attached,” Cooper cautioned consumers. “Always read the fine print before you cash a check or sign up for something you get in the mail.”