BBB warns businesses about phony invoices

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- It looks like an authentic invoice, thanking you for your business with telecom maintenance agreement listed in the description.

It also indicates the receiver owes a balance of $425.

But Felicia Thompson with the Better Business Bureau says the invoice is phony, and they're showing up in mailboxes of businesses nationwide, including Arizona.

“Nationally we've received 587 complaints about this company,” she said. “Here in Arizona in 2012, so far, we've received 20 complaints from local business owners.”

The letterhead on the bills shows it comes from a company called UST, otherwise known as US Telecom.

It's a California-based company that's receiving a lot of attention over their tactics.

From Los Angeles to Louisiana, BBB’s have issued warnings about the company, which has earned itself an F-rating.

In February, the Attorney General of North Dakota filed a cease and desist order against US Telecom saying it "engaged in the deceptive practice of mailing what could reasonably be interpreted as a bill or invoice to solicit payment of money for goods or services not yet performed or ordered."

That cease and desist order may be the reason US Telecom’s website is no longer up.

“It’s really misleading because if you look at the document it definitely looks like an invoice. Nowhere that I've seen does it say that it’s a solicitation which the US Postal Office does require,” Thompson said.

3 On Your Side contacted US Telecom but our calls were not returned.

The BBB, meantime, is recommending businesses be on alert and review any document that looks like a bill before you pay it.

“Train your staff that pays the bills making sure they're aware that unfortunately this happens and you have to be very vigilant and protect the business and its finances,” Thompson said.

The BBB is advising anyone who receives what looks like a bill from US Telecom to file a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.