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Lots of small businesses need to advertise locally. So, if someone told your business that it could advertise through well-known local firms or organizations, that might interest you. But unfortunately, sometimes the results are not as promised.

The FTC announced today that it reached a settlement with Production Media, a company that allegedly used deceptive tactics to get businesses to buy ads. Those ads were printed on folders that would supposedly be distributed by local realtors and used by local schools. The company’s telemarketers, says the FTC, made the offer attractive by making it sound like no two similar businesses would have ads in the same folder. Except, later, businesses found their ad alongside a competitor’s ad. If their folder got printed at all. And, when businesses tried to get a refund, many couldn’t.

All small businesses need to get the most out of every dollar they spend. So if your business gets a call selling ads like these, keep these tips in mind:

  • Before doing business with an unknown company, see what others say. Search the company’s name online with the term “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Don’t be rushed into making a decision on the spot. Dishonest companies want you to act quickly, before you have time to think or ask a colleague or partner what they think.
  • Ask questions and get details in writing. If the salesperson promises you something that’s important to you, ask for specific details in writing.
  • Don’t give out payment information until you’ve reviewed the paperwork. And be sure that paperwork matches what you heard in the phone call.

Get more tips to protect your small business at and share them with your colleagues.

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