Serving Memphis, Cordova, Germantown & Collierville TN
We noticed something recently when the new Yellow Pages came to our door — hundreds of phony pest control companies with fake numbers listed in between real businesses.
We recently worked with local Memphis media and the Better Business Bureau to expose this fraud. Below is an article from the BBB which includes Scott Burnett of AAA Termite.
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Over 100 Fraudulent Pest Control Companies Pop Up in 2011 Yellow Pages
* Unlicensed and unchartered companies poised to burn consumers
* A local phone number doesn’t always mean you’re dealing with a local operator
* Names of legitimate pest control companies may have been misappropriated by the scammers
March 2, 2011 – The Better Business Bureau, The Greater Memphis Area Pest Control Association and the TN Department of Agriculture are warning consumers to be wary of untrustworthy pest control companies operating in the Mid-South. Some “local” pest control companies listed in the Yellow Pages are actually not physically located in the area, but are simply distant call centers that farm the jobs out to unlicensed and unprofessional operators who may end up doing more harm than good. The names may even be the same as or similar to some legitimate Memphis area companies who have been operating ethically for many years.
Business identity theft (stealing a business’s name and using it as one’s own) and creating similar sounding names are two tactics of scammers to make their businesses seem more legitimate. It creates confusion in the mind of the consumer who may have heard the legitimate company’s name in the past.
According to Scott Burnett, Greater Memphis Area Pest Control Association (GMAPCA) President, a consumer who searches for a pest control company in a yellow pages directory or online may not end up with the local business they think they are contacting.
“The local yellow pages directories list over 200 pest control companies in the Mid South area. Half of those are not properly licensed or chartered to operate in Tennessee. And if you search online, you may end up with even more names,” Burnett told the BBB. “Just because a company has a local phone number and a local address in the yellow pages doesn’t mean it is a local, licensed pest control company,” added Burnett.
According to Burnett, if you look up Damn Good Bed Bug Removal Service, you’ll see that they have a local number and a local address. Unfortunately, that phone number rings into a phone bank in an undisclosed location and the address listed is actually home to a gas station.
Currently the TN Department of Agriculture requires all pest control companies to be licensed and chartered in order to do business in Tennessee. Jerry Seabolt, Structural Supervisor with the TN Department of Agriculture, told the BBB that all pest control companies are required to maintain a surety bond and liability insurance as well as utilizing certified applicators and providing that information to the TN Dept. of Agriculture. In addition each company must have a licensee who is responsible for the supervision the certified applicators.
“A consumer can and should verify that a company has the aforementioned bond and insurance before they allow a company to make application. The information can be found at tn.gov/agriculture or by calling 615-837-5148,” Seabolt said.
The Greater Memphis Area Pest Control Association has a website, www.memphispest.com, listing all its members, who are not only licensed but also attend regular education and training meetings in order to provide consumers with the most effective and up to date treatments and options. Burnett said the GMAPCA has retained counsel to try and get these fraudulent numbers disconnected.
The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South offers the following tips for hiring a reputable pest or termite control company:
* Check out the company’s record with the BBB
* Contact the TN Department of Agriculture to insure the company is licensed and chartered
* Visit www.memphispest.com for a list of licensed, bonded and chartered companies who are members of the National Pest Management Association, TN Pest Control Association and the Greater Memphis Area Pest Control Association.