All about the “confirm your Telkom directory listing" scam - Consumerwatch's Wendy Knowler shares

All about the “confirm your Telkom directory listing" scam - Consumerwatch's Wendy Knowler shares

Have you unfortunately been a victim of this. Here are new developments. 


Thousands of small business owners across the country - from medical practices and service stations to guest houses, couriers and beauty salons - have fallen victim to the ““just sign the form to confirm your Telkom directory listing” scam in the past six years or so.

It’s not clear whether there’s one kingpin behind all the different names the scammers use, or a syndicate or just a bunch of copycats, but they all appear to be Durban based, and it’s safe to say that many businesses have given in to the intense pressure put on them to pay hefty sums for a non-existent subscription to some business directory.

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I first exposed this scam on Consumerwatch back in 2015.

Back then a Durban-based company calling itself Directories Services 2  was phoning businesses - listed in bold in the Telkom directory, and paying Trudon a little extra for that every month -  and misleading them into believing that they were affiliated to the official white and yellow pages, asking them to submit their updated information and then sending them a bill for R7200.

Those carrying out the scam are asking for R10 000 now.

For what? A 12-month subscription to that online business listing directory. 

How so? 

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Well, having told their potential victims that they were going to send them a form in order for them to confirm or update their (official) business listing, as a FREE service, the form they get includes the word free here and there, but the tiny, barely legible print on the form commits them to paying for that subscription. Upfront!

Then comes the payment demand, and that’s when they realise they’ve been tricked into agreeing to something they don’t want or need, or even know how to access.

Those who don’t pay get “handed over” to a collections agency - whose employees badger them mercilessly, issuing all sorts of dire threats, including “the sheriff is coming to attach your assets” .

The Council for Debt Collectors has found several of the debt collectors guilty of illegal conduct, and fined them and or removed their registrations. The debt collectors are clearly operated by the same crowd who run the directory listing scam, and several whistleblowers have confirmed that to me over the years.

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But still the scam goes on and new people fall for it daily.

Last week, the director and four employers of a registered debt collecting firm were each been fined an effective R110 000 by the Council for Debt Collectors for a “myriad” of “extremely serious” contraventions.

Presiding officer LJL Gouws found Albert Laflair, director of Umhlanga-based Laflar Collections, along with four of his staff members, guilty of excessively harassing and threatening to sue almost 100 business owners if they didn’t pay up.

All had fallen for the “confirm your Telkom directory listing” scam. 

The Council for Debt Collectors’ hearing ran for two months, with 86 witnesses, mostly small business owners giving evidence on 323 charges.

Investigators said that Laflar Collections either knew or had to have known that the signatures on the forms were obtained fraudulently “and that by continuing with attempts to collect on non-existing debt…they were complicit in a fraudulent scam/operation”.

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Gouws stopped short of making a judgment on the claim that Lalfar Collections and the company which perpetrated the scam were one and the same, due to a lack of conclusive evidence.

Here’s the bit that those currently being harrassed to pay up REALLY NEED TO KNOW:

Despite repeated threats of judgements, executions, the removal of property by a sheriff of the court and “blacklisting” - all of them in writing - not a single business owner who testified had received a summons to appear in court in respect of amounts allegedly owed.

The Laflar Collections’ director and employees have been found guilty of threatening legal action, including attaching the property of business owners, and “blacklisting” them, but not following through, claiming legal fees to which they were not entitled, excessive harassment, demanding inflated amounts and a further long list of unprofessional conduct.

None of the respondents attended the hearing.

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Several of the witnesses said they had laid criminal charges with the SAPS.
Each of the Laflar Collections respondents were fined a total of R155 000, of which a total of R45 000 was suspended for various periods on condition that they are not found guilty of “similar misconduct”.

Patsy, who owns a hotel in Mount Edgecombe, contacted me yesterday to say that she’d just received an “ITC SUmmons”.

“As per your advice to me I have ignored their calls and have blocked their number,” she said. "Is this still the correct way going forward?”

Yes, it most certainly is.

“Provincial Directories” had tricked her into signing a “contract” in 2016.. she eventually agreed to pay the amount they were demanding from her including costs in early 2018, on condition that the contract was cancelled. She sold the business at the end of that year, and now, three and half years later,  “they are charging me with summons”, she said. 

In a letter to her dated September 24, they claimed she owed them R15 000 and added: “NOTE: You are now listed with ITC SUMMONS."
What rubbish!

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ITC Summons is a made up name for their “debt collectors”; a made-up name meant to sound like a bona fide credit bureau.

The Council for Debt Collectors is investigating a case against them, too.

So far they’ve conducted disciplinary hearings against:

  • NCR Legal Collections (found guilty and fined-no longer registered)
  • Debt Review Administrators (found guilty and fined-no longer registered)
  • Credit Bureau Listings (found guilty and fined-no longer registered)

If you’re been caught and are currently being harassed, email the Council for Debt Collectors and ask for their complaint form: [email protected]

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If you’re being harassed to pay up, don’t. JUST DISENGAGE!

And as always, no matter how busy you are, never, NEVER sign a document without reading the small print. 
The tinier the print, the more important it is that you read it. 

Ignore what a salesperson is telling you and focus instead on that teeny tiny print.

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

Listen to more podcasts from Wendy Knowler in the Consumerwatch channel below: 


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