Pacific Bell Directory & AT&T, Assisting The Underground Economy
What is an underground economy? "Underground economy" is a term that refers to those individuals and businesses that deal in cash and/or use other schemes to conceal their activities and their true tax liability from government licensing, regulatory, and taxing agencies. Underground economy is also referred to as tax evasion, tax fraud, cash pay, tax gap, payments under-the-table, and off-the-books.
Pacific Bell Directory, a subsidiary of AT&T, proliferates advertisements supporting the underground economy in Los Angeles. Because AT&T claims no responsibility to screen advertisements, hundreds of false, deceptive contractor ads are being published through their print and online directories. The underground economy cost the city and state millions of dollars. Consumers are getting ripped off, Senior Citizens are being taken advantage of, and legal companies loose business.
The Federal Trade Commission ,the Direct Marketing Association and the US Postal Inspection Service have industry guidelines for the screening of advertisements. The LocalSearch Association (a national yellow pages association) provides industry advertising specifications standards and guidelines. AT&T and Pacific Bell Directory say these industry standards and guidelines do not apply to them.
AT&T and Pacific Bell Directory allow advertisements with unregistered/untraceable company names. The illegal advertisers also have hundreds of untraceable fake addresses. These fake addresses make the illegal companies look like local companies.
I have a garage door company in burbank with a true physical location. Since 2008 I have had to compete with 80+ false advertisements that AT&T allowed in the Burbank book with local addresses. Currently my company must compete with 380 garage door companies listed by AT&T within 10 miles of my location. About 85% of these ads are false and 10 % are miss listed. That is 95% inaccurate and misleading. These are horrible advertising ethics and AT&Ts products cannot be trusted.