It looks like a harmless business-to-business check for a mere $3.25. However, the back states that by cashing it, the bearer authorizes YP.Com Internet Yellow Pages to electronically withdraw $27.50 a month apparently forever from the depositor's checking account.
Several local businesses, including the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, have received these checks.
"This almost got deposited," said SLO Chamber of Commerce President Dave Garth. "But at the last second, our accountant said, 'Why would we be getting a check from these people?' I turned it over, though who reads the back of a check?"
Several local bookkeepers and business owners have failed to read the fine print and unknowingly committed their companies to advertising on YP.com.
"I think this is like being raped and not knowing it," said a local bookkeeper who asked to remain anonymous after discovering that the business was now listed on YP.com as an advertiser.
In response, YP.com Yellow Pages representative Cathy Turk said that their customers usually read the back of checks. Turk refused to comment further.
The SLO Chamber of Commerce included a head's up to members regarding the checks in a newsletter sent out on Sept 27.
"It looks like a scam, smells like a scam but we're not saying it's a scam. You be the judge," Garth added.