Friday, April 24, 2009

Phone bill fraud from "Internet Business Assocation" and ESBI (Enhanced Services Billing, Inc)

[update June 18, 2009]

It took a second call to Verizon (our phone company) to get the charges removed from our bill.

Doing a little more googling found this excelent write up:

[end update]

Today while going over the phone bill for my office, I noticed a section of the bill that Verizon prefixed with the text:

"This portion of your bill is provided as a service to Enhanced Services"

In the details buried in that section is a line item from "IBASERVICES MNTHLYFEE" for $39.95.

Googling "IBA Services" doesn't really come up with anything promising.

Calling the phone number for Enhanced Services (ESBI), 800-460-0078, I get to a helpful service rep named Eli, who tells me that IBA Services stands for Internet Business Association, and that IBA provides some kind of enhanced business websites. I immedately knew that this was a bogus charge. (the company I work for is a software consulting company... if anyone is going to make a website for us, it will be us)

I told Eli flat out that it was a fraudulent charge, and he quickly promised to cancel the monthly billing and refund the current charge, and put us on a "do not call" list.

I asked Eli a few questions about Internet Business Association. He answered my questions about IBA so quickly that it made me think that ESBI was just a front for IBA. When I asked him if he handled questions for any billing company other than IBA, he said "no", which confirmed my suspicions.

A co-worker, who overheard this conversation, googled "Internet Business Assocation", and found several hits with reports of bogus and fraudulent charges:

Also, the first hit, IBA's own website (which is pretty minimal), does tell you up front that they charge $39.95/month to their victims:

IBA also provides our customers with a unique auto-created web space on the Internet utilizing state-of-the-art technology and a vibrant and vast collection of artwork to improve their visual presence on the Internet, all for only $39.95 per month, conveniently billed on their local telephone bill so that there are not even additional checks to write for the small businesses we work with

The same co-worker was pretty pissed at the situation as he has had to field most of the annoying phone calls from scam companies like IBA Services that come into our office.

Beware, and keep an eye on your phone bill!