Scam Alert: Who’s Who Directories Take Your Money and Give Little in Return

• Many directories are touted for their usefulness in “networking” – especially important in this tough job market – but they are generally not available in libraries or bookstores, only online.

• Callers may try to sell you by implying that they have a “connection to well-known historical companies or projects,” notes the Better Business Bureau. “The investigation showed that in many cases, no link exists.”

• In promotional literature, a Library of Congress catalog card number may be prominently displayed. All that means is that the publisher has asked to catalog the book; it is not an endorsement of the Library of Congress.

• Directories publish personal information such as email and personal addresses and dates of birth. These can easily be gleaned and used by identity thieves.

Not sure if a notification you received is from a reputable publication?

Ask questions like these:

• What is the selection process? How was I nominated and for what specific achievements? If the answer is vague, suspect that the publisher may have bought your name on a mailing list or found it elsewhere.

• Who else passed the grade? Sorry, but can you really be considered one of the top executives in the country for running a small store when Fortune 500 CEOs are being ignored?

• Who writes your biography? Legitimate registries can request background information and write their own report; vanity books give you the pen.

• Should we pay more to play better? In legitimate books, winners usually get reviews of a similar size. With custom directories, additional paragraphs, pages, and photos are often available for a fee.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-proof your life, published by AARP Books / Sterling.

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