While consumers all fear being scammed, they are not the only ones that have that worry. Small businesses can be a target of scammers as well. Since business owners conduct themselves differently than consumers, it may be easier for a fraudster or scammer to get the information they want. But not if you know all of their tricks! Here are some common scams to watch for, and tips for protecting your business.
Scammers have a lot of different tactics they try to use to get what they want. One of those is to pretend to be someone you are familiar with. This could be a friend, family member, a coworker, another company you do business with, or the government. Depending on who they pose as, there are a few different strategies they may use to get information from you. If they are claiming to be a person or another company, they may try to make their business seem urgent. They hope this causes you to scramble and make the mistake of giving out information you shouldn’t. If they are posing as a government entity, they may use a title or departmental name to invoke fear, which could lead to you give out information.
Something to watch out for in these tactics is what information they want and how they want to receive it. For example, scammers don’t want any sort of trail that may lead to them. If they ask for money, they may ask for a wire, or some sort of prepaid card. Scammers will try to be discrete and these tactics will allow them to do so.
5 Common Scam Methods
- Fake Invoices
Fake invoices are one way that scammers will try to get you to send money. In this instance, the scammer is hoping that whoever handles your accounts payable does not question the invoice, and pays it. Some of the ways they do this are by claiming to shut down your website if you do not make this payment. The scammer’s goal is to, once again, cause a sense of urgency. Watch out, also, for calls threatening to shut off one of your utilities.
- Browser Pop Ups
Another way scammers try to get information from you is by taking advantage of technology. The tech support scam is one example. When this occurs, you may get a pop-up saying something about how your “computer’s security is at risk,” and you need to “call this number” in order to get help keeping it secure. They will try to gain access to your computer when you call, putting all files, such as customer records, passwords and other confidential information, at risk. Scammers also do this through social engineering and phishing attempts.
- The Fake Check Scam
Scammers may also mail you a check for a product or service, except the check will be for an amount larger than what it needs to be. The scammer will request you send back the remaining amount. The catch here is that the original check is not going to clear, leaving you with less than you started. If you ever receive a check and are instructed to return excess funds, it is best to ask for a new check to be sent for the correct amount.
- Fake Contract Scam
Watch out for scams where the scammer is trying to get you to sign a contract, but there are details to be determined later, or they won’t give you a copy of the contract up front. These are normally signs that it is not a legitimate deal.
- Poor Reviews Removal
One of the methods that may be easier to catch includes a scammer calling and claiming they can remove poor online reviews or boost online reviews. The Federal Trade Commission has declared this to be illegal, stating that reviews should always be honest opinions. If you get a call and the caller makes this claim, don’t take the bait!
How to Protect Your Business
Depending on the scam, there are various ways to protect you and your business from being scammed. The first, and most effective way, is to train your employees properly. Inform them of these ways that scammers try to get information, and teach them what should be kept confidential. Keeping up-to-date records of who, and what, has been paid is a good habit to keep, as well as a good way to prevent confusion when a scammer attacks. Checking a company’s reputation before doing business is another good practice. This can prevent you from getting into bad contracts.
Hopefully, this article will help you prepare for future scam attempts against your business. You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission website at www.FTC.gov/smallbusiness for more information on scams, how to protect your business or to report a scam attempt. They have plenty of helpful information available to help train your employees to help protect you and your business.