May 5-11 is National Small Business Week, an event that recognizes the important contributions made by American entrepreneurs and their small businesses. In honor of the event, Better Business Bureau will be giving several presentations in cities throughout the region warning businesses about potential scams that could pop up, so they can better protect themselves.
Here are some of the top five riskiest scams that may be facing small businesses, as well as how to recognize and avoid them.
5. Tech support scams. Tech support scams often start out with a call from the scammer or a pop-up message on your computer saying a problem has been found. The goal is either to take your money or gain access to your computer.
Be careful when you receive calls or warnings about your devices. Scammers often pose as reps from well-known companies.
The best way to protect yourself and your business from these scams is to keep your technology up-to-date, and to make sure your employees know how to work all devices used in your business.
4. Fake check scams. This is a simple scam; someone sends you a check with and asks you to wire back the difference. By the time you or the bank discovers the check is fake, the scammer is long gone with your money.
Always be cautious if someone sends you a check for more than the agreed upon amount; scammers will have a good reason for the overage.
According to the BBB Small Biz Scam Report, the median loss for fake check scams is $675.
3. Fake invoice scams. Scams like these occur when businesses receive fake invoices or supplier bills for items (usually office supplies) they never ordered. Other times, scammers may show up with unordered supplies and demand payment.
The median loss for fake invoice scams is $500. This can be an effective ploy for getting money, especially when business owners aren’t paying close attention to their regular bills.
Always verify bills and payments are being sent to and from the correct vendors.
76 Texans reported fake invoice scams to BBB Scam Tracker in 2018.
2. Directory listing and ad scams. Solicitors may attempt to sell your business ads and directory listings you don’t need. This scam can be tricky to spot, because they may be selling an actual ad, but it may not be worth the money due to low circulation. Some scammers pretend to be from Yellow pages, since the name is not copyrighted.
One victim that spoke to BBB’s Small Biz Scam report said they bought advertisements with what they believed to be a local phone book, which disappeared after taking money and telling them delivery would take six to eight weeks.
Always research other businesses you consider working with. If you determine they are legitimate, ask where and how often your ad will circulate so you can decide if the money is worth it.
1. Bank/credit card imposter scams. With a median loss of $1,400, bank and credit card imposter scams are the riskiest scams for small businesses. Scammers call you, posing as employees from your bank or credit card company, and claim there is an issue with your account. They then ask for your account information for verification purposes.
It is important to remember to never give your personal information to someone unless you are sure of their identity.
If you receive a call like this, remain calm and hang up. Call your bank or credit company back yourself with the number you have on file to ask about the status of your account.
Please reach out to me directly (Heather Massey at firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on local presentations we’re giving during National Small Business Week. We hope you can make it and learn more about how BBB can help your business!
For more information, visit us at bbb.org.