As small businesses rely more heavily on the internet and modern technology, they open themselves up to even more opportunities to be impacted by a scam. There are identify theft, phishing, lottery, and rogue software scams to name a few. And new scams seem to appear all the time.
Because would-be scammers know that small and mid-sized businesses may lack the resources for strong security protection, fraud internal controls, or people to investigate fraud, these smaller businesses are particularly vulnerable to scams. Scammers also know that small businesses may be too busy to be on their guard.
Learn how to recognize scams.
There are several tell-tale signs of a scam.
- Misspellings and bad grammar
- Threat of account closures, particular financial accounts (bank and credit card)
- Charitable donation requests after a major disaster that made news headlines
- Requests to verify account information by clicking on a link
- Notifications that you have won a large sum of money through a lottery
- Requests to send money to help an ill relative of the requestor.
- Leaderships and business awards asking for money.
- Calls to update your business directory listing claiming to be from the Yellow Pages or other online directory.
- Receiving office supplies (and a bill or invoice) that your business never ordered.
- Fake antivirus alerts
To protect your business from scams, follow these tips:
1) Train employees to spot scams. Educate staff on how these scams work, particularly those who answer the phones or email.
2) Inspect invoices closely. Create a list of companies that you typically purchase supplies or inventory from, and compare invoices and supplies received to this list. Implement strict accounting controls for invoicing personnel.
3) Verify advertising directories. When approached with a directory update, insist on getting publication and circulation details, including number of subscribers and a sample publication. Scammers won’t likely be able to provide this information.
4) Don’t pay individual solicitor for charitable donations. If you receive a request for a donation and want to oblige, make the check out to the charitable organization, not the individual asking for a donation.
5) File a complaint. File a complaint with both the FTC by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or by filing a complaint with the FTC online and with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).