360 Degrees Group Inc.

SCAMS AND YOUR BUSINESS – COMMON SCAMS THAT TARGET BUSINESSES

 

If you own a business or are part of a non-profit organization, you spend a lot of time and effort making sure the organization works well. But when scammers go after your organization, it can hurt your reputation and your bottom line. Your best protection? Learn the signs of scams that target businesses. Then tell your employees and colleagues what to look for so they can avoid scams.

Fake Invoices  

Scammers create phony invoices that look like they’re  for products or services your business uses — maybe  office or cleaning supplies or domain name registrations.  Scammers hope the person who pays your bills will assume  the invoices are for things the company actually ordered.  Scammers know that when the invoice is for something  critical, like keeping your website up and running, you may  pay first and ask questions later. Except it’s all fake, and if  you pay, your money may be gone. 

Unordered Office Supplies and  Other Products 

Someone calls to confirm an existing order of office  supplies or other merchandise, verify an address, or offer  a free catalog or sample. If you say yes, then comes the  surprise — unordered merchandise arrives at your doorstep,  followed by high-pressure demands to pay for it. If you don’t  pay, the scammer may even play back a tape of the earlier  call as “proof” that the order was placed. Keep in mind that  if you receive merchandise you didn’t order, you have a  legal right to keep it for free. 

Directory Listing and Advertising Scams 

Con artists try to fool you into paying for nonexistent  advertising or a listing in a nonexistent directory. They often  pretend to be from the Yellow Pages. They may ask you to  provide contact information for a “free” listing or say the call  is simply to confirm your information for an existing order.  Later, you’ll get a big bill, and the scammers may use details  or even a recording of the earlier call to pressure you to pay.

Utility Company Imposter Scams 

Scammers pretend to call from a gas, electric, or water  company saying your service is about to be interrupted.  They want to scare you into believing a late bill must be  paid immediately, often with a wire transfer or a reloadable  card or gift card. Their timing is often carefully planned to  create the greatest urgency — like just before the dinner  rush in a restaurant. 

Government Agency Imposter Scams 

Scammers impersonate government agents, threatening to  suspend business licenses, impose fines, or even take legal  action if you don’t pay taxes, renew government licenses  or registrations, or other fees. Some businesses have been  scared into buying workplace compliance posters that are  available for free from the U.S. Department of Labor. Others  have been tricked into paying to receive nonexistent  business grants from fake government programs.  Businesses have received letters, often claiming to be from  the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, warning that they’ll  lose their trademarks if they don’t pay a fee immediately,  or saying that they owe money for additional registration  services.  

Tech Support Scams 

Tech support scams start with a call or an alarming pop-up  message pretending to be from a well-known company,  telling you there is a problem with your computer security.  Their goal is to get your money, access to your computer,  or both. They may ask you to pay them to fix a problem you  don’t really have, or enroll your business in a nonexistent or useless computer maintenance program. They may even  access sensitive data like passwords, customer records, or  credit card information. 

 Social Engineering, Phishing, and  Ransomware 

Cyber scammers can trick employees into giving up  confidential or sensitive information, such as passwords or  bank information. It often starts with a phishing email, social  media contact, or a call that seems to come from a trusted  source, such as a supervisor or other senior employee, but  creates urgency or fear. Scammers tell employees to wire  money or provide access to sensitive company information.  Other emails may look like routine password update  requests or other automated messages but are actually  attempts to steal your information. Scammers also can  use malware to lock organizations’ files and hold them for  ransom.  

Business Promotion and Coaching Scams 

Some scammers sell bogus business coaching and  internet promotion services. Using fake testimonials,  videos, seminar presentations, and telemarketing calls, the  scammers falsely promise amazing results and exclusive  market research for people who pay their fees. They  also may lure you in with low initial costs, only to ask for  thousands of dollars later. In reality, the scammers leave  budding entrepreneurs without the help they sought and  with thousands of dollars of debt. 

Changing Online Reviews 

Some scammers claim they can replace negative reviews of  your product or service, or boost your scores on ratings sites.  However, posting fake reviews is illegal. FTC guidelines say  endorsements — including reviews — must reflect the honest  opinions and experiences of the endorser.

Credit Card Processing and Equipment Leasing Scams 

Scammers know that small businesses are looking for ways  to reduce costs. Some deceptively promise lower rates  for processing credit card transactions, or better deals on  equipment leasing. These scammers resort to fine print,  half-truths, and flat-out lies to get a business owner’s  signature on a contract. Some unscrupulous sales agents  ask business owners to sign documents that still have key  terms left blank. Don’t do it. Others have been known to  change terms after the fact. If a sales person refuses to  give you copies of all documents right then and there — or  tries to put you off with a promise to send them later — that  could be a sign that you’re dealing with a scammer.  

Fake Check Scams 

Fake check scams happen when a scammer overpays with  a check and asks you to wire the extra money to a third  party. Scammers always have a good story to explain the  overpayment — they’re stuck out of the country, they need  you to cover taxes or fees, you’ll need to buy supplies, or  something else. By the time the bank discovers you’ve  deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the  money you sent them, and you’re stuck repaying the bank.  This can happen even after the funds are made available  in your account and the bank has told you the check has  “cleared.”

Learn More @ https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/small-businesses

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