BBB's Small Business Week 7 Scam Alerts
On the cusp of the Better Business Bureau’s Small Business Week, we examine their 7 “scam alerts” as the year-round good business sense that they are:
1. DIRECTORY SCAMS – unsolicited updates or listings requested by yellow pages or other directories can result in bills for an ad or listing to which an owner doesn’t remember agreeing; TIP: be sure to get any details regarding a directory listing in writing and read (or have your attorney read*) the “fine print” such as cancellations that will automatically renew unless made in writing;
2. VANITY AWARDS – you receive the notice online or in the mail that you’re the recipient of a business award; TIP: beware of award notifications that subsequently require payment in order to receive the award!
3. OFFICE SUPPLY SCAMS – scammers send phony invoices, subscription statements or office supplies or equipment bills to business owners with the hope that they’ll just get paid! TIP: have a clear system for accounts payable to track what’s been legitimately ordered;
4. OVERPAYMENT SCAMS – fake customers target businesses which sell goods or products by overpaying with check or credit card and requesting extra money wired back to them; TIP: avoid wiring money to unknown customers, clients or vendors!
5. STOLEN IDENTITY – con artists pose as representatives of fabricated or closed companies to defraud business owners and often damage the business’ reputation in the process (because customers tend to blame the real business regardless of the theft); TIP: if your business identity is stolen, public notification by way of a press release, mailing or website helps mitigate damages!
6. PHISHING EMAILS – many scammers access businesses by way of a phony email looking like notification from the IRS or other governmental agency or perhaps claiming an award or settlement of some kind; TIP: do not click on link in suspicious emails, even if it appears to be “urgent;” instead, first research the sending entity’s authenticity.
7. DATA BREACHES – due to employee negligence, hackers and other factors, data breaches will inevitably occur; company security and customer trust can be seriously jeopardized by the failure to prepare; TIP: the BBB offers a free data security program at www.bbb.org/data-security.*
*Outside of the BBB recommendations and its valuable tips for business owners, this writer will add that one of the best allies a business owner can have in minimizing exposure and handling risk is an attorney. Thwarting scams is undoubtedly a year-round endeavor, and today, just part of good business.