Becoming a victim of fraud can quickly ruin your business's finances or reputation, a fate that meets thousands of small businesses owners each year. Small business owners often don't have the resources or time to combat fraud, which makes them a popular target for scams, but being aware of the most common scams can help them avoid becoming victims. All small business owners should look out for these schemes:
Small business owners are often targeted by hackers trying to gain access to their networks or computers through phishing emails. Suspicious emails may pretend to come from the Better Business Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service or other organizations, claiming that a complaint has been filed against the business or that an audit is occurring. To protect yourself, never open attachments or links in suspicious emails. Instead, contact the organization directly to confirm the contents of the message.
For decades, businesses have suffered from deceptive sales for directories. A small business owner may receive a telephone call from a scammer who wants to “update the business's listing” in a directory, like the Yellow Pages. The business owner complies, only to later receive a bill for hundreds of bucks for listing services they didn't ask for, or for ads which they believed would appear in the actual Yellow Pages.
It's wonderful to be recognized for your contributions to your industry, but some awards are unfortunately scams. If the granter of an award asks for money, beware and research the opportunity before handing it over.
Office Supply Scams
Many details go into running a business, and some scammers deceive small business owners by running office supply scams. For example, a scammer might bill a company for products they did not order or want, hoping that the owner is simply too busy to notice another bill for office supplies.
Even the most diligent companies can still fall victim to data breaches caused by negligence, malicious hackers or even disgruntled employees. These breaches can significantly effect your business's reputation and the faith customers have in your company.
Scammers often pose as customers and overpay for a purchase using a credit card or check. They ask that the extra money be wired to a third party or back to their account. The small business owner does not know that the checks are actually fake or that the credit cards are stolen, and they unknowingly get scammed into losing money. To avoid this, only work with buyers whose names, addresses and contact information you can verify, and never wire money back to someone who is paying you for a product or service.