HOW TO AVOID SCAMS
Being vigilant against fraud is not only important for a company’s bottom line, it can also strengthen customer trust. Scams and attempts to defraud Northern Arizona businesses in 2013 included misleading labor law solicitations, email phishing scams, bogus yellow page directory listings, false payment demands from scammers posing as utility company representatives, and more. Better Business Bureau (BBB) identifies five common scams and shares tips for business owners looking on how to avoid them in 2014.
1. Directory Scams – A perennial problem that has plagued businesses for decades involves the deceptive sale of directories. Commonly, scammers call a business claiming they want to update the company’s information in a directory or the Yellow Pages—scammers might send a fax that appears to request updates, but is actually an agreement to pay for services. The business is later billed hundreds of dollars for listing services they did not knowingly agree to.
Tips from BBB: There are honest and ethical companies that provide directories.However, if you are thinking about listing your business in a directory, follow these tips to safeguard your company:
● Ask for a copy of a previous directory.
● If the solicitation claims affiliation with the Yellow Pages, call your local office to verify.
● Ask how many directories will be distributed and how.
● Train staff on how to respond to directory and other solicitations
2. Office Supply Scams – Some scammers prey on small business owners hoping they won’t notice an invoice for office supplies - like toner or paper - the company never ordered.
Tips from BBB:
● s bill of lading and your purchase order.
● t order, you do not have to pay.
3. Overpayment Scams – A scammer, posing as a customer, places a large order.The scammer overpays using a counterfeit check or stolen credit card and then asks the business to wire the extra money back to them or a third party. Overpayment scams often target restaurants, hotels, or manufacturers.
Tips from BBB:
● Never wire money to unknown individuals.
● s name, street address and telephone number.
● Do not assume a check is legitimate just because your bank accepts it for deposit. It may take weeks for the bank to learn it is counterfeit.
● Check out the phone number from directory assistance or a trusted site on the Internet, not from the person who gave you the check.
4. Phony Invoice Scheme – A common variation of the phony invoice scheme is a solicitation, often official-looking, disguised as an invoice. In some cases,the small print may identify the misleading invoice as a solicitation.Solicitations may be for labor law posters, directories, web listing services,or annual report filings.
Tips from BBB:
● Institute strict accounting controls. The processing of invoices should be handled by one person and authorization closely checked.
● Check documentation before paying bills.
5. Internet Scams– Internet scams vary and include email phishing scams, promises by scammers to create a company website or guarantees of increased search engine optimization,or scammers posing as representatives from a tech support company falsely claiming there is a problem with a computer that they can fix—for a fee. In most cases, scammers take the money, but do not follow through as promised.
Tips from BBB:
● Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and update regularly.
● Update your operating system and Web browser software regularly.
● Protect your passwords.
● Back up important files.
● Do not click on links in emails from unknown individuals.
● Do not share any personal or financial information with unknown callers.
● Refuse to make commitments with people you do not know. Train staff to refuse to make deals with unknown sellers.
For more information on specific companies or questionable solicitations, contact your BBB. If you believe you may be a victim of fraud or a scam, BBB suggests you consider the following:
● Contact your local law enforcement agency.
● Contact the Office of the Arizona Attorney General at 602-542-5763 or www.azag.gov
● Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
● If the fraudulent activity occurred via the Internet, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov