10 Small Business Scams To Avoid
May 15, 2018 | Category: Tips for your Business
There are a lot of ways people try and take advantage of others. Small Businesses and their owners are often targets because they do not have the resources of a large company, but they tend to have more money than individuals. In fact, nearly half of all cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. Small business scams can make a huge dent in your finances. Check out our list below for 10 ways scammers take advantage of small businesses.
Google My Business Call Scams
You may have already been exposed to these scams, but if you didn’t know it was a scam, you probably wouldn’t recognize it as one. Which, of course, is what scammers want. They’ll tell you there is a problem with your Google Business Listing, acting as if they’re calling from Google. For a small fee, they will update it for you. Not only are you paying them for a service Google gives you access to for free, but you’re also then giving them access to your listing. Google will not call you regarding your listing. If you’re not sure if your listing is in good shape or you want someone legitimate to manage it, let us know and we can help you out.
Business Citation & SEO Small Business Scams
This is another one that has to do with your business listings. If someone comes to you telling you that you are missing listings or are listed incorrectly on places like Yellow Pages, Yelp, or one of the many other directories on the internet, they could be scamming you. Remember, almost all of these listing pages are free to list on, meaning you don’t have to pay to renew your listings. These same scammers may also tell you that your SEO efforts aren’t working. They may show you reports indicating that you’re not ranking or that your citations are incorrect. Often though, these reports are skewing your data or they’re simply fake. Make sure to contact a legitimate company if you’re concerned about your rankings or citations.
The Awards Scam
If someone emails or calls you saying you’ve won an award, that’s great! Except when it’s not. These scams are fake awards being offered and all you need to do is pay the cost of receiving the award. If you don’t recognize the company or haven’t submitted to receive an award, it’s probably fake. Besides, an award from a company or organization that is not well known won’t do you much good anyway.
Online Advertising Scams
Like the Google My Business scam, these scams involve receiving a call, most often from a robot, telling you that they have an offer for online advertising for your business. Sometimes, they’ll even tell you that your current advertising efforts aren’t working. They then request payment or information from your business that they can use against you. Even giving someone your email address can open you up to more scams or having your information sold. You will not get any advertising services from these businesses and probably won’t hear from them again. Always research businesses before signing up with them.
This one is a more complicated scam. The scammers must have more technical knowledge to pull it off. They intercept emails, usually because they have already gained access to your network through another scam or security flaw. By intercepting emails, they can see any invoices that someone may send via email. They simply have to change the bank account information on the invoice. Then you unwittingly send the amount for the invoice to the scammer’s bank account.
The Overpayment Scam
You are contacted by a new client who wants to make a large purchase from you. They send over the cheque, but it seems they’ve accidentally sent you too much! How on earth could you be scammed by someone sending you too much money? Well, the client contacts you about the overpayment and asks you to simply send them the difference once the cheque is deposited. So, you do. It takes a few days for the bank to review the cheque before they find out that it’s fake. Then you not only don’t receive payment from the client, but you’re also out the money you sent them.
Fake PR Scams
What this scam demonstrates is that people will do anything to get their foot in the door. You will receive a call from a company saying they want to interview you as an industry expert for their publication. Now, to be clear, don’t write off calls like this immediately, especially from reputable companies. But in the case of the scam, they will invite you for an interview, and instead, attempt to sell you advertising services. Although it is more of a trick than a scam, and you still have plenty of time to say no, they could employ other scam tactics to get you to buy, and it’s a waste of your valuable time. If a company has to trick you into buying their services then they probably aren’t very good at what they do.
Tech Support Scams
If someone calls you claiming they’ve found an issue with your computer, or if you see a warning in your browser saying your computer is compromised and offering a number to call, it’s probably a scam. They will get you on the phone, say they need access to your computer so they can fix the problem, and then walk you through giving them access. If you do give them access, they can then get any information on your computer and use it against you, including banking information, or important files.
Ransomware works in the same sort of way. The scammer must get access to your computer, but this time it’s usually done through email. Then they or the ransomware program encrypts files on your computer so that you cannot access them. At this point, they will contact you and request money to give you access to your files again. The best way to avoid it is to be cautious when opening emails and don’t give anyone else access to your computer.
Fake Domain Renewal Small Business Scams
You may get a notice that your domain is about to expire. The scammers send you a website domain that will appear to be the same as yours, but a letter is often missing, or the suffix is different. You end up paying to renew a domain that isn’t even yours. Knowing the company who your domain is registered to can ensure that you don’t accidentally pay someone else for your domain.
Interested in more Small Business tips and info? Check out our blog! If you’d like to learn more about small business scams, take a look at The Little Black Book of Scams from The Government of Canada.