Phishing is at an all-time high. This is where scammers try to get any type of sensitive information in many different ways to use to steal from a business or a person. They will use means such as breaking into email by stealing passwords in hopes to find information in the email, or to use the email for more phishing scams by pretending to be you when they’re not. You can protect yourself if you understand the various types of fraud that is targeting your business. As an owner, you will be a great target for these scammers and you need to be on the lookout for the ways that they try to steal from you.
* Overpayment Trick – This scam requires that the scammer buy expensive items and overpay by check. When the business gets the overpayment, they are then asked to just send the overpayment back to them via wire transfer. Of course, the first check is cancelled, no order is made and now the business is out the money they transferred to the thief. Plus all the fees and charges for the bounced check.
* Phishing Scams – Usually these are messages that look to be sent by a real company but aren’t. They will download a virus onto your computer that will get the details of your bank and other private information that you don’t want them to have. Then they will steal your information and money and leave you with nothing. Keep a virus scanning program on your computer and have it alert you to infections. I use AVG.com (free) and malwarebytes.com (free). Each one covers different types of malware.
* Award Scams – Someone informs you that your business has won an award. But of course you have to pay a membership fee to get the award and you’ll be charged this membership fee, usually every single year. There is no real organization and it’s just a way to get your money. Be careful of this oneas it will also lead to other theft.
* False Orders – This happens to a lot of online businesses, whether they sell information products or physical products. Someone uses someone else’s credit card to buy a lot of merchandise which they then either return or sell to someone else. Make sure you are using a merchant account that detects fraud. You can be protected if the orders turn out to be from a stolen card.
* False Bills – Often scammers send business owners fake bills to trick them into thinking they owe the money. This happens with domain renewals and other issues that look real when you get them but aren’t real. I receive a “domain renewal” notice yearly that acts like it will renew my domains, but I actually do that through another company so I know it's fake. Make sure your bookkeeper and accountant (or whoever pays the bills) knows you don't pay a bill in the mail for a domain renewal. Below is a picture of a fake bill I got for a domain renewal that inspired me to write this post! I could have them do it and pay 5 -10 times more than necessary, right?
* IRS Scams – If you get a phone call from the “IRS” telling you that you owe back taxes and you know that you don’t (and even if you do), this is not how they’ll contact you. The IRS sends letters, and you call them. Not the other way around. Just hang up and don't get into it with them.
* Fake Loan Scam – You’ll get a phone call that you’ve been awarded the opportunity due to the government or the president or some other nonsense to get a special loan for your business at a very low interest rate. These people really only want your personal information; you’ll never get the loan.
* Fake Computer Virus Scam – You get a phone call from someone claiming to be Microsoft Support. They will say they are getting messages in their office from your computer and it needs to be fixed. They want to get you to log into a website and download a virus that they can then charge you to remove. Microsoft does not have a system where it gets messages from computers about viruses. Hang up and don't even talk to them.
These scams and more are quite common, but unfortunately many people fall for them every single day. This is why they are common – they work. If you don’t want to be a victim of a scam, be sure to stay educated on the current scams, research anything that seems too good to be true, and do your due diligence to ensure that information is correct. Make sure your staff knows to let you know if they get one of these calls as well.