The 5 Scams That Could Affect Your Small Business
Whether you are small business working out of your home or you have an office of over 20 staff members, you may still be subject to fraudulent scams through your computer or phone. March is Fraud Protection Month so it is a perfect time to take a look at the 5 most popular scams outlined by the Competition Bureau of Canada currently being perpetrated towards small businesses in 2017.
Despite the recent addition of anti-spam laws in Canada, there are still a number of emails that can make it through to either work or personal addresses that cover everything from needing to update your banking information to someone looking for you through a dating service.
These emails are often filled with malicious software that is designed to gain access to files and personal information on your computer. If you see one of these potential spam emails, do not click on any links, logos or attachments. Even if there is a link to unsubscribe to future emails, this itself could be a way to alert the scammers that your address is valid.
If you receive these emails, your best practice would be to delete it completely. As an additional safeguard, have legitimate protective software uploaded to your computer to ensure future emails have less chance of infecting your computer.
As a small business owner with your own website address, you may be approached with a fake renewal notice advising you that your domain name is set to expire. The trick is that the website address they indicate needing a renewal will be slightly different from your actual web address. It will be missing a letter or have a suffix ending with .com instead of .ca.
To avoid any confusion, be aware of which company you originally registered your domain name with and when that would be up for renewal. Even if the renewal notice sounds legit, connect with your original domain name provider based on the contact information from your original paperwork to ensure you are renewing with the same company.
The point of this scam is to go after small businesses who already pay to have their listings appear in magazines, journals or business directories. The caller or emailer will quote your existing listing and ask for updated information with a renewal fee. Another version of this scam is when a directory service contacts you to offer a free listing. The plan is then they would follow with that business at a later date demanding payment at a much higher price than legitimate directory listings.
Keep a record of everyone you advertise or list with, whether it’s a local newspaper or an industry magazine. Ensure you have the contracts and receipts for all the different outlets so there are no surprises or mistaken identities.
Office Supply Scam
If you are a small business that goes through a lot of every day office supplies, the Competition Bureau of Canada warns you may be ripe for the taking in this deception. These shady office supply companies will call and claim to be your “regular supplier” asking if you would like to get more of what you normally order like paper, printer ink or maintenance supplies. They might even try to incentivize you by saying there is a special offer that they wanted to ensure you were able to take advantage of since you order from them normally.
These companies are trying to take advantage of your busy schedule and hope you won’t question them too much. They will then send you low quality products and higher prices than you were quoted over the phone. Just be diligent to always order from your normal supplier or just purchase them from a store. Be wary of anyone who calls trying to sell you office supplies over the phone who isn’t your regular supplier.
If your small business sells a lot of products online or through newspaper ads, you may fall victim to the overpayment scam. In this type of trickery, you will receive an advance payment via cheque or money order for your goods or services that is higher than what you normally charge. When you contact them about the disparity, they will blame it on an accounting error or make up another flimsy excuse. They will ask that you to just transfer the extra funds back to them to clear it up.
What these con artists are doing is hoping that you will send them the extra money back before noticing that their cheque is going to bounce or that their money order is actually counterfeit.
According to the Competition Bureau of Canada, the key to avoid falling for any of these scams is to be diligent about your paperwork, have a specific procedure for the approval of all purchases and ensure that everyone who has internet access is fully trained on the proper use of emails and websites.
Scam artists know that as a small business owner, you might be too busy to pay attention to details. But paying attention to those details will only help your small business and will ensure you don’t fall prey to fraudulent activity designed to take your hard-earned money.