Business Scams: Be Aware

In this day and age, fraud is a very real problem both on and offline and small businesses have to be vigilant of scammers trying to defraud their company. There are a number of steps one can follow to ensure the safety of your company and its assets.

In the UK in 2009 it was reported that small businesses were losing up to £800 a year through online scams and phishing emails, a significant cost for new start-ups and established companies alike.

The moment you register your business is the moment you need to start protecting yourself. If you’re dealing with credit card payments of any kind, you’ll need to consider bogus card users. Last year in Australia, fake cards were responsible for more than A$74 million of card fraud within the country. Business owners need to be stringent in their approach to taking card payments. Sign up for CCV (card code verification) and look out for incomplete information and discrepancies in billing/shipping addresses. If the card is registered to a company, search online for companies house info at to verify that it is correct.

Phishing emails are designed to allow hackers instant access to a victim’s online activity from the moment the email is opened. Any personal details you type into your browser can be accessed and used by the fraudster. If you have any suspicions of an email or it has come from an unknown, untrusted source, don’t open it.

Also look out for fake online reviews of your company, or contact from anyone offering to remove negative reviews for a price. Sierra West Jewellers of Orem, Utah found themselves at the centre of one such scam earlier this year when they received an offer from an unknown company to remove a negative review of their business posted just hours before, for a price of $500. Owner Tim Branscomb looked up the review in question and found it to be entirely false.

Fake reviewers and the fraudulent companies they’re working under are usually easy to spot. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find them on a Google search and if they contact you by phone or email, they’ll avoid answering any in depth questions – who’s in charge of the company for example, and they certainly won’t be afraid to hang up on you if you ask too many pertinent questions.

For US businesses, the Small Business Administration can help you deal with fraud and protect your business, while UK businesses can contact the Office of Fair Trading for advice on the different agencies equipped to deal with claims of fraud. The Federation of Small Businesses is entirely dedicated to small businesses and their owners and is available for more in-depth support.