The Scam Stops Here: Small Business Fraud Protection Tools
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) posted a warning earlier this year cautioning small businesses against a new email scam with a seemingly real request for a proposal. However, opening the RFP attachment will lead to a website that requests your personal information or asks you to download disguised malware.
This is neither a surprise nor the first scam of its kind. Scammers have been mooching off of hardworking people and small businesses since cavemen started giving false pretenses to each other on ways to build a fire.
Many scams are designed to mimic authentic information; this is how so many people fall victim to them. Fortunately, there are a few clues to look for when protecting yourself from fraudulent situations.
The BBB advises small businesses to be cautious when opening emails from outside sources. Many RFP scams are generic in order to reach a wider pool of potential victims. Overly generic emails and proposals are the first indication that something is off and should be left alone.
Be on the lookout for suspicious activity in your inbox. With scams, it is much easier to prevent than to correct. Question any emails you get from a new sender or that you are not expecting.
If you think you may have received an untrustworthy proposal but aren’t sure, call the company to verify before opening any files or following any included instructions.
Likewise, many of the best ways to avoid getting hustled include awareness. When you find yourself as a victim, it can oftentimes be too late. Proactively searching for and subsequently avoiding them can decrease your chances of falling victim to one.
The BBB created Scam Tracker to help prevent an assortment of scams. This tool keeps record of all reported illegal schemes in the US and Canada. To use it, enter a keyword, select the type, enter a location, and it will show you all the scams reported in its database. You can also narrow down the results by date.
To help others with this tool, you can report any scams you find while using the tips on this page and increase the prevention of cons for other small businesses like yours.
Here are some other tools to prevent and protect your small business against scams.
Though digital documents have without a doubt made our lives easier, they have also opened a gateway for document doctoring and signature forgery. It is all too easy for someone to take a digital document and change the content, either by adding, removing, or rewording it.
Digital signatures go beyond electronic signatures; digital signatures are meant to protect against signature forgery. An e-signature can be as simple as typing a name into a keyboard. Consequently, anyone with access to the document (legal or not) can sign the document for you.
Digital signatures, on the other hand, are a type of digital fingerprint where your credentials are linked with the digital document. Using digital signatures can prevent online forgery.
Identifying Credit Repair Scams
There are no guarantees in the business world. Failed businesses are often turned into tales of inspiration once an entrepreneur achieves success. In the meantime, small business credit can take a couple (dozen) hits. Identifying credit repair scams can be a challenge, but they usually promise to rebuild small business credit by shady or even legally impossible ways.
Remember that there is no easy way to fix credit. It is a slow process that only an accredited financial advisor can help you with. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
False Invoice Prevention
Another way con artists take advantage of small companies is by sending them fake invoices. They send small businesses a common bill, such as one for office supplies, that can be easily overlooked and grouped with the company’s real invoices.
The best way to avoid this is to tighten up your bill-paying system. Assign the job of paying the bills to one person, or a small group of people if necessary. By having specialized people take care of the invoices, they will become familiar with your bills and they will be able to recognize false ones that come your way.
Although there is no foolproof method to rid your company of these malicious advances, educating yourself and your staff, along with employing your business with multiple tools can greatly decrease your chances of falling victim to one.
Always be sure to question dubious emails, call to make sure questionable emails are valid, and avoid scams by using the previously mentioned preventative resources such as Scam Tracker.