Small Business Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:38 AM

Bank statementScams that target small businesses can come in a variety of forms - from bills for advertising or directory listings that were never ordered to dubious office supply offers.

Small business operators and individuals with their own Internet sites continue to be confused and caught by unsolicited letters warning them that their Internet domain name is due to expire and must be renewed, or offering them a new domain name similar to their current one.

If you have registered a domain name, be sure to carefully check any domain name renewal notices or invoices that you receive. While the notice could be genuine, it could also be from another company trying to sign you up, or it could be from a scammer.

  • Check that the renewal notice matches your current domain name exactly. Look out for small differences - for example, ".com" instead of ".ca" or missing letters in the URL address.

  • Check that the renewal notice comes from the company with which you originally registered your domain name.

  • Check your records for the actual expiry date for your existing domain name.

A directory listing or unauthorized advertising scam tries to bill a business for a listing or advertisement in a magazine, journal or business directory, or for an online directory listing.

The scam might come as a proposal for a subscription disguised as an update of an existing listing in a business directory. You might also be led to believe that you are responding to an offer for a free listing when in fact it is an order for a listing requiring later payment.

Another common approach used by scammers is to call a firm asking to confirm details of an advertisement that they claim has already been booked. The scammer might quote a genuine entry or advertisement your business has had in a different publication or directory to convince you that you really did use the scammer’s product.

Be wary of order forms offering advertising opportunities in business directories. These order forms may look like they originate from a well-known supplier of directory advertising, when they don’t. 

An office supply scam involves you receiving and being charged for goods that you did not order. These scams often involve goods or services that you regularly order - for example, paper, printing supplies, maintenance supplies or advertising.

You might receive a phone call from someone falsely claiming to be your "regular supplier", telling you that the offer is a "special" or "available for a limited time", or pretending to only confirm your address or existing order. If you agree to buy any of the supplies offered to you, they will often be overpriced and of bad quality.

Protect yourself:

  • Make sure that the people processing the invoices or answering telephone calls are aware of these scams. They will most often be the point of contact for the scammers. Always check that goods or services were both ordered and delivered before paying an invoice.

  • Never give out or update any information about your business unless you know what the information will be used for.

  • Don’t agree to a business proposal over the phone - always ask for an offer in writing. Limit the number of people in your business that have access to funds and have the authority to approve purchases.

  • Effective management procedures can go a long way towards preventing these scams from succeeding. Having clearly defined procedures for the verification, payment and management of accounts and invoices is an effective defence against these types of scams.

  • Ask yourself if a caller claims that I have ordered or authorized something and I do not think it sounds right, shouldn’t I ask for proof?

 

Emergency Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 8:25 AM

Emergency help centerEmergency scams targets family members and play upon their emotions to rob them of their money. Scammers have no shame, and scams that target the elderly are the lowest of the low. The "Emergency Scam" (sometimes called the "Grandparent Scam") is not new, but it is increasing in occurrences.

Compromised contact lists from hijacked email accounts have been used to send potential victims an "urgent" email request for money, from a friend or relative with whom they have a correspondence. Common themes continue to be hospitalization or imprisonment while away from home. The friend or relative is unaware that their account has been used to send out these requests to everyone on their contact list.

In the typical scenario of an emergency scam, a family member receives a phone call from a scammer claiming to be one of his or her far relatives. Callers go on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. They claim to have been in a car accident, are having trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money.

You may get a call from two people, one pretending to be your family member and the other pretending to be either a police officer or a lawyer. Your "family member" asks you questions during the call, getting you to volunteer personal information.

Callers say that they don’t want other family members to find out what has happened. You will be asked to wire some money through a money transfer company. Often, victims don’t verify the story until after the money has been sent.

In some cases, scammers pretend to be your old neighbour or a friend of the family, but for the most part, the emergency scam is directed at grandparents.

Protect yourself:

  • Scammers are counting on the fact that you will want to act quickly to help your loved ones in an emergency

  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know and trust. Verify the person’s identity before you take any steps to help.

  • Don’t give out any personal information to the caller.

  • Ask the person questions that only your loved one would be able to answer. Call the other family members or friends to verify the story.

  • Ask yourself if the caller’s story make sense?

 

Mobile Phone Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:57 AM

mobile phonesMobile phone scams can be difficult to recognize. Be wary of somebody who talks as if they know you or of redialling a missed call from an unknown number - there may be hidden charges.

Ringtone scams might attract you with an offer of a free or low-cost ringtone. What you may not realize is that by accepting the offer, you may actually be subscribing to a service that will keep sending you ringtones - and charging you a premium rate for them. There are many legitimate companies selling ringtones, but there are also scammers who will try to hide the true cost of taking up the offer.

Scammers either don’t tell you that your request for the first ringtone is actually a subscription to a ringtone service, or it may be obscured in fine print related to the offer. They also make it difficult for you to stop the service. You have to actively "opt out" of the service to stop the ringtones and the associated charges.

Missed call scams start by scammers calling your phone and hanging up so quickly that you can’t answer the call in time. Your phone registers a missed call and you probably won’t recognize the number. You may be tempted to call the number to find out who called you. If it is a scam, you will be paying premium rates for the call without knowing.

Text message scams work in a similar way, but through a Short Message Service (SMS). Scammers send you a text message from a number you may not recognize, but it sounds like it is from a friend - for instance: "Hi, it’s John. I’m back! When are you free to catch up?" If you reply out of curiosity, you might be charged at premium rate for SMS messages (sometimes as much as $4 for each message sent and/or received).

An SMS contest or SMS trivia scam usually arrives as a text message or in an advertisement and encourages you to take part in a trivia contest for a great prize. All you need to do is answer a certain number of questions correctly. The scammers make money by charging extremely high rates for the messages you send and any further messages they send to you. With trivia scams, the first set of questions will be very easy. This is meant to encourage you to keep playing. However, the last one or two questions that you need to answer to claim your "prize" could be very difficult or impossible to answer correctly.

Protect yourself:

  • Text "STOP" to end unwanted text messages or to end unwanted subscriptions.

  • Never reply to text messages offering you free ringtones or missed calls from numbers that you do not recognize.

  • Don’t call or text phone numbers with are beginning with the well-known digits of premium phone numbers unless you are aware of the cost involved and carefully read any terms and conditions when texting short codes.

  • Read all the terms and conditions of an offer very carefully. Services offering free or very cheap products often have hidden costs.

  • Ask yourself if you know how to stop any subscription service I want to sign up to?

 

Charity Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:47 AM

poor personCharity scams take advantage of people’s generosity and kindness by asking for donations to a fake charity or by impersonating a real charity.

Philanthropy misrepresentation is the demonstration of utilizing trickiness to get cash from individuals who accept they are making gifts to philanthropies. Frequently a man or a gathering of individuals will make material representations that they are a philanthropy or piece of a philanthropy and approach imminent givers for commitments to the non-existent philanthropy. Philanthropy misrepresentation incorporates imaginary foundations as well as misleading business acts. Beguiling business acts incorporate organizations tolerating gifts and not utilizing the cash for its planned purposes.

Charity scams involve scammers collecting money by pretending to be a real charity. The scammers can approach you in many different ways - on the street, at your home, over the phone, or on the Internet. Emails and collection boxes may even be marked with the logos of genuine charities.

Often, the scammer will exploit a recent natural disaster or famine that has been in the news. Other scammers play on your emotions by pretending to be from charities that help children who are ill.

Scammers can try to pressure you to give a donation and refuse to provide details about the charity, such as their address or their contact details. In other cases, they may simply provide false information.

Not only do these scams cost people money; they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes. All registered charities in Canada are overseen by the Canada Revenue Agency and listed in its database. You can also contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if they have any information about the organizations that interest you. If the charity is genuine and you want to make a donation, get the charity’s contact details from the phone book or a trusted website.

If you do not want to donate any money, or you are happy with how much you may have donated to charities already, simply ignore the email or letter, hang up the phone, or say no to the person at your door. You do not have to give any money at all.

Protect yourself:

  • If you have any doubts at all about the person asking for money, do not give them any cash, credit card or bank account details.

  • Never give out your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

  • If in doubt, approach an aid organization directly to make a donation or offer support

  • Search the databases to check that the charity that has approached you is genuine.

  • Ask yourself about how and to whom would I like to make a contribution?

 

Money Transfer Request Scam

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 7:33 AM

dollars in an envelopeMoney transfer scams are on the rise. Be very careful when someone offers you money to help transfer their funds. Once you send money to someone, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back

The Nigerian scam (also called the 419 fraud) has been on the rise since the early-to-mid 1990s around the world. Although many of these sorts of scams originated in Nigeria, similar scams have been started all over the world (particularly in other parts of West Africa and in Asia). These scams are increasingly referred to as "advance fee fraud".

In the classic Nigerian scam, you receive an email or letter from a scammer asking your help to transfer a large amount of money overseas. You are then offered a share of the money if you agree to give them your bank account details to help with the transfer. They will then ask you to pay all kinds of taxes and fees before you can receive your "reward". You will never be sent any of the money, and will lose the fees you paid.

Then there is the scam email that claims to be from a lawyer or bank representative advising that a long-lost relative of yours has died and left you a huge inheritance. Scammers can tell such genuine sounding stories that you could be tricked into providing personal documents and bank account details so that you can confirm their identity and claim your inheritance. The "inheritance" is likely to be non-existent and, as well as losing any money you might have paid to the scammer in fees and taxes, you could also risk having your identity stolen.

If you or your business is selling products or services online or through newspaper classifieds, you may be targeted by an overpayment scam. In response to your advertisement, you might receive a generous offer from a potential buyer and accept it. You receive payment by cheque or money order, but the amount you receive is more than the agreed price. The buyer may tell you that the overpayment was simply a mistake or they may invent an excuse, such as extra money to cover delivery charges. If you are asked to refund the excess amount by money transfer, be suspicious. The scammer is hoping that you will transfer the refund before you discover that their cheque or money order was counterfeit. You will lose the transferred money as well as the item if you have already sent it.

Protect yourself:

  • If you have been approached by someone asking you to transfer money for them, it is probably a scam.

  • Never send money, or give credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust.

  • Don’t accept a cheque or money order for payment for goods that is more than what you agreed upon. Send it back and ask the buyer to send you payment for the agreed amount before you deliver the goods or services.

  • Ask yourself if it is really safe to transfer money for someone I do not know?

 

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AboutMe

I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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