Thanks to the Internet, scams against businesses have increased over recent years. While the Internet makes it a lot easier for us to do business, it also makes it easier for con artists to “do business.”
The Better Business Bureau suggests the best way to avoid being scammed is to educate your staff on how to identify and avoid Internet scams. Here are some red flags to help your employees identify potential Internet scams:
- Beware of “techno-scam artists” promising to create and post your company’s Web site, for a very low fee, but never follow through.
- Be cautious about downloading unsolicited e-mails. Some attachment files contain virus that can wreak havoc on your hard drive.
- Be careful of e-mail messages threatening your company with legal action unless you pay for an overdue account. In many cases such e-mails request you call a number that is located overseas for further information. If you call, you will be connected to a pay-per-call number; you will end up listening to a long recording, and could end up paying hundreds of dollars in phone charges.
- Be skeptical of offers to list your company’s name in CD-ROM, Internet or fax directories. Before listing your company in these types of directories, verify their claimed circulation/distribution and make sure they exist. Ask for a sample CD-ROM or Fax Directory and call references at other companies that have used the services.
- Web site attackers can target your server and change information on your Web page, steal credit card information, enter orders and redirect your shipments. There are also browser attackers who send incriminating electronic mail and make it seems as if it is coming from you. Advice? Use a secure server and take proper precautions to protect access to your Web site contents.
To combat these and other types of Internet scams, the BBB suggests you do the following:
- Always collect and check references carefully.
- Always run an anti-virus program to help prevent computer viruses. Additional steps you can take to protect your office computers are outlined in the BBB Tips publication on CyberSecurity.
- Instruct your staff to carefully evaluate e-mails from individuals and businesses that they do not recognize, before determining whether to respond.
- Always check out online companies with an impartial outside organization, like the BBB, before paying for merchandise or services. Contact your BBB for a reliability report or look for the BBBOnLine Reliability Seal (www.bbbonline.org) on the company’s Web page.