BBB tips for small businesses during national Small Business Week

May 24, 2011

BBB tips for small businesses during national Small Business Week

[May 17, 2011]—In recognition of Small Business Week, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding businesses of simple things they can do to protect themselves from potential scammers.

Always read the fine print. Read all documents carefully before you sign them, including the small print usually found at the end of the document. There have been several instances of advertising directories sending bills to people who don’t return them thinking that will cancel the advertising. Unfortunately, the fine print clearly states the contract will automatically renew unless cancelled in writing.

Empower your staff to ask questions. Encourage your staff to pay attention to people saying they are at your establishment for a service call. Keep a list at the front register or someplace easily accessible that details all the legitimate service dealers you work with, such as the name of your copy machine company, your phone service provider, computer service, etc. Let your employees know that they have the right to ask to see documentation and identification if someone comes in claiming to be a service provider, even if they appear be in a service uniform or try to intimidate them by claiming the service has to be performed by law. Provide a back-up number that employees can call to alert you to questionable service requests.

Recent scammers, claiming to be service providers for fire extinguishers and alarms, have gone into businesses in what appears to be a uniform and said they were there to provide an annual service. If the employee did question the fact that they weren’t the regular service provider, the scammers said they had recently bought out the old provider and the service was required by law.

Guard your business identity as closely as your personal identity. If you don’t have a regular professional shredding service, be sure you invest in a quality cross-cut shredder and shred all unnecessary materials listing your business name and any identification or account numbers. Put the shredded materials into a plastic bag daily and pour a small amount of water into the bag to “mess” up the shredded material.

Again, educate your employees never to give out account information or even first names of employees without permission from management. One trick scammers frequently use is to say authoritatively, “Can you just verify your account information for security purposes?” Another favorite trick to obtain personnel names is to say, “Your accounts payable person…I can’t remember the name…said it was okay.” Natural human reaction is to supply the name and that makes it easy for the scammer to call back with a name and title to request account or financial information.

Check your financial statements regularly to monitor check withdrawals. Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated when it comes to copying business checks, including watermarks. Make sure that all checks drawn against your account were actually issued by your business.

Post scam alerts where your employees will easily be able to see them.

Your BBB regularly sends businesses scam alerts by e-mail and fax. Post these where your employees can readily access them and talk to them about what is going on with current business scams.

Got questions? Check with the BBB.

If you get a suspicious mailing, receive a questionable phone call or don’t feel right about someone saying they are there to provide service, call your BBB at 609-588-0808.