Scams that Target Small Businesses

March 27, 2013

Small business owners often lack the time and resources to fight fraud, which makes them popular targets for any number of different scams. Being vigilant against fraud is not only important for a company’s bottom line, but it also strengthens customer trust in the company.

“Every year, BBB receives an abundance of complaints from small business owners who have fallen victim to a scam,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “It is important for small business owners to be aware that fraud can come from internal threats, such as employee fraud, as well as external full-time scammers.”

Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina recommends business owners beware of the following common scams that often prey on small companies:

  1. Stolen Identity – Scammers will often pretend to be a legitimate company for the purposes of ripping off consumers. When it comes to stolen identity, the company does not necessarily lose money, but their reputation may be tarnished.

  1. Phishing E-mails – Some phishing e-mails specifically target small businesses with the goal of hacking into their networks. Common examples include e-mails pretending to be from the IRS claiming the company is being audited or phony e-mails from BBB saying the company has received a complaint. If you receive a suspicious e-mail from a government agency or BBB, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Contact the agency or BBB directly to confirm the legitimacy of the e-mail.

  1. Overpayment Scams – Be extremely cautious if a customer overpays using a check or credit card and then asks you to wire the extra money back. Overpayment scams target any number of different companies including catering businesses, manufacturers and wholesalers.

  1. Data Breaches – No matter how vigilant your company is, a data breach can still happen. Whether it is the result of hackers, negligence or a disgruntled employee, a data breach can have a severe impact on the level of trust customers have in your business. You can learn how to defend your company from a data breach at

  1. Charity Pitches – Most businesses are regularly asked to donate funds to needy causes, from requests to support the neighborhood’s latest fundraising project to appeals for sizeable charitable contributions. While many requests are legitimate, every year small businesses become victims of fraudulent or deceptive charitable solicitation schemes. Make sure to always check out the charity at first.

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