Trying to protect your business from schemes and scams can keep any business owner on his or her toes. Scams operators have become more sophisticated in their approach to part you from your money. Every year businesses lose millions of dollars to con games and fast-talking promoters through a wide variety of different schemes. But, you can protect yourself if you are constantly wary of schemers. Use common sense in all your business dealings. Clearly, not all strange sales or promotions represent schemes against businesses, but ask questions of unfamiliar service or sales personnel, telephone promoters or charity appeals. A business person who gathers all the facts should be able to separate the scheme from the honest transaction.
If you are in doubt about a business proposition, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides the following suggests:
- Refuse to make commitments with unknown persons, especially over the telephone. Ask that all advertising propositions, charitable appeals, requests for biographical information and sales pitches of any type be made in writing.
- When dealing with advertising publications, insist on verifiable circulation figures, details of publication dates, name(s) of publishers, number of paid subscribers and sample copies.
- Institute strict controls in the accounting department. The handling of invoices, for example, should be centralized and authorization should be closely checked. Phony invoices can con your staff into mistakenly thinking your business has purchased a product or service.
- Keep a list of regularly used publications as protection against schemers who claim that your company previously has used the publication.
- When asked to donate to various causes, find out the full name, address, and purpose of the charity and ask for a copy of the organization’s latest financial statements. Make the check payable to the charity itself, not to an individual solicitor.
- Compare the prices and quality of products with other suppliers if you are offered a deal from an unknown salesperson.
If a possible con artist approaches your employees, if you want to find out more about a certain business proposition, or if you need assistance resolving a dispute with a merchant, always contact the BBB.