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Tips for Businesses: Teach Employees to Avoid Being Scammed Online


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It is not uncommon to read about a consumer who was scammed while using the Internet. Less widely reported is the businesses that fall victim to online con artists. They can end up losing money, merchandise and customer data; their reputations can be tarnished; and their productivity impacted.

The Better Business Bureau urges business owners to educate their staff on how to identify and avoid Internet scams. Advise employees to:

  • Scrutinize invoices for Web services or advertising that you never ordered.

  • Be cautious about downloading unsolicited e-mails from individuals or organizations that you never contacted. Some attachment files contain viruses that will damage your hard drive.

  • Be careful of e-mail messages threatening your company with legal action unless you pay for an overdue account. Some e-mails request you call a number that is located overseas for information. If you call, you will be connected to a pay-per-call number and end up listening to a long recording; your company will later be billed hundreds of dollars in phone charges.

  • Be skeptical of offers to list your company in CD-ROM or Internet directories. Ask for a sample directory, verify the circulation figures, call references and contact the BBB (www.bbb.org) for a report on the publisher.

  • Ignore spam e-mails from unknown senders offering low-price or discount software. When purchasing software or other products online, if the price seems "too good to be true," it probably is. Take special care to avoid sellers offering "back up" copies of software. This is a clear indication that the software is illegal. Also, be wary of compilations of software titles from different publishers on a single disk or CD. The software is bound to be pirated.

Finally, make certain that your office and employee computer equipment is protected with anti-virus and anti-spam programs and appropriate firewalls. Without proper security measures in place, Web site attackers can target your server, change information on your Web page, steal credit information, place orders and even redirect your shipments.

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