Central Ohio Businesses: Beware Of These Cons

July 06, 2017

Columbus, OH
- BBB is urging local businesses to beware of two cons that are affecting businesses nationally, and here in Central Ohio. Businesses can regard the details below to learn how to spot these scams.

Government Con Scam

Con artists will impersonate government agencies – everything from the health department to the IRS – and target companies with official-sounding cons.

How the Scam Works

You get an email or phone call claiming to be from a government agency. They may say that it is an emergency, or your business is in trouble. Maybe you owe taxes, missed a court date or face an investigation. But one thing is the same: you need to act immediately.

Scammers' exact techniques depend on the medium. In an email, con artists typically try to trick you into downloading malware. Usually, they embed a link and urge you to click for further information. On the phone, scammers may press you directly for personal or business information. No matter the form, the endgame is the same. Scammers want passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.

Tips to avoid a business phishing scam:

  • Train employees. Make sure the people processing invoices or answering phone calls are aware of common scams and can spot the techniques con artists use.

  • Hang up. Don't confirm information from unknown callers. This just gives the scammers something to use against you.

  • Be suspicious of the method of contact. The government typically communicates by mail unless you opted in to another form of communication. Agencies don't usually call, text, or email first.

  • Confirm by calling another number. If you want to confirm that the call was a fraud, reach out to the real organization through a phone number you find on their website or another reliable source.

  • Don't believe what you see. Scammers are great at mimicking phone numbers, official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because it looks legitimate, does not mean it is.

  • Create a process for inspecting invoices. Always check that goods or services were both ordered and delivered before paying an invoice. Designate a small group of employees with authority to approve purchases and pay bills.

Vanity Award Scam

A recent Scam Tracker report states a Columbus business received information that they had been nominated for the “2017 Best of Columbus Award”. After looking further into the website and process, the business was skeptical of how legitimate the award was.

BBB serving Central Ohio has seen similar alerts in other states from what appears to be the same organization. The emails provide a link to a website for more information and the phone number on the website is 1-888-509-9915. Information not stated in the email is that to receive the award, businesses must pay for the plaque starting at prices of $149.99 and up.

Other information on the website states that the Best of Columbus Award is an annual program that works exclusively each year with local business owners, trade groups and professional associations. BBB investigation shows the website http://columbus.onlineawarded.org is just under four months old.

BBB offers several tips to avoid losing money in a “vanity award” program:

  1. Check the “award” company's BBB Business Profile at bbb.org to ensure the offer is legitimate.

  1. Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are they simply want your money.

  1. If you didn’t apply for an award or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not trustworthy.

  1. Most legitimate awards do not come with costs for the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it even more closely. If there is a fee for winning or for receiving a certificate or plaque, it could be a scam.

  1. Ask specific questions about how your company or organization was chosen for an award and find out how many similar awards are given each year. Get details. Businesses and organizations that offer legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.

  1. If the announcement for the award leads to a website, do not enter any personal information on that site unless you are positive of the company’s legitimacy and the validity of the award.

To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips (bbb.org/scamtips). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

For more information, follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter and at bbb.org.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.