Scam Alert: Phony Government Cons Prey on Small Businesses

June 23, 2017
Businesses beware! Con artists impersonate government agencies – everything from the health department to the IRS – and target companies with official-sounding cons. Be sure employees know how to spot these scams.
How the Scam Works
You get an email or phone call that claims to be from a government agency. It's an emergency! 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 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 end game 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 scammerssomething 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.


For More Information
To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips ( To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (