It’s a sad fact that scams are and always will be part of running a business. Certain scams are minor
inconveniences, while others can be catastrophic to your cash flow and operations. Some
purposefully target a weakness in your business, or they randomly try their luck with as many
businesses as possible.
A scam is basically classified as any dishonest activity that’s aimed at getting something of value
from a company. It doesn’t have to be an illegal activity strictly speaking, but it usually involves some
kind of fraud, and if the scam is successful, it becomes illegal.
What To Do When You Fall Victim To A Scam
The best defense is a good offense. This means that it’s better to be able to spot a scam before it becomes a problem. However, the level of sophistication that goes into some scams can make them extremely difficult to spot. If you’re busy or distracted, it can also be all too easy to fall victim. We’ve all been there.
The key is to recognize when you’ve fallen victim and be proactive about it. Trying to hide the issue
will only lead to more problems down the line. If you’re the victim of a business scam, here’s what to
1. Report The Scam Immediately
Staying silent will make it harder to get back what you lost. It’ll also make it easier for the scammers
to move onto another business without getting caught. Any scam you see should get reported to the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC), even if you don’t fall victim to it. This helps the FTC to trace scams
and fraudulent activities so they can assist anyone who does fall victim and put out warnings to
businesses around the country.
You should report the scam and the events that occurred to the relevant law enforcement agency. If you aren’t sure who will take the case, talk to your local police for advice. They can take official statements and escalate the case to a federal level if necessary.
2. Trace The Scam And Take The Necessary Cybersecurity Steps
At the same time as reporting the scam, you need to see how your business fell victim to it. Be sure
to trace and record every point of contact so that you can build a solid case against the fraudster.
You can check to make sure you can shut down any cybersecurity threats or breaches that occurred.
This includes intercepting passwords to your company systems, compromising email accounts, or
hacks of your social media accounts, website, or online systems.
3. Talk Openly To Your Employees
Being open and honest about the events of the scam is the best way to ensure the loyalty of your
employees. If it was an honest mistake, an open discussion will help prevent it from happening again
and help that employee feel less guilty. If it was more malicious, then an open discussion will help
you see how you ended up in a situation where an employee was willing to help someone defraud
4. Have The Open Discussion With Impacted Customers And Suppliers
As with your employees, it’s best to be open with the customers and suppliers that the scam could
impact. Taking ownership of a mistake and showing them the steps you’re taking to ensure it doesn’t
happen again will go a long way towards recovering their trust in your business. Covering details up
or hiding the scam entirely could end up being far worse in the long run. Especially if your customers
and suppliers find out that their money or operations were compromised, too.
The Most Common Scams To Watch Out For And How To Prevent Them
The next step is to learn about what scams are commonplace. The more you know, the less likely
your business is to fall victim (again or for the first time).
1. Invoice Fraud
This is by far the most common business scam. In the most advanced examples, a business is sent a
fake invoice that looks like it is from a regular supplier, but with different banking details. It’s
imperative to check that the invoice template matches others sent by the company and to contact
them directly (not via the email the invoice was sent from!) to check its validity.
The other approach is more spray-and-pray, where invoices get sent to as many companies as
possible with the hope that people will assume they’re legitimate, and make payment. To prevent
this, ensure that you have strict accounting processes in place.
2. Fake Inspector Scams
There are many ways to do this. You may get a fake inspector from a utility company for your gas,
water, or electricity. This person will threaten to cut you off if you don’t pay an overdue invoice
immediately. You also get scam artists who pretend to be government agents who can withdraw
licenses and permits on the spot if a fine isn’t paid immediately.
If an inspector approaches your business, check their credentials independently, not with a contact
number or email they supply.
3. Cyber Scams – Phishing And Ransomware
Phishing emails are all about getting the recipient to provide them with access to sensitive data, such
as banking login details or passwords for the company’s social media accounts or servers. In the
worst cases, a phishing email can be the way in for ransomware that will lock the company out of its
systems. The only way out is to pay a hefty fee to get the malware removed before sensitive data is
destroyed or released to the public.
Awareness is your best defense here, and anti-virus or spam detection software is helpful too.
4. Unordered Deliveries
This is another common scam where a scam artist will deliver something to your business that you
haven’t ordered and demand payment for it. Often, they’ll have information about a real order
you’ve placed and will phone ahead to confirm delivery. This telephone conversation is recorded and
used as proof that you ordered what they’re trying to deliver.
If you’re expecting a delivery, keep all order information on hand and check waybills and shipping
documentation before accepting any goods.
Be Scam Savvy
If your business was the victim of a scam, you’re not alone. Take action fast and then put measures
in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
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