Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week for the week of April 30 – May 6, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The Better Business Bureau has great support from the small business community. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness. The following article is from the BBB Serving Metropolitan New York.
Small businesses are commonly targeted by scammers. But scams against businesses may not be recognized as often. In advance of National Small Business Week, to help the many small business owners who operate honestly, BBB Serving Metropolitan New York is offering tips on how to avoid those with no integrity: con artists who prey on businesses.
“BBB’s ScamTracker tool is great for business managers as well as consumers,” noted Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Metro NY BBB. “We can see people reporting small business scams there, and it’s a valuable source of information for business owners.”
Here are frequent small business scams that are being reported in New York now:
Tech Support Scam: Your computer screen may freeze and display a message claiming that your computer has been compromised, and saying that you should contact a technician at a certain phone number or email to solve it. Or someone may call your office, claiming that your computer system has been infected, and offering to help with an online repair.
- How it works: If you call the number, the answering party may try to get you to provide personal financial information (which can be used for identity theft), or may seek to get remote access to your computer (allowing the scammer to put ransomware on your computer).
- What to do: Do not click anything and do not call the scammer! Hang up if someone calls you with this kind of pitch. If your screen freezes, reboot or turn off your computer at once to see if this eliminates the problem. In an extreme case, call in a professional technician to help you clean any malware out of your computer. Check BBB.org to check on business profiles of computer technicians near you.
Directory Scam: This long-running scam against businesses may be related in some cases to the “can you hear me now” phishing scam that is currently sweeping the country.
- How it works: The scammer contacts your company and claims that your company agreed to purchase an expensive yellow pages directory listing or other listing in a directory such as a “Who’s Who” book. Some report that, to prove agreement to the cost, the scammer may play a recording of the intended victim saying “yes” over the phone; this may have been collected previously through a scam call intended to get the victim to say the word “yes” for recording purposes. In other cases the con artist presents a phony invoice for an inflated sum, demands payment, and threatens to ruin the company’s credit record if payment is not given promptly.
- What to do: Do not pay! You are not obligated to pay for any goods or services that you did not order. You can file a complaint with BBB.org or report the scam with BBB’s ScamTracker. You can also file a complaint with FTC. If a bogus debt is reported to credit reporting agencies or a debt collector, be sure to dispute the claim immediately in writing.
Recently Reported Business Scam Issues:
- Phony business debt collector: A company falsely claims to offer debt collection services for small businesses, and demands an advance fee for its services. The service is never provided and the phony collector vanishes. What to do: always check on the background of debt collectors with BBB and check on any required licensing before doing business!
- Scams using the Google brand name: The con artist calls, texts or emails to claim that money is needed to correct a problem with a Google-related service for businesses. What to do: don’t fall for it! Communicate directly with your service provider at a contact address familiar to you, and avoid dealing a stranger who contacts you out of the blue.
- Phishing messages via text: Increasingly, people report that scammers are getting in touch through text messages. What to do: be wary and do not click on text messages that come from unfamiliar parties.
Visit newyork.bbb.org any time to view BBB Business Profiles and Charity Reports, post complaints and reviews, discover scam trends and report scams with ScamTracker, and find more scam prevention tips for consumers and businesses.