BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Better Business Bureau says scammers target businesses during summer months, because staff is often on vacation. According to the BBB, not fully trained staff may be taking care of some financial responsibilities.
Below is information from the BBB, to avoid being cheated.
To protect your organization the BBB encourages business to recognize the most common business scams.
Directory Scams – A perennial problem that has plagued businesses for decades involves deceptive sales for directories. Commonly the scammer will call the business claiming they just want to update the company’s entry in an online directory or the scammer might lie about being with Yellow Pages. The business is later billed hundreds of dollars for listing services they did not agree to or for ads which they thought would be in the Yellow Pages. One such business, currently F rated by BBB, with over 300 complaints is Yellow Local Directory of Mooers Forks, NY.
Office Supply Scams – Some scammers prey on business owners hoping that they won’t notice a bill for office supplies like toner or paper which the company never ordered. Every year BBB receives thousands of complaints from business owners who were deceived by office supply companies and billed for products they did not want. One such business, currently F rated by BBB, is Omni Paper Supplies of Champlain, NY.
Phishing E-mails – Some phishing e-mails specifically target small business owners with the goal of hacking into their computer or network. Common examples include e-mails pretending to be from cell phone companies, banks or utilities boast big bills hoping to cause alarm and a quick click. Don’t do it! BBB has been a target as well with scammers sending phony e-mails saying your company has received a complaint. If you receive a suspicious e-mail from a business or BBB, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Contact the agency or your local BBB directly to confirm the legitimacy of the e-mail.
Overpayment Scams – Be extremely cautious if a customer overpays using a check or credit card and then asks you to wire the extra money back to them or to a third party. Overpayment scams target any number of different companies including catering businesses, manufacturers, wholesalers and even sellers on sites like eBay or Craigslist.
Data Breaches – No matter how vigilant your company is a data breach can still happen. Whether it’s the result of hackers, negligence or a disgruntled employee, a data breach can have a severe impact on the level of trust customers have in your business. You can learn how to defend your company from a data breach for free with BBB’s Data Security – Made Simpler at www.bbb.org/data-security.
Stolen Identity – Scammers will often pretend to be a legitimate company for the purposes of ripping off consumers. When it comes to stolen identity, the company does not necessarily lose money, but their reputation is potentially tarnished as angry customers who were ripped off by the scammers think the real company is responsible.
Vanity Awards – While it is flattering to be recognized for your hard work, some awards are just money-making schemes and have no actual merit. If you are approached about receiving a business or leadership award, research the opportunity carefully and be wary if you are asked to pay money to earn the recognition.
BBB offers tips to help your business avoid paying for unsolicited or unordered goods and services:
Know your rights. If you receive supplies or bills for services you didn’t order, don’t pay, and don’t return the unordered merchandise. You may treat unordered merchandise as a gift. By law, it’s illegal for a seller to send you bills or dunning notices for unordered merchandise, or ask you to return it—even if the seller offers to pay for shipping.
Train your staff. Train everyone how to respond to unsolicited phone, fax or email offers for office supplies and services. Advise employees who are not authorized to order supplies and services to refer all such sales pitches to the employee who is authorized to make these purchases. The authorized employee should then properly document any purchase orders.
Assign designated buyers and document your purchases. For each order, the designated employee should issue a purchase order—electronic or written—to the supplier with an authorized signature and a purchase order number. The order form should instruct the supplier to note the purchase order number on the invoice and bill of lading. The buyer should send a copy of purchase orders to the accounts payable department. Keep blank order forms secure.
Check your documentation before paying bills. When merchandise arrives, an employee should verify that it matches the shipper’s bill of lading and your purchase order. Pay close attention to brand and quantity. Refuse merchandise that doesn’t match internal documentation.