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  • Writer's pictureJane Pollard

Small Business Scams – have you been scammed? Would you even know?

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

With so much business conducted online becoming a victim of an online scam crime is more common now than risk to your physical person or property. Everyone now is a target and our trusting natures be manipulated.

As accountants and tax agents we get many calls from clients checking if a text or an email is a scam.

Scammers take advantage of the busy nature of many small businesses to swindle them.

How do the scams work?

1. False billing scam

The most common trick is issuing a fake bill for unwanted or unauthorised products or services such as an advertisement listing. A business directory scam is well known where you receive a bill for a listing in a well known directory. The disguise the offer as an outstanding invoice or a free entry but with hidden subscription agreement in the fine print.

2. The domain name scam

You are tricked into signing into singing up for unsolicited internet domain registration very similar to your own. You may receive a fake renewal invoice for your actual domain name and pay it without realising. They take advantage of your busy day to just adding it to your list of items to attend to

3. Office supplied scam

Receiving an invoice for toner or paper or stationery that you never received. Scammers will call your office discussing an order that was never placed.

4. Phishing scams

This is a popular method to obtain your credit card details. Scammers send emails or SMS that appear from your bank or an online payment service. The claim there is a problem with the account and request you verify your details on a fake but convincing copy of the same bank’s website.

5. Phishing emails

These are emails commonly used to gain access to your computer. They “fish” for personal details by encouraging you to click on a link or an attachment. If you click malicious software will be downloaded onto your computer. The phishing email will appear to come from an organisation you know and trust like a bank or financial institution.

What can you do to protect yourself?

1. Be aware - check for spelling errors, trust your intuition – if it looks phishy it probably is

2. Don’t respond – ignore suspicious emails (press delete and empty Deleted items), block suspicious SMS, throw out suspicious mail

3. Do your research – don’t agree to any offer straight away, don’t let emotions carry you away with appeals of urgency or deadlines

4. Find out who you are dealing with- call your banking institution to check

5. Keep your computer secure – update firewalls, use recommended ant-virus and anti- spyware software

6. Only pay online with a secure payment service – look for a URL with a https and a padlock symbol

7. Never send money to anyone you do not know

8. Protect your identity – don’t give out personal information such as tax file numbers or dates of birth or bank account numbers

9. Report a scam to (Telephone is 1300 795 995)

10. Register with the scamwatch subscription service to receive free email alerts or

information of new scams doing the rounds (twitter tag: @scamwatch_gov)

Our next blog will be more specifically relating to the Australian Tax office.

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