BBB shows you how to identify and avoid vanity award, phishing and yellow pages schemes
A majority of the complaints and scam reports Better Business Bureau receives from consumers involve an unsatisfactory purchase they made from a business. However, there are several instances where business-to-business dealings also go sour, leaving business owners no choice but to file a complaint with BBB.
Small businesses, especially newer ones, are frequent targets for scammers due to their perceived lack of experience. Businesses can avoid falling victim to scams by using the same tactics as individuals. Check out any unsolicited offers; don’t pay fees up front; and visit bbb.org to research any company reaching out to your business.
The following scams are three of the most common targeting small businesses:
1. Vanity Award Scams
There is no greater feeling than having an outside party recognize the great work you do. However, scammers prey on this emotion. They offer up and attempt to get businesses to pay for fake awards from organizations that do not exist. Often the name of the organization sounds official or is very similar to a recognized name.
BBB Tip: Always verify the organization handing out the award by visiting its website or calling it directly. Be suspicious if you have never heard of the organization or have not recently entered your business for an award. Additionally, check the company out with BBB to make sure it has no previous history of complaints.
2. Phishing Scams
Recently, phishing scams have become more common. Scammers send emails that look legitimate on the surface, but if the links included in the email are clicked, dangerous malware is installed on the user’s computer. The goal is for scammers to capture personal information from the business’ computer system and/or destroy hard drives.
BBB Tip: Be cautious if the email contains several spelling or grammatical mistakes. Scroll your mouse over any embedded links to see what the true URL is before clicking on them. If you don’t recognize the website associated with the sender, either delete the message or contact the company supposedly sending the email to verify its legitimacy. Also, make sure your office computers are always up-to-date with the latest firewall and antivirus software.
3. Yellow Pages Scams
This scheme is successful for many scammers because neither the term “yellow pages” nor the famous logo of two fingers walking are trademarked. The scammer will contact the business claiming its yellow pages listing is about to expire or offer the business owner an upgrade on his or her current listing. Any money paid to the scammer is stolen.
BBB Tip: Always ask callers for their name and what company they work for so you can check their BBB Business Review before giving out personal information. Also, only let certain authorized personnel handle business transactions. Those individuals will be familiar with what advertising your business currently has running and what companies your business has agreements with.
For more alerts on scams in the area, visit centraltx.bbb.org/business-alerts.