It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to keep a business running smoothly. Ask any small business owner and you’ll probably hear stories of long hours and rough beginnings. Unfortunately, there are people out there that make a living out of trying to scam owners and their business out of their hard-earned money. As a result, it’s crucial to be aware of the risk out there and learn how to safeguard against these scammers. We came up with a few of the most common threats that face small businesses today and what you can do to protect your company.

Man carrying out scams

The Scam: Phishing Schemes

Cyber scammers have many tools at their disposal to try and get you to give up critical information about your business. This could be anything from passwords to credit card information. They send phony emails that look legitimate to get you to click a link or enter in your information. Once you’ve done so, the scammer now has access and can cause all kinds of havoc. They can steal your money or hold your website hostage.

The Safeguard: If you receive an email requesting you to enter important information, make sure you check the sender information. Better yet, don’t enter payment unless you have personally verified the authenticity of the request.

The Scam: Phony Invoices

Scammers also create fake invoices that appear to be real. They’re oftentimes masquerading as something that your business actually uses like domain hosting or office supplies. Businesses tend to get a lot of invoices, so the scammer is hoping that you’ll pay up without looking into it. The scammer may also try to create a sense of urgency by making the invoice for something critical to operation, like keeping your website up and running.

The Safeguard: Make sure you verify invoices before paying them. Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something seems off, it’s always better to look into it than to be scammed out of your money.

A man handing over his credit card to scammers

The Scam: Fake Tech Support

These scams typically begin with a call or pop-up alerting you to a serious security vulnerability in your computer. It appears to be from a reputable company like Microsoft but in all actuality it’s a scammer. They’ll tell you they need access to your computer or require payment in order to fix the problem. Once they get this though, they could get access to sensitive information and leave your computer vulnerable to further attacks.

The Safeguard: If you believe there might actually be something wrong with your computer, have a licensed professional check it out instead. It could save your company time, money, and reputation.

The Scam: Robocalls

Any business owner can tell you that they receive a lot of robocalls. Many of these calls claim to be for something that could help your business, like getting a higher ranking on Google or removing online reviews. It’s important to know that no reputable company will robocall you. The goal here is simply to get you on the phone. After this you will likely be transferred to a “salesperson” that will make guarantees about helping your business to scam money from you.

The Safeguard: If you receive a robocall, the easiest thing is to simply hang up. You can try asking the robo-caller to take you off their call list, but there’s no guarantee that they will actually stop. If you’re looking for a better solution, check out some of these tips.

 

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of scams out there. To learn more, the FTC has an excellent list of scams and how to prevent them here. If you see a scam, report it to  FTC.gov/Complaint. By reporting you could help prevent another small business from being victimized. Also, remember to educate your workforce about scams. They can only defend your company if they’re aware of the threats to your business. Let them know about the scams that threaten your company and how to identify and prevent them.