Take the time to protect your business from scammers

You’ve worked hard to build your small business and invested your personal funds. You’ve hired and trained your staff, created your website and social media strategy, set up your bank accounts and lines of credit, selected your suppliers and product lines and applied for your business credit card(s). Your customers are not the only people excited. Welcome to the world of scamming small businesses.

Fraud, scams and other illegal practices cost small businesses millions of dollars every year. But small-business owners can take some simple steps to protect themselves and their companies.

Here are four common small-business scams to look out for:

  1. Fake invoices for products that you never ordered nor received. To prevent this, businesses should match purchase order to its corresponding invoice.
  2. Another common scam involves local charity donation requests. These often come via phone calls from scammers posing as representatives of local non-profit agencies. To combat the scam, don’t agree to donations over the phone.
  3. While most consumers are aware of the problem of identity theft, it can happen to businesses too. Scammers like to use fake websites and social media. They may attempt to advertise as if it was your business. Or perhaps they could copy your website content or logos to a different site.
  4. Paying for ads in non-existent directories. I’ve always followed a simple rule – Trust but Verify. It’s always best to pay invoices by checks. You can always stop payment if something is wrong. Credit cards don’t provide that level of security, and once your credit card has been compromised, you need to immediately notify the card issuer to cancel the card and send a new one.

With all the challenges that you face within your business, protecting against scammers may not be a high priority on your daily list. Look for the signs that scammers are testing you. Scammers try to build trust and create a sense of urgency that you must take action quickly. Most of all, scammers will look for credit card or wire transfer payments.

There’s a lot at stake in running a business – your family and employees are depending on you. Spend 15 minutes every day improving your business firewall to prevent fraud. That firewall includes your employees and your technology. Protect what you and your team have created! It will be the best investment of time you could spend, and your entire team will be part of something special.