Red hand; message be scam smart

Tips On How To Avoid Online Scams

There are all kinds of online scams you need to avoid. If you are involved in an online business or if you are planning to start a new business on the internet, read this post. It will tell you what kinds of scams you might encounter, and offer you tips on how to avoid online scams.

First, here are some general threats that you need to avoid. According to scamspotter.org, it is expected that scammers will steal over $2 billion before 2020 is completed. It is important that you learn how to recognize these and thwart their efforts. Here are three rules to follow when becoming involved online:

1) Slow Down

Don’t just jump on an opportunity because the scammer tells you that you need to act fast or this big red circle with line across: scams target youchance will disappear. Check out the business first — take your time — ask questions, but don’t be forced into a bad situation because you are being rushed.

2) Legal Action Threatened

You are told to act fast to avoid having legal action taken against you. Research — look up the bank, agency, or organization that supposedly made the call and contact them directly.

3) You Are Threatened By A Caller Who Claims To Be The IRS

If you get such a call, and the person is demanding that you pay back tax payments, do not send money. A reputable person or agency will not demand payment on the spot.

There are many scams designed to steal money from you if you have an online business. Let’s look at this list and find out how to protect yourself:

  • Are you buying from a real company?First, search for the company’s details. Are they a registered company? Look for the company’s terms and conditions. Check their address. They should have a street name and not just a post office box.
  • See what other people have said about the company. Read reviews from people other than the company itself. If you don’t quite trust the company, don’t click or download anything.
  • Don’t give away personal information. Scammers can use this information to hack your accounts. Check that the company is legit before ever giving out this personal information.
  • If you have been hacked, check to make sure your details are not shared online. If these details are publicly available, your accounts have been put at risk.
  • Use strong passwords. Make sure your email accounts have a strong password that you use just for that site. If needed, you can use a password manager for storing them.
  • Use 2-factor authentication. This two-factor authentication process will offer much better protection on sites such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, as examples.
  • Pay by either debit or credit card. This technique will offer you extra protection if you have to recoup a loss. An example: Someone hacked my credit card account and bought a used car somewhere in Texas (I am in Alaska.) with my card. I notified the bank, who found the scammer who had made the fraud purchase. The bank also refunded all my money.
  • Learn about your bank’s policies.How do they operate? How will they communicate with you? If they phone, what  type of security questions will they ask?

Here Are Ways To Protect Your Business

Train your employees. Explain to your staff how scams work, and be sure they know how to handle them. Encourage them to talk to other staff members or to you if they spot a scam. As scammers will often target more than one person in an organization, it is important that they talk to each other to learn if such a thing has occurred. Teach employees not to send passwords or sensitive information by email. Then don’t break this rule by asking them for sensitive data

Check invoices closely. Do not pay a bill unless you know it is for items that were actually ordered. Teach your staff to follow the same practice.

Limit the number of people who are authorized to place orders or pay invoices.

How are you asked to pay? If it is with a wire transfer, reloadable card, or gift card, you are looking at a scam. Teach your staff to watch for these methods.

Understand technology. Caller ID information can be faked. Impostors will use an ID that they believe you will trust.

Keyboard with white keys; one in green that says "fraud:Don’t open attachments or downloadable files from emails you didn’t expect. For example, scammers can hack into your social media account and send messages that appear to come from people you trust. These may contain harmful viruses.

Secure all your business’s sensitive information. You can check out this report from the FTC, called Small Business Computer Security Basics.

Know the company you are dealing with. Before you start doing business with a new company, search online to see what others are saying about them. If the words “scam” or “complaint” appear in regard to this company, check carefully to decide if you agree.

Ask for recommendations from other companies before ordering from the new one.

Common Scams Against Small Business

Here are some scammers’ techniques that try to trip you up:

1) Phony invoices

You might receive fake bills for supplies or other merchandise that your company uses. The scammers hope that the person who pays your bills will assume that these invoices are legitimate. If you are being billed for something critical to your business, the scammer hopes you will pay first and ask questions afterward.

2) Fake orders of office supplies or other products

Someone might call to verify an existing order from a business, and then send unordered merchandise with demands that you pay immediately.

If you do receive merchandise you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it free.

3) Scams offering a directory listing or advertising

Sign: Incoming call: scammer calling; button to accept or rejectPerhaps the scammer claims to be from the Yellow Pages, and asks you to provide contact information for a “free” listing. Or perhaps they say they are confirming information for an existing order. Then you receive a big bill for something that was supposedly free.

4) Utility company impostors

The scammer calls and says your service is about to be interrupted. The object is to scare you into believing your bill is late and you must pay immediately.

5) Impersonation of a government agency

These scammers can threaten to suspend your business license, impose fines, or even take legal action. You can be tricked into buying something you are told is necessary for government compliance.

6) Tech support problems

You’ll receive a call or perhaps a pop-up message supposedly from a well-known company, letting you know there’s a problem with your computer security.

They may ask you to pay them to fix the problem or to enroll your business in a useless computer maintenance program. They may access sensitive data such as passwords, customer records, or credit card information.

7) Phishing emails, social engineering, and ransomware

These scammers try to trick employees into giving them information that is confidential or sensitive. The first contact could be a phishing email or call from a trusted source, even from social media. They claim to be a supervisor or senior employee.

They create urgency or fear, and tell the employee to wire money or provide sensitive information. Or, perhaps they send an email that looks like a routine password update request. They can also use malware that will lock your files and hold them ransom.

8) Bogus business promotion and coaching

By using fake testimonials, videos, seminar presentations, or telemarketing calls, they will promise you amazing results or perhaps exclusive marketing research. Just pay the fee.

You may also start in a business at a low fee, they be asked for thousands of dollars for later upsells.

9) Changing negative reviews

Such scammers claim they can replace negative reviews of your product or service. They may say they can boost your scores or ratings. Know that posting fake reviews is illegal. Endorsements, according to the FTC, must reflect the honest opinions and experience of the endorser.

Scam poster: Scheming; Crafty; Aggressive; Malicious

10) Scams related to credit card processing or equipment leasing

Because the scammer knows you want to reduce your cost if possible, they will offer you lower rates for credit cards or leasing property. If they can get your signature on a contract, they can create a false document.

Don’t sign something with key terms left blank. Get copies immediately, because terms can be changed by the scammer if you do not.

It is important to stay vigilant and aware of the ways you may be scammed. Take your time to investigate; know the source of the information; don’t give information to anyone you feel might be a scammer.

Protect yourself and don’t fall into a scam trap. Do remember that if you think something is too good to be true, it probably is false. Guard against scams and avoid the pitfalls you might face.

May you stay safe from scammers’ schemes.

References I used for this post are as follows:

www.scamspotter.org

usa.gov/common-scams-frauds

ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/scams-your-small-business-guide-business

I also used an article from www.citizensadvice.org.uk, but could not get the link to work. You can look for information on their website.

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