Three common small business scams
1. Fake billing or invoice scams
The scam: According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, there have been 8,269 cases of false billing scams resulting in over $7 million in loses in 2019 alone. These scams occur when scammers send out fake invoices to businesses asking for payment for anything from supplies to website domain renewal. They can even be sent from a legitimate supplier or business you commonly deal with if their email address has been compromised.
How to protect your business: Both Scamwatch and NAB state that the best way for businesses to safeguard themselves against fake billing or invoice scams is through vigilance. Querying invoices or payment requests from unfamiliar sources is a must, as is contacting existing suppliers if they send through an invoice at an unusual time or with a different bank account in order to confirm whether or not it’s legitimate.
2. Tax scams
The scam: Many Aussies have likely received a dodgy call from someone pretending to be from the Australian Tax Office and figures show just how common these can be, with the ATO reporting that it had received over 40,000 reports of impersonation scams just in the period from January to April 2019!
According to NAB, there are two common small business tax scams. The first is scammers claiming to need personal and bank details in order to send a business a tax refund. The second is scammers claiming that a tax debt is owed which needs to be paid immediately (with a credit card, money transfer or even a git card) in order to avoid arrest.
How to protect your business: While the ATO has stated that it may contact businesses via a phone call, email or SMS, it has also released the following advice to help taxpayers remain cautious:
- The ATO will not send an email or SMS asking taxpayers to click on a link directing them to any login page
- The ATO will not threaten taxpayers with immediate arrest, jail or deportation
- The ATO will not request payment via iTunes or Google Play cards, prepaid cards, cryptocurrency or to a personal bank account
- The ATO will not request a fee in order to release a refund
3. Payment Scams
The scam: There a number of different common payment scams, including overpayment scams.
One example NAB gives is a ‘terminal takeover’ scam in which a scammer asks to take hold of a payment terminal when paying for goods or services. The scammer then cancels the original payment request (often while distracting the cashier) and enters a new payment amount far higher than the original which is then paid for with a stolen credit card. The scammer will then demand that a refund of the difference be made in cash or onto a different card.
How to protect your business: NAB recommends that in-person payments using a terminal are always conducted behind a counter so that potential scammers can’t edit a transaction themselves and that if a refund does need to be made, it should be done using the original card the customer provided.
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