January 13, 2016 By Suzanne Robertson

In December 2015, the Federal Trade Commission scored a victory in an effort to combat a prolific scamming ring.

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The operation was alleged to have stolen millions of dollars from small businesses and nonprofits through a widespread office supply scam. Fraudsters would pose as company suppliers and send businesses fake invoices, demanding payment. The FBI has issued several notices about these scams already this year.

Here are some other scams to look out for so your small business won’t be a victim. Keep your hard-earned dollars away from fraudsters!

The Vanity Scam

This scam takes advantage of a very human emotion – pride. How it works is that a small business owner is told via email that they have won a large cash award. Usually, the target of the scam is asked to pay a price for receiving the award. No surprise that once money is paid, the person who sent the email is suddenly unreachable.

If you or your business is contacted about an award or sweepstakes, do your research. It usually takes just a few Google searches to determine if you’re being taken for a ride.

“Phishing” and Identity Theft

It just takes a simple email link for the bad guys to steal your identity. Known as “Phishing”, this fraud comes in the form of an email asking for personal information like bank passwords, credit card information or even social security numbers. Thankfully, many email servers have filters that direct these types of emails into a spam folder. If you come across a phishing email, delete immediately!

Fake Charities

Giving to charity is not only a tax break; it’s good for the soul. But there are those that take advantage of the warm feeling from giving. You might receive an email asking for donations with details about how funds will go to help those in need. Guess what happens next? The “charity” will disappear without a trace. Again, research is your friend! Make sure that the charity is the real deal by investigating online or by making a few phone calls. If you do want to give, go directly to local charities or reputable large charities.

Cheating Checks

Your small business might receive something in the mail that looks like a rebate or refund check. Be sure you read the fine print before depositing or cashing. By cashing the check, you may be agreeing to be billed monthly for something you don’t want or need.

The bottom line? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

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