No one wants to be scammed. It costs money, and it can make you
feel a little bit silly. Perhaps the worst thing is knowing that
your money has gone to a scammer.
To help small businesses avoid scams, the Australian Consumer
& Competitions Commission (ACCC) has recently published a guide
aimed at reducing the increasing number of businesses falling foul
of scams aimed at small businesses. The publication offers some
important reminders for small business owners, particularly given
the increase of non-face-to-face business operations.
The key message is that awareness is the best form of
prevention. It also provides a useful catalogue of the more
prevalent types of scams, which include:
Overpayment scams where an apparent
overpayment is made for the supply of goods or services from the
targeted business. Scammers hope for a refund of the overpaid
amount before the target realises that a bounced cheque or phoney
credit card has been used.
Trademark publication scams where the scammer
will send the targeted business an invoice for the registration of
a trade-mark with IP Australia. IP Australia's trademark
register is free and these persons do not represent IP
Directory or advertising scams where a scammer
sends a targeted business an unsolicited invoice from a directory
or advertisement which they have no connection with or that does
Domain name scams where the targeted business
is sent an unsolicited invoice for an internet domain similar to
its own. The scammers try to trick the business into using their
service or just take its money.
Fax back scams where the scammer sends the
targeted business an unsolicited fax with a 'too good to be
true' offer requiring a return fax. The target is charged for
the reply fax at a premium rate netting the scammer a healthy
Office supply scams where the targeted
business is sent an invoice disguised as being from their
'usual supplier' but for goods or quantities that are not
To avoid being a victim, the ACCC recommends:
keeping filing systems well organised, aiding fraud
paying attention to the identity of your usual suppliers;
not agreeing to offers by phone or right away - ask for written
confirmation to keep a track of all dealings;
creating strict procedures for verifying, paying and managing
accounts and invoices;
limiting the persons who are authorised to place orders and pay
asking for proof that you agreed to the supply of goods or
services and checking that they have been received before
never giving out or confirming business or personal information
to people you do not know;
asking, when goods or services are apparently free, about all
possible and ongoing obligations.
By being aware of the common tricks used by scammers you are
already protecting yourself from them. If you are concerned, please
contact Shaun Temby and Kim Lendich.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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