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One of the most serious issues with frauds is that they seem so real. My mother, for example, recently renewed her vehicle plates online and was shocked by the extra expenses she felt the DMV had imposed, such as “convenience” and hefty “processing” fees. When it was all said and done, she had spent more than $60 more than her previous year’s payment. After much wailing, she returned to the website, only to discover that it was not the California DMV but a third-party seller, with tiny print at the bottom of the page indicating “no refunds.”

Small Business Scams

It’s difficult to determine who to put your faith in as a small company owner. Fake letters, too-good-to-be-true awards, and information demands might all jeopardise your company’s finances unless you have extensive expertise in management and law. Here are a few scams to keep an eye out for:

Fake Grants — Some company owners have received letters in the mail claiming that the government has selected them to receive huge sums of grant money. “If anything sounds too good to be true, it generally is,” as the old adage goes. Check with the SBA for further information.

Downloads – With the Internet Cloud and cellphones, we often install programmes without thoroughly studying the company behind them. Unverified apps may be a hoax that allows hackers to access sensitive information on your phone.

Fake bills — This may sound absurd, but when you have a stack of invoices on your desk or multiple staff with access to corporate finances, it may be difficult to keep track of every penny that goes out. Most bills may be paid within a certain time frame. Check again if one comes in that indicates it has to be paid right now.

Scams in the Directory — Consider receiving a phone call from the Phony Yellow Pages requesting that your company’s contact information be confirmed for inclusion in their non-existent directory. You validate the provided information, and then a charge appears, despite the fact that you never requested to be included in the directory. You refuse to pay the amount, and a bogus letter threatening “legal action” is delivered…. That is why it is critical to have your own company counsel to combat these con artists.

Phishing Emails – I received one of these a few days ago. It came from a close friend’s email account and said that she had been kidnapped in the Philippines and wanted me to pay her money immediately soon. Not only had I met my buddy that morning, but she had never before signed an email with “Kind Regards.” These scams are known for using friends’ identities, government alerts, or false customer complaints to get you to click on the email. They will be able to hack into your database after you have done so. Fortunately, most of them are automatically forwarded to your email provider’s “Spam” folder, but if in doubt, delete it.

So, what should you do if you’ve been duped by one of these many scams? You might contact your local authorities or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints regarding misleading or unfair commercial activities. However, you should consider contacting an attorney for advice on what urgent measures you should take to safeguard your company and to seek to prosecute the fraudster for damages and for causing harm to other business owners.