By Lucy Taylor
Scams that target small businesses are on the rise throughout Australia. Large corporations generally have the policies, protections, and legal backing to deal with any attempts to scam them. Small business owners are often handling too many things on their own, and lack of training of employees can lead to devastating consequences for your business. Here are some scams that you should be on the lookout for as a small business owner.
While search engine optimization has been useful, it is beginning to wane as a strong way to direct traffic to your website. Companies that promise to increase your web traffic through SEO consulting are out to take your money, and nothing more. They can charge you excessive money for something that with a few hours of research, there is no reason that you can’t do yourself.
Business Coaching Programs
They promise to teach you the best techniques for increasing sales or motivating your employees—and they want to charge you an arm and a leg for it. Save your money, and the time that you would be spending at the seminar. Most of these are nothing more than an opportunity for them to get hundreds of people in one place to give them large amounts of money. You can find plenty of free resources to teach you what you need to know.
We all know about the Nigerian prince who wants to wire you money, but did you know that businesses can be targets for phishing scams as well? It’s very easy for scammers to send you official looking emails with company logos on them, asking you to click a link to reset your password. Many unsuspecting individuals have fallen for these. The best thing to do when you get an email like this is to go online in a separate browser and go directly to the organizations site. If there is a legitimate problem, you will be able to access that information and sort it out.
These are usually pretty easy to spot if you know to be on the lookout for them. An organization will contact you telling you that they are impressed with your business and that they would like to feature you in a publication of some sort, but there is almost always a fee involved. Another similar thing to watch out for is “business registry” items, where you pay them to display your business contact information. Most modern consumers will just use the internet to search for business information anyway.
Your accounting department can be a target for scammers. All they have to do is send you a fake invoice that looks like a product or service that you use, and someone may just go ahead and pay it, never questioning the validity. This is a growing scam, and it does seem to target more and more small businesses as larger corporations move to automatic drafting and payments to their vendors and suppliers.
This is one of the hardest to deal with because in most cases, the person committing the crime is going to be one of your own people. Someone you trusted, and someone that you counted on. There are many ways that payroll fraud can happen, from employees falsifying time cards to someone in the payroll department really taking it up a notch and altering the information as it goes into the system If you suspect that there has been any payroll fraud, you should consult an attorney about how to properly proceed.
More than one business has been taken in by a person claiming to be from an organizations trying to raise money. Such organizations do exist, and many of them are legitimate. Too often though, there is no charity behind the pleas for help, and they’re just pocketing the money. Learn to say “no” and make sure that if you desire to give, you only give to organizations that you are already familiar with, and that you reach out to them directly.
Running a small business is hard enough without having to clean up the mess that gets left behind by a scammer. Learn to spot the signs in order to protect your business from small business scams.
Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.