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Office of Consumer Protection

Scams Targeting the Business Community

Businesses can also be victims of common scams facing consumers.  The OCP warns area businesses to be wary of phony invoices.  This is where a scammer sends out fake, but real-looking bills in the hopes of getting paid.  Or the scammer may send unwanted product and demand a restocking fee if the shipment is challenged. 

Local businesses were also faced with phony charity scams.  These businesses were convinced to place charity collection boxes in their shops and restaurants in order to solicit their customers into making payments to fake charities. 

The FBI says that downpayment scams are one of the most common scams that harms businesses and consumers alike. Hackers break into a company's email system and find people with whom the company is about to do a deal. On simulated letterhead of the company or from a lookalike email address, the consumer is directed to wire or electronically send their down payment (but to the crooks).  Businesses should let their consumers know when and how payments will be expected and accepted.  That way, any surprise requests for wire payment could be met with scepticism. 

If you get a call claiming Google is about to remove your business listing, just hang up.  Google is not calling you.  According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), this is an SEO scam where the company will continue to hit you for more and more fees in order to improve your Google.  But a business can manage its listing for free. 

The FTC also provides useful information at its Business Center on how to protect your business from scams and cyber-intrusion.  In fact, the FTC reached a settlement agreement with a telemarketing operation for allegedly tricking small businesses, non-profit organizations, and others into paying for overpriced office and cleaning supplies they never ordered. The FTC also reached a settlement with a group of "business coaching" companies and individuals that allegedly used deceptive marketing tactics that robbed aspiring business owners of millions of dollars.  Finally, do not be tricked into buying labor posters.  The Department of Labor provides these posters for download free.

If you think you have been targeted by a scam, please contact the OCP's Business Liaison.  Please follow us to stay informed with the latest News and Alerts: 


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