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BBB Warns of Seven Scams that Target Small Businesses

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Triangle - Small business owners often lack the time and resources to fight fraud, which makes them popular targets for any number of different scams. Being vigilant against fraud is not only important for a company’s bottom line, but it also strengthens customer trust in a company. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is warning business owners to look out for seven scams that commonly target small companies.

“Every year, BBB receives an abundance of complaints from small business owners who have fallen victim to a scam,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “It is important for small business owners to be aware that fraud can come from internal threats, such as employee fraud, as well as external full-time scammers.”

BBB recommends business owners beware of the following common scams that often prey on small companies:

1. Directory Scams – A perennial problem that has plagued businesses for decades involves deceptive sales for directories. Commonly, the scammer will call the business claiming they want to update the company’s entry in an online directory. The business is later billed hundreds of dollars for listing services they didn’t agree to.

2. Office Supply Scams – Scammers prey on small business owners hoping they will not notice a bill for office supplies which the company never ordered. BBB often receives complaints from small business owners who were billed for products they did not want.

3. Overpayment Scams – Be extremely cautious if a customer overpays using a check or credit card and then asks you to wire the extra money back. Overpayment scams target any number of different companies including catering businesses, manufacturers and wholesalers.

4. Data Breaches – No matter how vigilant your company is, a data breach can still happen. Whether it is the result of hackers, negligence or a disgruntled employee, a data breach can have a severe impact on the level of trust customers have in your business. You can learn how to defend your company from a data breach at

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5. Vanity Awards – While it is flattering to be recognized for your hard work, some awards are just money-making schemes and have no actual merit. If you are approached about receiving a business or leadership award, research the opportunity carefully and be wary if you are asked to pay money.

6. Stolen Identity – Scammers will often pretend to be a legitimate company for the purposes of ripping off consumers. When it comes to stolen identity, the company does not necessarily lose money, but their reputation may be tarnished.

7. Phishing E-mails – Some phishing e-mails specifically target small business owners with the goal of hacking into their network. Common examples include e-mails pretending to be from the IRS claiming the company is being audited, or phony e-mails from BBB saying the company has received a complaint. If you receive a suspicious e-mail from a government agency or BBB, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Contact the agency or BBB directly to confirm the legitimacy of the e-mail.

For more advice on how to manage your business effectively, visit

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