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Scammer No Scamming! 6 Common Scams That Target Businesses

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While more than 90% of companies in the U.S. are considered small businesses, some are more vulnerable than others.

For small businesses that operate on a shoestring budget, some common scams have the potential to cause them to shutter. If you’re not well protected, you could flush your profits down the tubes.

Here are four common scams that target businesses.

1. Fake Ads and Listings

Ever since the day of the old phone books and even magazine advertising, people have been running this kind of scam. Small businesses need help getting the word out and struggle all the time to get the kind of audience that they deserve. However, it’s only the most heartless of scammers who’d take advantage of small business owners trying to let people know about their services.

Scammers in these cases work to try to convince companies to buy advertising from them. To get your business listed in their special and important directory, they just need a small fee. In some cases, they’ll even pose as representatives of important directories to help sell their fake services to you.

What they do is create a fake shell company that sounds nice and official and start having you send payments to them. They get half of your payment up front and sometimes even do some of the work they’ve promised. If they can provide you with some sort of service, they might even get away with it.

Just like domain name scams, these scams happen to the best of business owners.

Be sure to research any company that reaches out to you to provide you with a service. A truly reputable company would have people calling them instead of the other way around.

2. Watch For Overcharges

If you’re a big enough company with lots of moving parts, the prospect of handling all of the charges that come to you is tough. If you get used to paying for this or that service at a certain price, you won’t necessarily go through your bills line by line. However, this is where companies can start hitting you.

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Even small businesses end up being crunched for time and energy to go through all of their invoices. They often just cut a check and move on. But, this isn’t the only kind of overcharge scam.

Another one will involve a customer sending you a check or money order that has some false overpayments. They’ll send you a check for services that’s slated to bounce. If you pay them before the check clears and end up sending them the “overcharge,” you’ll lose out double.

Watch any new and suspicious customers for issues like this. If you’ve never dealt with someone before, they might be looking at you to mark for a scam like this one.

3. Fake Business Boosting Ideas

As a business owner, you’re going to constantly look for ways to help increase your sales or to get better deals. Every savvy business owner needs to hustle to help grow business at their company. But, you need to remember that there are no real shortcuts to growth.

If someone reaches out and starts pulling on your hopefulness, they’re going to start trying to scam you for as much as they can get. They’ll tell you that they’re going to boost your revenue but when you look into how exactly they’re going to do this, you won’t get a straight answer. If you can’t see concrete proof of their claims, run far away.

There’s no such thing as a solid “get rich quick” scheme. Someone else is always going to get richer quicker than you. You’ll need to put some kind of asset on the line and in the end, it won’t be worth it. Don’t fall into these kinds of traps when an offer comes along that sounds too good to be true.

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Big business opportunities require everyone to buy in equally. If you’re footing the bill for someone else, take a look around you. There might be a sign over your head that says “heel”.

4. Fake Donations and Charities

If you find that you’re being hit up, especially over the holidays, by all kinds of non-profits asking you for donations, don’t be surprised. Companies of all sizes donate their profits to charity so that they can have more to write off on their tax bill at the end of the year. However, if you haven’t heard of the people asking you for a donation, it’s okay to ask for more information about them and what the donation goes for.

Some non-profits will ask exclusively for money to help the run their program and to keep helping people out. There are other charities that ask for products and services donated to help them for a holiday auction or other event. While you might want to keep a closer eye on cash donations, keep a close eye on your products too.

Most charities have a positive goal in mind and you’ll have to use your judgment on a case by case basis. Sometimes, kids get together to create a small donation for a local charity or for a national crisis. While you might not know who they are, just ask a few questions and you might find that their intentions are better than someone with a well-crafted plea.

Common Scams Still Plague Businesses

Even as our business models become more sophisticated, many common scams still plague the smartest of business owners. You’re bound to make mistakes. Just make sure you’re always learning from them.

If you get scammed, add a post to your company blog to help protect other business owners from a scam like that in the future.