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Gone are the days that small business owners can just focus on dollars and cents. If you're not on the lookout for crimes and scams, you stand to lose more than a little profit.
Scammers can destroy your small business' credit and reputation overnight, so you need to be vigilant when protecting what you've built. But you can't stop a scam if you don't know what to look for, so here are seven of the most common scams targeting small businesses.
No business owner wants to get customer complaints, especially fraudulent complaints that look like they're from the FTC. Always confirm the source of complaints before sharing any information about your small business.
You've got MySmallBusinessNameHere.com, but what about other domains in China or elsewhere? You may want a worldwide presence, but don't get suckered into buying a ransomed domain name.
If you got a letter from your state's Corporate Records Service claiming that you need to file minutes with the state in order to comply with business regulations, don't worry. And definitely don't send them money order documents. Contact your state's consumer protection commission instead.
And if a customer's card is declined, don't accept an "authorization code" from the customer. These can easily be faked.
A variation on email spoofing or hacking, scammers use vendor email addresses (or ones that look similar enough) to trick unwitting accounts payable employees into wiring payment into bank accounts.
And your HR department needs to be just as careful as accounting -- make sure they're double checking all requests before sending employee W-2 information to anyone.
Small business owners don't just need to be worried about scams coming from outside. Sometimes your own employees can be the most dangerous. And crazy.