National Small Business Week: Common scams you should be aware of

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It’s the scams that come up time and time again against businesses. However unlikely you feel to be tricked by them, it’s a good tip to know that these scams are out there and can make you think twice. With National Small Business Week already rolling, here’s a list of some scams small businesses should look out for:

Business Directory Scams – One of the older scams, business listings attract small business owners due to the fact they want to get their name out. Especially if it means attracting the attention of new customers. Scammers prey on a business owners looking to get more visibility and will sell bogus business listings for print or online. If you’re look to market yourself better, talk directly to the directory listing company and don’t fall for a caller’s sales pitch.

Fake Yellow Pages Scam – If you receive an invoice for a renewal of a Yellow Pages advertisement in your directory, don’t fall for it. These solicitations disguised as invoices are mailed to businesses by copycat publishers. Many copycat publishers use the familiar “let your fingers do the walking” logo and the term “yellow pages”. In some occasions, a company will receive an email from a fake Yellow Pages company that tries to get businesses to think they are advertising with the real Yellow Pages. The email will have a link in the email to make you think they’re going to end your “real” Yellow Pages advertising. The email threatens to deactivate your business listing from the Yellow Pages. The email then asks you to confirm your business listing is accurate. company that allegedly tries to get businesses to think they are advertising with the real Yellow Pages. Be sure to be on the look-out for disguised solicitations and to carefully check suspicious bills from companies with which they don’t normally do business.

Fundraising Fraud – Most solicitations for police and fire service organizations are made by paid professional fundraisers.To show your support, you may consider making a donation when a fundraiser calls from a fire or police service organization.  Before you write the check, consider that simply because an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police or firefighters doesn’t mean contributions will be used locally or for public safety.

Website Scams – Some companies, claim to provide free Web design and hosting services, which result in billing small businesses for services that were never authorized.  The charges usually appear on businesses’ phone bills ‑ an illegal practice known as “cramming” ‑ or  fraudulent invoices. Here’s an example, you get a call from a company offering you a free, 30‑day Web site. Some service providers state that you’ll be billed automatically after the 30‑day period; others claim you won’t be billed after the 30 days unless you tell them you want to continue the service. Regardless of your actions, the service providers bill you.  The sites that do go up have little value because most are not listed with major search engines. If customers can’t find your site, it’s worthless to your bottom line.

Vanity Award Scams – These type of scams are relatively new and target smaller towns. The scam will say “Best of” and claim you are a winner. Most legitimate “Best Of” awards involve months of build up and are associated with a local organization like a magazine or a chamber of commerce. The voting is usually a big process with social media buildup. You’ll never be contacted out of the blue telling you that you won. It takes effort to win those awards.Scammers are generally located nowhere near the town you’re in. Look for out of state contact information. Be suspicious if there is no website listing all the winners.

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