“Operation Main Street” aims to stop small business scams

The  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, a coordinated joint effort with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), law enforcement and state/federal partners, to help stop scams that target small businesses.

The announcement and recently published guidelines describe common scams that target small businesses and non-profit organizations, scammers’ tactics, and safeguards users can take to protect their organizations from scams.

Small businesses can protect their businesses by following these safeguards: 

  • Train your employees: Make sure your employees are informed of potential scams; have co-workers talk to each other if they spot a scam to spread the word.
  • Password protections: Don’t send or ask for passwords (or sensitive information) via email, even if it comes from a manager. 
  • Verify Invoices and Payments: Check carefully all invoices and make sure products/services were ordered and delivered; Limit number of authorized employees allowed to approve invoices/expenditures; Be wary of unexpected calls/voicemails or requests for payment using a wire transfer, reloadable card, or gift card (as these are likely scams that are also hard to trace back payments). 
  • Be Tech-Savvy: Don’t believe caller ID; Be wary of emails and links to websites as scammers can fake websites and make them look legitimate; Secure your organization’s files, passwords, and financial information. 

The FTC also adds that users can search for an unknown company name and “scam” or “complaint” and read what others say about the company. Also, don’t pay for “free” information. 

Some common scams to be on the lookout for and used against small businesses include: 

  • Fake invoices
  • Unordered Office Supplies and Other Products
  • Directory Listing and Advertising Scams
  • Utility Company Imposter Scams
  • Tech Support Scams
  • Social Engineering, Phishing, and Ransomware
  • Business Promotion and Coaching Scams
  • Changing Online Reviews
  • Credit Card Processing and Equipment Leasing Scams
  • Fake Check Scams.

“When scammers go after your organization, it can hurt your reputation and your bottom line. Your best protection? Learn the signs of scams that target businesses. Then tell your employees and colleagues what to look for so they can avoid scams,” FTC stated. 

Organizations can contact the FTC to order free brochures to help spread awareness and share with their employees.

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