Small business: Avoiding scams

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Last year small businesses lost $3m to scammers, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. File picture

DURING Scams Awareness Week, small businesses are urged to stop and think whether what they are being offered is real to avoid scammers pretending to be from government departments or other businesses.

In some cases businesses are sent emails from someone wanting payment for false bookkeeping and insurance invoices or sometimes from someone falsely claiming to have released a data base for another company and asking if your business would like to be involved.

When releasing its Targeting scams report the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) small business team said in 2017 businesses reported losing nearly $4.7 million to scammers, a 23 per cent increase compared with the year before.

In a statement the ACCC said small businesses accounted for nearly $3m of those losses.

“Some of the most common scams targeting businesses involve scammers offering services such as web page development, search engine optimisation, small business loans and business directory listings,’’ the statement said.

“A large number of businesses also fall victim to false billing scams, which involve scammers sending invoices demanding payment for services that weren’t ordered.’’

You can help protect your business by taking steps to keep your filing and accounting systems well organised – this will make it easier for you to detect bogus accounts and invoices, double check every request for payment, update your security software, change passwords and back up your data regularly and consider what business information you post on social media and networking sites, as scammers use publicly available information to target businesses.

To report a scam go to https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam