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Small business scams

12/04/2022

Stay ahead of scammers targeting small businesses.

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The last couple of years have been extremely difficult for small businesses in Australia. COVID has impacted staffing, we’ve seen customers moving from a physical environment to online platforms and to top it off, obtaining stock and supplies was made more difficult by border restrictions imposed by each state.

Just when it looked like things might be improving, along came another wave of Omicron and extreme weather events that have left devastating scenes across many states. Sadly, this has opened up opportunities for scammers.

Scammers recognise that small business operators are busy and have fewer resources than they would normally have, and so they aim to take advantage of that. Scams targeting small businesses come in various forms such as:

  • Access scams - this is a big one. Remind your team that your bank will never ask you for your full password or identifying details via email or by phoning your business.  If you’re ever asked for this information, you may be the target of a scam.
  • False billing scams that request businesses to pay fake invoices for things such as directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies that were not ordered.
  • Overpayment scams work by tricking businesses into ‘refunding’ a scammer who claims to have sent too much money for an item you are selling.
  • Malware tricks businesses into installing software, that allows scammers to access files and track what you are doing, which can occur through clicking unknown email and SMS link or unsafe attachments, while ransomware demands payment to ‘unlock’ your computer or files.
  • Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site.
  • Investment scams promise big payouts, quick money or guaranteed returns. Always be suspicious of any promise of a high return with little or no risk. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

So what can you do? Be aware, first and foremost and check out the latest information on scams that are operating. 

Educate your staff to look for signals or anything unusual, and double check credentials if they have any doubts of legitimacy. If you think a request is suspicious, independently check business details by doing a search online and/or calling them directly to confirm.

Keep your devices secure. Back up your data, regularly change your passwords and update your security software. Stay Smart Online is the Australian Government's online safety and security service, designed to help everyone understand the risks and the simple steps to take to protect personal and financial information online. 

Contact your bank immediately if you feel you have been the victim of a scam, and report the scam to the ACCC.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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