Small Business Alert: Three COVID-19 Scams to Avoid
July 1, 2020 by Lee Mulkowsky
As a small business owner, you owe it to yourself to learn about recent scams and how to avoid them. You also need to make wise decisions to protect your business. From what information you share with external sources to what office space you pick, each of your decisions can have a tremendous impact on the success or failure of your business.
Given how many people are in need of a cash infusion these days, a scam promising money would seem to be an easy way to cash in on the desperation of some small business owners.
To add insult to injury, scammers have begun targeting small-business owners, attempting to extort money from them.
“History has shown that criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims, especially when a group of people is vulnerable or in a state of need,” IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort said recently.
Learn more about steps small business owners can take to keep from falling prey to three of the top scams being run these days – and learn how to spot them.
Small Business Administration Scams
In this attempt at siphoning cash from victims, perpetrators send official-looking emails and place spoofed phone calls that appear to come from the Small Business Administration. The scammers ask small business owners for banking information and upfront processing fees, supposedly to transfer them government grant money.
It’s important to know that legitimate government aid never requires upfront fees. If you’re on the receiving end of a communication that sounds like this, report it immediately to the SBA.
Public Health Scams
This one doesn’t involve outright requests for money, but it’s potentially just as dangerous. The intended victim receives an email purportedly from a public health organization, such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The communication may ask the recipient to click on a link, download a document, and/or send sensitive information such as a Social Security number.
Never download attachments or click on links sent in unsolicited emails from unknown senders, and if you have staff in your small business, tell them the same. This is a phishing scam and its aim is to gather your private, sensitive information and/or install malware on your computer.
Government Check Scam
Again, a scam promising money would seem to be an easy way to cash in on the desperation of some small business owners. In this form of fraud, the criminal calls or emails with an official-sounding pitch, supposedly from a government agency, promising much-needed funds if the would-be victim pays an upfront fee and/or shares specific personal information.
If you’re asked for any sort of fee in exchange for a larger sum of money on the backend, you’re being scammed. The same goes if you’re ever asked to provide Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers via phone or email. The government will never ask you for this information in ‘exchange’ for aid money. If you suspect you’ve been targeted by one of these ‘corona crooks,’ you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Changing up your office space might be the adjustment your business needs. If you’re still trying to decide what affect the current crisis will have on your business, take a moment to compare what it costs to run your own office vs. simply letting Metro Offices do the work for you today.
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